Need to cut metal? You can use a powered sabre saw, or jigsaw or a hand tool called a hacksaw. Whether you’re working with thin sheet metal or common home plumbing piping, a hacksaw is a good tool for the job. There are a variety of blades to choose from — the right one will make using a hacksaw easy.
Hacksaw blades are available with tooth counts ranging from 14 to 32 teeth per inch. Thin stock calls for finer teeth; thicker metal requires fewer teeth per inch.
The way teeth are positioned on a blade is called “set.” There are three typical tooth sets:
These work well on softer metals that don’t contain iron. The teeth are lined up touching each other and alternating to the left and right.
Perfect for cutting into thick metals. The teeth are placed in sets of three.
The right choice for hard, thin metals. The teeth are set in a wave pattern from left to right for a smooth, fine cut.
Hacksaw frames can be either fixed or adjustable. A fixed frame accepts one blade length; while the adjustable typically handles 10- and 12-inch blades, some can accept blades ranging from 8 to 16 inches. There’s a slight price difference, but the versatility of an adjustable frame is well worth the additional cost.
A hacksaw blade has a hole at each end that fits onto posts on the frame, and these posts can be set in four positions: up, down, left and right. Also, the blade can be mounted on the posts with the tooth side in either direction, giving you a total of eight blade positions to choose from.
Using a Hacksaw
Americans are accustomed to saws that cut on the push stroke, but reversing the blade to cut on the pull stroke — like a fine Japanese woodworking saw — might give you a better result. Whatever the blade’s orientation, it’s essential that you cut slowly, no more than one stroke per second; metal on metal produces tremendous heat and can quickly ruin a blade. A drop of oil on the blade is a good idea to reduce friction and to keep the temperature down.
Hacksaw Safety Tips:
- Choose the correct blade for the material being cut.
- Secure the blade with the teeth pointing forward.
- Keep the blade rigid and the frame properly aligned.
- Cut using strong, steady strokes directed away from you.
- Use the entire length of the blade in each cutting stroke.
- Keep saw blades clean, and use light machine oil on the blade to keep it from overheating and breaking.
- Cut harder materials more slowly than soft materials.
- Clamp thin, flat pieces that require edge cutting.
- If you’re cutting pipe, always secure it in a vise before cutting.