When it comes to general garden maintenance, like pruning and shaping trees and shrubs, a bow saw is a much more practical and low maintenance garden tool than a chainsaw.
In our buyer’s guide, we’re looking at the sharpest, most durable options on the market, as well as how to use and maintain the best bow saws.
10 Best Bow Saws Buyers Guide and Reviews for 2021
What is a Bow Saw?
A bow saw is a small, handheld saw with a curved metal frame and a straight, sharp-toothed blade. This makes a shape similar to a hunting bow, which is how it got its name. These saws are generally 2-3 feet in length, taking a 21/24/30/36 inch blade.
They are designed to be used by one person and require manual operation, although saws with a high-quality blade won’t require too much sweat and manual labor to operate!
How to Choose the Right Bow Saw
Like any other gardening tools, there are a few things to consider when looking for a bow saw, including:
Short bow saws of around 17 inches in length are better-suited to smaller jobs like trimming away small branches, prunin small trees and ornamental shrubbery, etc. Longer bow saws can handle tougher jobs like felling trees and making firewood.
Green or seasoned wood
Different blades work better on soft green wood while others are designed for use on dead or seasoned limbs. Bow saws for green wood have rake-like teeth that are spaced more widely to stop the teeth getting clogged up with the softer fibers, while saw blades for dry wood have longer, sharper teeth for slicing through harder materials.
Some bow saws, usually the smaller ones, are more triangular in shape than bow-shaped. This helps make maneuvering them into tighter corners to prune trees or shrubs much easier.
Over time, depending on use, humidity and temperature, the bow saw tension tends to change, making the blade wobbly and more dangerous to use.
A tension adjuster will help you prevent issues like that and keep the blade firm on the bow. Some bow saws have an automatic tension adjuster.
Handle and guard
The handle should be comfortable, offer good grip and support, and protect your hand with a built-in hand guard. This will help keep your hand in position as you saw, even if you start sweating, and protect the knuckles while you work.
These saws are incredibly sharp, so a good quality protective sheath is essential to keeping the teeth sharp as well as preventing injuries.
Quality, replaceable blades
Good quality steel blades will last longer and work more efficiently, making bigger tasks as quick and easy as smaller ones. However, no blade will last forever, so it’s a good idea to look for a bow saw that comes with replacement blades that you can switch out.
Bow saws come in all colors, but it’s worth looking for one that has a very brightly colored handle, as this makes it easier to spot on the ground or in the trees as you work, especially if you are working with dense growth.
Bow Saw Safety Tips
Bow saws are incredibly sharp and can be very dangerous to use, so always take basic safety precautions, including:
Wearing safety clothing
Heavy duty, closed-toe shoes or work boot, heavy duty gloves, and long pants made of a thick and durable material.
Carry it safely
Always carry the saw at the center of the metal frame with the teeth pointing downwards to the ground. Pass it to another person by offering them the handle end of the saw.
Prepare the area
Keep small children and pets out of the work area. Do not leave the saw on the ground where it can be stood on or tripped over.
Replace the protective sheath
As soon as you stop sawing, put the protective sheath back over the blade.
How to Use a Bow Saw
1. Always cut from the upper surface of the branch downwards, applying pressure on the push and pull stroke and positioning yourself above the branch.
2. Rest the blade against the wood in a vertical position, working from waist-height if possible (it’s a good idea to invest in a sawhorse if you are using it to cut lots of tree limbs into firewood)
3. Use your dominant hand to operate the saw, and your non-dominant hand to stabilize the tree limb. Keep the hand on the wood clear of the blade with your thumb tucked in under the limb.
4. Be quite gentle on the first few cuts as the bow saw can snag or stick here, which may cause it to bend or skip. Work at it slowly until the blade is fully beneath the surface layers before applying more pressure.
5. Use as much of the saw blade’s length as possible as you cut, without bending your arm too much.
6. Push down and forwards on your push stroke (no need to use excessive pressure) at about a 40 degree angle. This allows you to cut faster.
The 10 Best Bow Saws for 2021
You will notice a number of Bahco bow saws in this review. They are known for their quality and durability. The 10-30-23 bow saw is a great selection.
Here are some of the important features contributing to its fame:
- As noted by the title, the Bahco 30-inch is designed for green wood. However, you will find it useful in cutting small, dry wood pieces as well.
- Because the blade is 30 inches, it is quite a beast of a saw. You will be able to complete most tasks. A 30 inch saw is considered on the larger size for bow saws.
- This particular bow saw features a knuckle protector as well as an added grip. These will help secure your hand and prevent any accidental injuries during sawing.
- You are able to cut branches 3 to 6 inches in diameter.- It will take a bit of time, but you could easily saw a log 12 inches thick.
- This comes with a plastic, snap in place blade protector. It is convenient and a safety feature.
- It is lightweight and weighs only 1.9 pounds. This is, however, a bit heavier than a few other bow saws. This is due to the much longer blade.
- Because it is designed for both green and dry wood, it won’t cut through the green wood as easily.
Green wood bow saws have a specific blade style to help clear out the saw; this is a blend of styles.
The Truper is a Mexican company, producing top quality tools. You can trust this brand. They have been in production for over 40 years. Everyone loves to purchase tools from a trusted company.
- The Truper 30255 is a very lightweight model; it weighs only 1.3 pounds
- This model was specifically designed for cutting green wood.
- One of the popular features of this bow saw is the cam and lever tension system, which allows you to keep the blade tight. This gives you straight cuts, at a faster rate.
- The 30255 has an added hand and knuckle protector. It provides additional comfort, while cutting tough logs and branches.
- The blades come sharpened and ready to go to work.
- The price is on the lower side, making it perfect for the novice gardener or just random jobs
- You can easily cut branches 4 to 5 inches in diameter.
- The bright orange color makes finding it easy. It is easy to lose bow saws when placed down on the ground.
- The 30255 is a shorter saw, only 21 inches. This can make larger jobs a bit more difficult and time consuming.
- A number of customers have complained that the rivets break easily due to lack of quality. They are easily replaced, but it is an inconvenience for many users.
Fiskars made a lightweight and strong bow saw, ideal for many tasks. It is a popular option for gardeners. Here are some great features to consider.
- The blade is a hardened carbon steel blade with a rust inhibitor. Carbon steel is one of the strongest options available and is commonly used for survival knives.
However, it does rust easier than stainless steel; this is why the rust inhibitor is a necessary part of the design.
- They added a safety tension lever, located along the side, for more control.
- Fiskars offers a lifetime warranty! This is a great show of confidence in their quality.
- The frame is a steel, tubular design, which is strong enough to endure added stress while working on long jobs.
- The lower price tag makes it a very appealing option to those on a budget.
- Having a 21 inch blade can create additional work for you. It may cause some projects to be more time consuming.
- There is no added knuckle guard nor an added grip. This can make working for long periods hard.
The Bahco 10-21-51 is a strong, durable, nicely designed and one of the best bow saw for cutting trees, dry wood and lumber.
- The Bahco 332 is a lightweight bow saw, weighing 1.3 pounds.
- Bahco used high quality steel; it won’t bend or bow even when heavy pressure is applied during usage.
- The blade cuts through dry wood very easily. You will be able to cut straight through with no problems.
- You can adjust the tension and blade easily. The mechanism is located on the handle which makes sawing simpler.
- This particular model has an added hand guard, so there is no need worrying about damaging your hand during the job.
- The frame has a pointed nose, which allows you to work better in smaller spaces. Because of this, many people use this saw for roofing and pruning.
- The length of this bow saw is 21 inches, which means you may have to work harder at certain jobs.
- A few customers have experienced trouble with the blade securely setting.
The Buckster is a different frame from other bow saws listed on this review. It is a fold down bow saw that has some great features you will want to check out!
- When this bow saw is not in use, it easily folds down into a cylindrical tube. This makes it easy to store and transport. Also, if you camp, a folding bow saw is easy to pack into a backpack.
- You can cut a log that is up to 13 inches in diameter! There won’t be many tasks you cannot accomplish with this tool.
- The Buckster is lightweight only 1.3lbs.
- Filzer added insulated rubber handles to both sides of the saw. This makes long jobs more comfortable.
Additionally, it provides a solid grip for your hands; no one wants to have an accident while sawing a log.
- This style of bow saw fell out of popularity decades ago. However, this saw is strong, and it is going to blow you away with its power.
It can saw through logs quickly and cleanly.
- While the frame is strong, it is made from aluminum. This won’t be as strong as an all steel bow saw.
- The weakness of the design is the folding mechanism side. It could potentially come apart during usage.
- This particular bow saw is only 19 inches wide. It is much smaller than usual. While it can cut logs of a decent size, it will take some time to finish these tasks.
However, the size doesn’t indicate what it can cut through.
This versatile bow saw can cut both green and dry wood thanks to an action blade tightener release that makes switching between different 21 inch blades quick and easy.
It has a 6-1/4 inch cutting depth, high-quality, extra hard chrome alloy steel blades and a durable steel frame, so it’s built to last. It weighs just 13.6 ounces and comes with a GreatNeck Limited Lifetime warranty.
- Good Built
- Extra tough steel blades
- Cuts green and dry wood
- Good value for money
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Smaller bow saw at 21 inches, so only suited to smaller tasks
- Could be more ergonomic and more comfortable to use
Another good option from one of the strongest brands in the industry, this Bahco bow saw is more expensive than some of the other options but you still get great value – especially if you are looking for a tool you are going to use regularly. It’s heavier at 1.9 lbs., but still easy to use and maneuver.
The blades are very sharp and very high quality, and the frame was designed using the patented ERGOTM process for a comfortable and supportive sawing process. Ideal for tough environments and commercial use, this bow saw comes with blades for both green and dry wood, and is protected from rust and corrosion.
- Professional quality blade
- Ideal for tough, regular use
- Can cut green and dry wood
- ERGOTM ergonomic design
- Rust and corrosion protection
- Tension mechanism for more powerful, straight cuts
- Range of options from 21-30 inches
Another commercial-grade 24-inch bow saw that is suited to professional or home use, the BDS6510 weighs 1.36lbs, has a high carbon steel Blade ArmorTM cutting blade, durable steel frame and an ergonomic plastic handle.
It has a high-tension control lever, protective hand guard, and the blades can easily be switched out as needed. It works well on both green and dry wood, and the larger handle allows you to use both hands while sawing, if necessary.
- Good quality blades
- Larger, ergonomically-designed handle for comfort
- Fairly lightweight large bow saw
- Affordable price and good value for money
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Blades cannot be sharpened – must be replaced
- Slightly challenging to use the tensioning lever
This is a small bow saw that’s ideal for household tasks, working in a workshop, camping or trimming or pruning smaller branches. It has the bonus of being a 2-in-1 bow saw and hacksaw for increased functionality, and has a cutting depth of about 6 inches.
It cuts dry wood and green wood easily, and has a high-quality, sharp steel blade along with tension adjustment. The saw offers good, ergonomic grip, handguards for protection and a protective sheath for safe storage.
- 2-in-1 hacksaw and bow saw functionality
- Ergonomic grip
- Durable metal frame
- Compact, lightweight design for easy portability
- Blades are not tough enough to handle bigger tasks and thicker wood
This bow saw is a great option for established gardens that need annual maintenance for trees and shrubs. It’s lightweight and well-made, with a high-quality steel blade that cuts well on the push and on the pull for efficient cutting, and the triangular shape makes it easy to maneuverer into tighter spaces.
It’s a sturdy and basic garden tool for everyday use, and the blades can be switched out easily, making it a great no-nonsense gardening tool.
- Heavy-duty steel frame
- Tempered double-cut steel blade
- Simple design
- Easy to replace the blades
- Good hand support
- Basic model that lacks more innovative features and accessories
The Best Bow Saws for Firewood, Camping and Garden Maintenance
Bow saws are a useful tool for everyday gardening, with none of the fuss and hassle of prepping and using a chainsaw. Ideal for small jobs like trimming back tree branches from roofing or fencing, pruning your trees or cutting firewood, these gardening tools are versatile, easy to use and affordable.
The best bow saws come with safety features like protective blade sheaths and guards, and are made with high-quality materials that offer long-lasting performance and durability.
When choosing from best bow saws on the market as recommended by our reviews, you’ll get a tool that offers precision cutting, safety features, and great durability.