What is a Hacksaw?

Updated: Mar. 31, 2023

This is the place to come if you want to learn everything there is to know about hacksaws.

A hacksaw with all of its parts labeled | Construction Pro TipsCourtesy of Stanley Tools

What is a Hacksaw? 

A hacksaw is a hand-powered, small-toothed saw used for cutting metal pipes, rods, brackets, etc. Hacksaws can also cut through plastic. The hacksaw has a U-shaped frame and a handle at one end. Hacksaws have small pins at each end of the frame that receive a blade. A tensioner nut or knob is then used to extend the length of the frame, which puts tension on the blade and locks it in place. The blade can be installed to cut on either the push or pull stroke; cutting on the push stroke is more common. Here are the basic parts:

  1. D-handle
  2. Tensioner knob
  3. Blade tensioner
  4. Blade Pins
  5. Blade
  6. Frame

Many hacksaws have a two-part adjustable frame and a pistol grip handle.

Hacksaws are used by plumbers to cut pipes and occasionally by electricians to cut conduit. The hacksaw got its name because historically these saws did not cut smoothly. However, developments in the tooling have improved the cutting precision of the hacksaw. These days, most pros cut metal parts with a reciprocating saw, but they keep hacksaws on hand for jobs that need a more delicate touch.

How is hacksaw used? 

The basics of operating a hacksaw:

  • Be sure that the blade is tightened and tensioned
  • Mark the pipe or conduit at the appropriate length
  • Line up the blade with the mark
  • Draw the saw back and forth on the mark

Safety tips for using hacksaws:

  • Wear appropriate work gloves and safety glasses
  • Be aware of burs and sharp edges during and after sawing

What are the Differences Between Types of Hacksaws?

  • Some hacksaws can hold both 10-in. and 12-in. blades
  • There are 6-in. hacksaws available
  • Handle styles vary
  • Compact/mini hacksaws consist of just a handle and a blade, similar to a knife
  • Tensioner mechanisms vary
  • Some hacksaws can pivot the blades to a 45° angle to allow for flush cuts

 What Makes a Good Hacksaw? 

  • Sturdy frame
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Pivoting blade angle
  • Easily adjustable tensioner

Stanley makes a high quality hacksaw.  

Hacksaw tip for cutting through rebar | Construction Pro TipsConstruction Pro Tips

Hacksaw Pro Tip: Prevent Skating

It’s less likely that the blade will skate around your workpiece if you start your cut with a few backstrokes. The opposite is true if your blade is set up to cut on the pull stroke.