Hacksaw Vs. Hand Saw (A Quick Guide)

When it comes to manually powered saws, the hacksaw and hand saw are both fantastic tools. Despite their similar names and the fact that both of these tools are handheld saws, they are not the same. In this article, we’ll help you distinguish between a hacksaw and a handsaw once and for all! 

A handsaw is a handheld, manually powered saw that is used to cut various wooden materials, such as hardwood, softwood, and plywood. A hacksaw, which is a handsaw variant, is designed to cut harder materials such as metal and plastic. Despite the similarities in how these tools are operated, there are many characteristics that set these tools apart. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at the design and purpose of each of these handheld tools. First, consider their similarities and why people mistake them. We’ll then explain the design and purpose of each of these saws. Once we’ve done this, we’ll highlight the differences between these tools so that you can tell them apart! 

hacksaw vs hand saw

Why People Confuse Hacksaws And Handsaws 

There are many reasons as to why hacksaws and handsaws are confused for one another – and it’s not just because their names are so similar! Before we take a look at each power tool individually and compare their differences, let’s consider their similarities

First of all, both hacksaws and handsaws are handheld tools used to saw. Furthermore, both of these tools are manually powered. This means that you don’t need electricity to power either of these handy tools – adding to their continued popularity. 

Due to these innate similarities, even the process of using these tools is comparable. From your personal safety, while using these handheld tools to the necessary precautions to take before you use them, there is an overlap in the safety precautions these tools require users to take. 

Even the way these saws function while you use them is similar. The principal reason for this is that a hacksaw is a type of handsaw. However, despite these similarities, a hacksaw is not the same as a handsaw. Ultimately, these two tools differ in the cuts they’re designed to produce and the material they’re suited to cut. 

Keep reading as we give you a breakdown of each of these power tools and their uses. Once we’ve done this, we’ll break down the characteristics that set these two handheld tools apart. 

What Is A Hacksaw? 

hacksaw used to cut metalic bar

As mentioned earlier, a hacksaw is a manually powered, handheld tool used for sawing. Furthermore, a hacksaw is a variant of the handsaw, another handheld tool. Before we take a look at the handheld saw that inspired it, let’s take a look at the unique features of a hacksaw. 

Your typical hacksaw features a fine-toothed saw that is set in a bow-shaped frame. The frame allows you to hold the hacksaw while you’re using it. When operating this handheld saw, the blade will cut the material on the push, rather than the pull – but what material can it cut? 

Hacksaws are predominantly used for metal materials. As a general rule of thumb, a hacksaw is used to cut material that is harder or stronger than wood. You will be able to use a hacksaw to cut steel rods, pipes, metal, PVC, plastic, and more. 

When it comes down to hacksaw blades, there are many different sizes available with varying teeth densities. The blade size you use ultimately correlates to the material you are cutting and the hardness thereof. Hacksaws generally have a tooth density of 3 to 32 teeth per inch. A hacksaws blade is replaceable and is attached via nuts that can be loosened and tightened. 

There are four main types of hacksaws, each with different blade size options available. Firstly, there’s the full-sized hacksaw, which is designed to cut through a variety of tough materials. The next variant is the junior hacksaw, which is more compact and features half-sized blades. 

The most compact hacksaw, however, is the mini hacksaw. A mini hacksaw features an ergonomic design to make cutting easier and can be used in confined spaces. Finally, there are power hacksaws, which are an electrically powered variant.

What Is A Handsaw? 

hand saw cutting wood

As discussed above, a hacksaw is a type of handsaw designed for cutting materials like metal and plastic. It’s now time to look at the tool a hacksaw is based on! A handsaw is a handheld tool used in woodworking and carpentry to cut various wooden materials, including hardwood, softwood, and plywood. 

Your typical handsaw features a wide, permanently fixed blade. In terms of tooth density, your average handsaw will feature 7 to 10 teeth per inch. When you purchase a handsaw, a general-purpose handsaw will be able to cut a variety of wooden materials. However, there are variants optimized to cut certain woods. 

Furthermore, the blade may have teeth that are designed for crosscutting or teeth designed for rip cutting. The type of blade teeth you require depends on whether you’re cutting along the grain (crosscutting) or against the grain (rip cutting). Many modern handsaws have universal teeth that can be used to make both types of cuts. 

The type of handle grip used on a handsaw also differs from a hacksaw. Instead of a bow-shaped handle, handsaws feature closed handles. This type of handle makes this handheld saw better suited to faster, more efficient woodcutting. The closed design of the saw’s handle also prevents your hand from coming into contact with the blade while sawing. 

Another similarity between most handsaws and hacksaws is that both generally operate on the push stroke. However, many modern handsaws are able to cut on both the push and pull stroke. Regardless of whether you get a handsaw with universal teeth that can cut while pushing and pulling or a more specialized one, this is a practical tool for all woodworkers! 

The Differences Between A Hacksaw And A Handsaw 

In this article, we’ve outlined the similarities between hacksaws and handsaws and why they’re so often confused for one another. We then took a look at each of these handheld saws separately. Finally, we’re going to break down the differences between these tools! 

#1: They Cut Different Materials 

A hacksaw is designed to cut through materials such as metal and plastic. A handsaw, however, is designed to cut wood and is used in carpentry and woodworking. 

#2: Their Core Design Differs 

The blade is a hacksaw that can be detached and replaced. This is due to the manner the specialized blade is attached to the hacksaw’s frame. A handsaw’s blade is permanently fixed. The handle of a hacksaw is also bow-shaped, while the handle of a handsaw is closed. 

#3: Their Blade Thicknesses Differ

Due to the different materials that these handheld saws are designed to cut, their blades also differ in thickness. The blade utilized by a hacksaw to cut metal materials and plastic is the thinner blade. The blade used to cut wood on a handsaw is thicker than the blades used on a hacksaw. 

#4: The Blades Have Varying Teeth Density 

Not only do the blade thicknesses differ, but the teeth density of the blade is also different for each tool. A typical hacksaw blade will have a tooth density of 3 to 32 teeth per inch. A handsaw, however, will have a tooth density of 7 to 10 teeth per inch. 

#5: The Way They Cut Can Differ 

When using a hacksaw, the handheld tool will only be able to cut on the push stroke. While many handsaws used to only cut on the push stroke, there are modern variants that are capable of cutting on both the push and pull stroke. 


In this article, we explained the similarities and differences between a hacksaw and a handsaw. First, we looked at the base similarities between these two handheld tools and how they operate. We then took a look at each tool separately before highlighting the differences that set these tools apart. 

James Thomas

James Thomas

Tool Enthusiast

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