7 Best Bow Saws for Woodworkers and Survivalists
The bow saw is a very simple and yet highly practical cutting hand tool. It is one of the oldest woodworking tool known to man and still used even today. The popularity of the bow saw is as high as every since it is a very practical and straightforward tool that simply works. Are you looking for a good quality bow saw? If you answer yes, then you have come to the right place.
1. Bahco Ergo Bow Saw for Dry Wood and Lumber
21; 24; 30 in
2. Truper 30255 Steel Handle Bow Saw
21; 24; 30 in
3. Bahco 332-21-51 Pointed Nose Bow Saw
4. Fiskars 7029 Bow Saw
5. Bond BS21 Gardener's Choice Bow Saw
6. Gilmour 521 Bow Saw
7. Bahco 331-21-51-KP Pointed Nose Bow Saw
What Is the Bow Saw Used for?
The bow saw has a wide range of applications and can be used to cut almost anything. It is very versatile and some people use them as a survival tool, while others as a hand tool for woodworking. The fact is, if you need any type of wood cutting, you can use the bow saw for it.
7 Best Bow Saws - Reviews
Without further ado, here is our hand-picked review of some of the best bow saws available on the market right now.
#1. Bahco Ergo Bow Saw for Dry Wood and Lumber
Editor's Rating: (4.8 / 5)
The Bahco Ergo Bow Saw is a popular model that come in 3 sizes of 21-inch, 24-inch and 30-inch as well as two different styles for cutting green wood or dry wood.
The construction quality of this unit is excellent. It is made from high quality, lightweight, and durable steel tubing. This guarantees that this bow saw can be used under heavy-duty applications and will not bend under load. It is highly durable and will last a long time.
The blade tensioning mechanism is easy to adjust even by newbies and it provides an efficient cut, regardless of whether you choose the lumber model or dry wood one.
Additionally, the handles are large and provide an ergonomic and comfortable fit. It will fit hands of any size. The shape of this bow saw provides the most efficient cut possible with minimal effort. It achieves this by focusing the full force of the hand forward motion onto the teeth of the blade.
- Ability to choose between 3 different sizes and 2 styles.
- Ergonomic and comfortable handling with knuckle protector.
- Lightweight and solid build construction. Durable.
- Easy to tension blade in a matter of seconds.
- Too big to work in tight spots.
- Blade tensioning works too well. Can easily be overtightened.
Who should buy?
If you are looking for a very versatile bow saw for any range of cutting application, we think that the Bahco Ergo Bow excels at versatility. Choose a size and style that suit the job you have at hand and you are set.
#2. Truper 30255 Steel Handle Bow Saw
Editor's Rating: (4.3 / 5)
The Truper 30255 is an affordable bow saw that everyone will love. This model is solidly built from a durable metal alloy and provides a sharp and pointy nose. This pointy nose allows this bow saw to easily penetrate tight spots with great ease.
The blade tensioning system is simple and straightforward, while the handles provide a soft and comfortable fit for long hours of work without hand fatigue.
- Choose between 3 different models - 21-inch, 24-inch and 30-inch.
- Pointy nose can easily reach tight areas.
- Good quality metal construction. Durable.
- Quick blade release mechanism allows you to change blades in a matter of seconds.
- The cam-lever tension system is not the best tension system out there. Can become loose over time.
- The handles do not provide the best grip and can become uncomfortable over time.
Who should buy?
If you are looking for a very cheap and yet efficient bow saw, we see nothing spectacularly wrong with the Truper 30255. You can choose 3 different models that fit your need.
#3. Bahco 332-21-51 21-Inch Pointed Nose Bow Saw
Editor's Rating: (4.4 / 5)
The Bahco 332-21-51 offers a lower profile than the Bahco Ergo Bow Saw reviewed above. This 21-inch bow saw has a pointy nose that allows it to easily reach tight corners more easily.
Furthermore, this model is more suited for pruning and roofing work. It requires a little bit more force to cut, due to its low profile form factor, but it is also a little bit more accurate.
The build construction is the same steel tube frame that is both durable and lightweight. Additionally, the handle sports the Ergo handle which is very ergonomic and limits hand fatigue quite effectively. As for the blade tensioning system, it is easy to adjust the tensioning, as well as release the blade.
- Excellent build construction. Lightweight and durable.
- Easy to use blade tensioning/release mechanism.
- Pointy nose to reach tight areas.
Who should buy?
The pointy nose of the Bahco 332-21-51 allows it to work more effectively in tight areas. Additionally, it comes as a fixed 21-inch size so it is recommended only for casual woodcutting in tight areas rather than heavy-duty applications.
#4. Fiskars 7029 Bow Saw, 21-Inch
Editor's Rating: (4.4 / 5)
Fiskars is a brand that we absolutely love because of their high-quality tools. The Fiskars 7029 Bow Saw is certainly no different. But what we like the most about this bow so is it extremely affordable pricing. Indeed, it is by far one of the cheapest bow saw in this bow saw review.
But the cheap price does not mean that Fiskars sacrificed quality. Far from that! The frame is made from a lightweight and durable steel while the blade is a fully hardened precision-ground steel period that will allow it to cut through any type of material, whether it is wood or even metal quite effectively.
Fiskars coated the blade with an anti-rust coating helping prolong its lifespan. Additionally, the blade can easily be removed and replaced with another 21-inch blade.
The safety tension release in this model provides a lot of versatility when cutting through material of different densities. Indeed, it easily allows you to adjust the blade tensioning to the material in a matter of seconds.
For the price, we think that this bow saw is an absolute bargain.
- Very affordable price. Excellent price to performance ratio.
- Carbon steel blade coated with an anti-rust material. Tough and durable.
- Steel frame that can be used for heavy-duty applications. Long lasting.
- Blade tensioner can be adjusted on the fly to adapt to your material quickly and easily.
Who should buy?
It is hard to beat the Fiskars 7029 especially at the price that it is offered. We think that it is an absolute bargain for the money. This is a very versatile bow saw that can be used for a wide range of applications, from woodworking to even metal cutting.
#5. Bond BS21 Gardener's Choice 21-Inch Bow Saw
Editor's Rating: (4.7 / 5)
The Bond BS21 offers excellent value for money. It is mostly geared for gardeners, but it has a much wider range of applications and can be used even for woodworking or survival purposes.
The frame is made from tubular steel that is lightweight and provides durability to the unit. Additionally, the push-and-pull blade is made from tempered double cut steel which means that it is very durable and will easily cut through any type of low-density material with great ease.
The release mechanism is easy to operate and changing the blade is one of the easiest we have seen in a bow saw. Just push and pull sideways to release the blade. Very easy!
Additionally, this bow saw will provide enough handle support to be used with either one or both hands for heavy-duty applications.
- Large handle support. Can be used with both hands.
- Very easy blade changing mechanism.
- Tubular frame made from steel. Light weight and very durable.
- The blade is made from double-cut steel that is very durable and long-lasting.
- This bow saw is quite tall and not ideal for working in tight spots.
Who should buy?
By default, the Bond BS21 is an excellent gardener saw for pruning trees. However, its ability to allow you to work with both hands make it an excellent bow saw for other heavy-duty applications, especially woodworking. We recommend this model to anyone looking for a versatile and dependable bow saw.
#6. Gilmour 521 21-Inch Bow Saw
Editor's Rating: (4.2 / 5)
The Gilmour 521 is yet another quality and affordable bow saw. The open throat area gives you a lot of clearance area when working on big projects. The 21-inch blade is edged-harden for longevity and the blade tension mechanism is very easy to adjust. It can also be used to quickly and easily release the blade.
- Tubular steel frame transmit all the power to the blade. Very efficient cut.
- Steel hardened blade has already been pre-factory sharpened for out-of-the-box cutting.
- Generous cutting length of 5 inches. Can cut through a wide surface area relatively quickly.
- Lack of a comfortable handle. Not suited for prolonged use.
Who should buy?
If you are looking for a casual woodworking bow saw, this is a fairly affordable model that would not disappoint. The only problem with it is the lack of a proper handle. Other than that, it is a very versatile bow saw that can be used for a wide range of cutting applications.
#7. Bahco 331-21-51-KP 21-Inch Pointed Nose Bow Saw
Editor's Rating: (4.8 / 5)
The Bahco 331-21-51-KP basically offers the same cutting experience as other Bahco bow saws reviewed so far. The only distinction is the lack of an Ergo handle in this unit. This makes it most suited for short and quick cuts rather than heavy duty cutting for an extended period of time.
It offers the same tubular steel frame coated with an orange paint for maximum visibility. The pointy nose of this bow saw allows it to reach tight areas quite easily.
Furthermore, the Bahco 331-21-51-KP is a more low profile, hence smaller 21-inch bow saw that can easily be carried to the job. It does not have the cutting power of other Bahco models reviewed so far, but it is still very decent for roofing and pruning.
- Tubular steel frame. Tough and long-lasting.
- Pointy nose can reach tight corners easily.
- Small and low profile. Can easily be stored in a work bag.
- Lack of Ergo handle making it not as comfortable as other Bahco models in this review.
Who should buy?
This Bahco is mostly suited for pruning, roofing or other work that require a short and quick cut. It is not fit for heavy-duty application, but as long as it is used in a short period of time it will perform very well, especially when cutting low-density material like wood.
Parts of a Bow Saw
The bow saw is a simple tool. Consequently, it does not have very elaborate parts. Here is a highlight of its parts.
The blade in the bow saw is its most important part. It usually ranges from 21 - 30 inches with an average cutting length of 5 inches. Additionally, it can quickly and easily be removed in a matter of seconds making the bow saw a very time-efficient tool to work with.
There are 2 types of blades in a bow saw:
- Peg Tooth Blades - This type has its teeth arranges in a set of 3 triangular teeth set with pointy ends. It is ideal for cutting dry wood rather than green wood.
- Peg and Raker Tooth Blades - On the other hand, is a green wood cutting specialist. It has a set of 4 triangular teeth immediately followed by a “raker” tooth - the raker tooth a triangle tooth split in half with both edges spread sideways. When cutting through wet or green wood, the raker tooth prevents clippings from clogging the blade teeth, providing a more efficient cut.
#2. Frame: The frame of the bow saw is usually made from tubular steel. It is empty inside and its only job is to provide support to the entire device. It also efficiently transmits the kinetic energy from the hand to the blade, for optimal cutting.
#3. Handle: A bow saw is usually equipped with a “pistol grip handle”. The close form of this handle provides a better handling that is more ergonomic to the hand as well as prevent slipping.
What to Look for When Buying a Bow Saw
Here are some important factors to keep an eye out when buying a bow saw online.
#1. Bow Saw Length
The smaller the bow saw length or, the smaller cut it can perform. A small length of 21 inches is usually the default size and suited for a wide variety of applications. However, larger bow saws like a 30 inches model can be used to fell a tree for example. Bottom line is, if you would need the extra length, get a smaller one. It is more portable and essentially cheaper.
The blade tensioner simply holds the blade to the frame of the bow saw. It also does the job of releasing the blade so that you can replace it. Over time, and usage, the blade can become loose and will require blade tensioning. Look if your unit has the adequate blade tensioning mechanism.
#3. Protective Sheath
It is a good idea to choose a model that comes with a protective sheath. The blades of a bow saw are very sharp and can easily cause injury. One equipped with a protective sheath is safer and easier to carry around.
#4. Handle and Hand Guard
The handle should provide an ergonomic and comfortable grip to the bow saw. This is especially important if you are planning to use this tool for long hours. Additionally, a hand guard will help protect your hand from material during intense forward and backward motion.
Bow saws usually come with deep coloration of the frame. This is important because it allows you to quickly spot your tool from other environmental items.
#6. Extra Blades
If your bow saw comes with extra blades, all the better. However, for best bang for your buck, one that comes with both a green wood and a dry wood blade is the best option. It offers the greatest level of versatility.
How to Use a Bow Saw
Here are some tips on how to use the bow saw in the most efficient way possible.
Step #1: Tension the blade properly. A poorly tensioned blade will not perform well. You can use the blade tensioning mechanism on your bow saw for this effect. Once your blade is properly tensioned, you should see an immediate cutting difference.
Step #2: The size of the bow saw needs to be adequate to the size of project you are working on. One that is too small for a large project will be inefficient and difficult to work with.
Step #3: Now that you are set, place your blade on your material and your other hand inside the frame, in a way that it passes through the frame and grip firmly on the material. This will provide support to your cut as well as prevent you from getting injured with the blade.
Step #4: Make gentle forward and backward motion so as the blade finds a grip in the material. Once it grips, you can accelerate in small but firm motions.
Step #5: Once the cut is done, hang the bow saw. Do not place it on the ground as you may walk over the blade and damage it.
Bow Saw Safety Tips
We have to include safety tips when using a bow saw. It is a very simple to use tool but if mishandled - it can cause an injury. Here are some takeaways to help keep you safe at work.
- Keep your hands away from the blade when cutting. It should be at least 6 inches away as a safe measure.
- Always hold your material by passing your hand inside the frame and not right next to the blade. Passing your hand inside the frame ensures that only the upper flat area of the blade is in contact with your hands. This way, even it the blade kickback you’re still safe!
- Always anticipate where your material will fall. Never stand underneath a branch you’re cutting, for example. Keep a safe position.
- Don’t immediately touch the blade just after a cut. It will be hot and can cause burns.
- Keep the bow in its protective sheath if it has one. Additionally, hang it in high places and not on the ground or on a work bench, especially if you have children around.
As we have seen, the bow saw is a very handy tool to have in the workshop, or at home. It has a very versatile range of applications, and everyone will find good use for it, sooner or later. Best, it is not a very expensive tool. We recommend you go through our review one more time and pick a model to your liking.