Hand Saw Maintenance | How to Sharpen & When to Replace It?

Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Barry Gray

There are different tools that you can use for your carpentry and woodworking projects. One fundamental tool commonly used is the hand saw, which is designed to cut pieces of wood into various shapes and sizes. 

No matter how you properly handle and take good care of your hand saw, it is subject to wear and tear over time, meaning that the handle can get loose, and some teeth can go missing. Nevertheless, the good thing is that there are steps that you can take to maintain and sharpen your hand saw so that it remains useful for a longer period. However, there are still instances when it needs to be replaced with a new one.

Hand Saw Maintenance How to Sharpen & When to Replace It

In this article, we’ll share some maintenance tips on how to sharpen your hand saw and some apparent signs indicating that you finally need to replace it.

Maintenance steps on how to sharpen your hand saw

When it comes to tools without engines, the handsaw is the most efficient and quickest means to cut woods. However, the blade’s teeth need to be as sharp as possible so that it can perform its job and yield optimal results. When not properly handled and sharpened regularly, know that the hand saw will get damaged easily over time. Here are some maintenance steps to follow to sharpen your handsaw and ensure it lasts for as long as possible:

  • Keep the saw dry: It’s best to keep or store it in a dry place or in a toolbox. Keeping it dry will ensure that it won’t get rusted over time from being exposed to water or other forms of moisture.
  • Lubricate the blade: You can grease it using gun oil, paste wax, or WD-40 after using the tool and before storing it. While gun oil or WD-40 is used with a piece of cloth to wipe the blade, the paste wax needs to sit on the blade for a few minutes before it is completely wiped off.
  • Remember to oil the handle: It’s necessary to frequently oil the handle of the saw, particularly if it’s wooden. You can some boiled linseed oil to do this to prevent moisture and dirt build-up. Also, make sure to remove the handle and clean out the slot if the part attached to the blade shows signs of rust. You can then use steel wool or fine sandpaper to smoothen the rough finish and get rid of stains on the handle.
  • Use a razor to get rid of blade rust: First, remove the handle and put the blade on a flat surface before you start scraping the blade using a razor blade. Make sure to go up and down the blade’s length with the razor at a low angle. After this, you can use steel wool or sandpaper to rub any stubborn spots. Finally, be sure to wipe it dry and finish it with an oil or wax. 
  • Regularly sharpen your saw: Sharpening this tool can be a tricky process for beginners, but there are a few simple steps that you can follow. With good lighting set in place and the use of small diamond or triangular file, be sure to follow the steps below:
  • Work your way down the blade while filing each tooth level and counting strokes as you would typically do for sharpening knife.
  • File down any longer teeth to ensure that all teeth are of the same length.
  • Check the rakers, such as notched teeth (if there are), and file them sharp. Make sure that they are about 0.5 mm shorter than the saw teeth. 
  • Inspect your blade for crooked teeth and do your best to bend them back to the blade’s pattern.

Signs you need to replace your hand saw

With effective maintenance procedures, you can keep your blade sharp and ensure that your handsaw is in good shape and working condition for as long as possible. Nevertheless, no matter how you try to handle it with care, there will come a time when it can no longer be used or is unsafe to use. Here are four tell-tale signs you should finally buy a new handsaw:

  • It bends even on simple cuts: Your hand saw will need to be replaced when it starts to bend, even when you’re just making a simple cut on a small piece of wood. While a brand new hand saw can only take you a few minutes to cut wood with little effort, an old and outdated one can take you a long time and make you struggle.
  • It has a loose handle: Sure, the handle can be installed and uninstalled for a while when cleaning. However, when it becomes loose over time, it will be unsafe for you to use it when working on woods. You may have it tightened well, but if it’s still loose, it’s best to buy a new one.
  • It has a few teeth missing: With constant use and abuse, some of your hand saw’s teeth will go missing over time. A very few missing teeth may not be a big deal, but missing several teeth can negatively impact your cutting rhythm and carpentry work.
  • Its brand name can no longer be read: It’s worth knowing that most hand saws have the manufacturers’ names indicated on the blade. Over time, they may wear off due to constant use. This can be a great indicator that it has reached its end and is in need of an immediate replacement.


At this point, you now have a bigger idea of how to maintain your hand saw and sharpen it for effective use. Be sure to follow the valuable tips outlined above to ensure your tool will remain functional for as long as possible. However, if you see some of the tell-tale signs discussed above, such as bending, loose handle, missing teeth, and faded brand name, it’s best to replace your hand saw with a new one.

We have plenty of articles on types of tools, so if you have a question, leave one in the comments section!

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.

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