What is a Bow Saw Used For?

Bow Saw

Are you thinking about getting a bow saw? Perhaps you have a job, and you’re wondering if the bow saw would be a good fit. In the sections below, I go into depth about what is a bow saw used for. 

The bow saw is best for pruning tasks and processing medium-sized firewood. People choose the bow saw for its lightweight design and easy portability. 

Bow saws do have some pros and cons. The saw’s handle can limit the ability to reach into tight spaces, and the blades tend to rust. 

However, with proper care, bow saws provide a light, portable, effective cutting tool for many pruning and sawing tasks. 

Now, let’s talk about the components of a bow saw and the different ways you can use this tool. 

What is a Bow Saw? 

A bow saw is a handheld saw used for pruning small to medium-sized branches. The bow saw usually comes into play when the size of the branch has exceeded the capacity of the pruners and loppers. 

This tool is called a bow saw because it has a bow-shaped handle secured to both ends of the blade. If you hold the bow saw on its side, it resembles a bow and arrow.

Not all bow saws are the same. Some are large, and some are small. There are also bow saws that can be folded for storage. 

Now, let’s discuss some of the best times to use a bow saw. 

When Should I Use a Bow Saw? 

A bow saw is a versatile tool. You can apply it to a myriad of projects. However, the sweet spot for the bow saw is limbing trees and cross-cutting small logs. You could also use a bow saw for woodworking projects.

Many people will bring the bow saw on a camping trip. Loggers often have a bow saw ready for cutting small trees and shrubs. Gardeners like a bow saw for pruning unruly branches. 

Here are a few great times to use a bow saw:

  • For pruning small to medium branches
  • For cross-cutting firewood 
  • Cutting out an old bush 
  • Felling a small tree 

The more you use your bow saw, the more comfortable you will become and the more projects will come to mind. 

How Do You Use a Bow Saw? 

Using a bow saw is similar to using any other saw. However, there are several steps to remember to help you saw smoothly. 

Here are the guidelines for using a bow saw:

  1. Safety. Remember that, even though bow saws are not battery-powered, they can still be dangerous. Wood chips can still fly, and if the saw slips, it’s easy to cut yourself. Wear safety glasses and a sturdy pair of gloves. 
  2. Saw. Inspect the saw. Make sure it’s sharp before taking it out for a day of work. Also, be sure all the screws are holding things together and are tight – you don’t want it falling apart during use! If you notice a lot of rust build up on your saw, use a piece of sandpaper to remove some of it. A smooth saw won’t create as much friction, allowing for easier cutting. 
  3. Use oil. If you’re preparing for a long day of cutting with the bow saw, consider applying some cutting oil to the saw blade. 
  4. Log set up. If you’re cutting up a log, be sure to balance the log, so there are no pinch points. You want the material to fall away from the blade. 
  5. Begin your cut. Use steady pushes and pulls. Try to get into the rhythm. Let the saw do the work. 

Now, let’s go over the pros and cons of the bow saw. 

What are the Pros and Cons of Bow Saws? 

Bow saws are not universal tools. Though bow saws are a useful tool for their purpose, they do have some downsides. If they are not used for their intended purpose, you will be frustrated with the result and be more likely to injure yourself or break your tool. 

So, let’s discuss the pros of the bow saw first, and then we will cover some of the cons. 

Here are four pros to a bow saw: 

  1. Bow saws are inexpensive 
  2. They are light and portable 
  3. Bow saws are easy to maintain 
  4. Bow saws can perform a wide range of cutting tasks. 

Now, let’s explore each of these benefits in more depth. 

Bow Saws are Inexpensive 

A good bow saw may cost you some money, but it will be far less than a chainsaw. If you have some tree limbs that need to be cleared in your backyard, a bow saw can be a quick and effective way to get the job done. 

We always recommend buying a quality bow saw, as a cheap one will be frustrating. 

Bow Saws are Light and Portable 

If you’re going on a camping trip, you can easily pack a bow saw for cutting firewood. Not only can many bow saws be folded down for storage and transport, but using them in a public place won’t be a disturbance like a loud chainsaw. 

Bow Saws are Easy to Maintain 

Have you ever watched a video on maintaining a chainsaw? There’s a lot to it. It’s almost like taking care of a car. Now, make no mistake, a good chainsaw is invaluable (and worth the time maintaining) – if you need it.

Bow saws are relatively easy to maintain. You just keep them clean, keep them dry, and keep them oiled. That’s about it. 

Bow Saws Can Perform a Wide Range of Cutting Tasks 

Bow saws come in handy for maintaining your landscape. Cutting out a dead bush, pruning a tree, and everything in between. 

Along with being a great landscaping tool, bow saws are also a wonderful camping tool – cutting up small firewood and clearing an area for a campsite, these things fall well within the bow saw’s ability. 

Downsides to Bow Saws 

In this section, we discuss some of the downsides to using a bow saw. Also, we will give you several ideas for avoiding these problems. 

Here are some cons to the bow saw: 

  1. Breakable 
  2. Thin cutting profile 
  3. Uncomfortable 
  4. Limited cutting depth 

Now, let’s explore these in more depth. 

Bow Saws can Break 

If you grab a cheap bow saw, you’ll notice trouble will the blade and handle. Bow saw blades are not particularly robust, and they can bend if placed under too much stress. 

Also, some bow saws have a low-quality handle and brace – these elements can bend and rust fairly easily. 

To combat these issues, spend a little extra money on a nice bow saw, and take your time to maintain it. 

Bow Saws Have a Thin Cutting Profile 

Though a thin blade isn’t an inherently bad thing, the blade on the bow saw is susceptible to becoming pinched between heavy lumber. Also, the teeth on the bow saw can easily become bent, throwing off all future cuts. 

Getting a quality bow saw and being careful not to damage the blade will prevent issues. 

Bow Saws can be Uncomfortable 

Many bow saws are designed for simplicity. Unfortunately, this leads to an uncomfortable grip. A long day of cutting with a bow saw can lead to blisters and sore hands. To prevent this, consider wearing gloves. Also, you may be able to purchase a bow saw with more comfortable grips. 

If not, consider using athletic tape to fashion an improved handle. 

Bow Saws Have Limited Cutting Depth 

Due to the bar extending for the handle, bow saws will have trouble cutting directly through a thick piece of wood. The design of the bow saw has a lot to do with this. 

Some bow saws have a handle that narrows with the blade near the end, while others have a large, swooping handle for deep cutting. 

Just be mindful of the cutting depth when purchasing a bow saw. Typically, it can cut a maximum of one-half its blade length. 

In the next section, we discuss how to maintain a bow saw. 

How to Maintain Your Bow Saw 

A quality bow saw can give you years of hard use. However, only if you properly maintain your tool. Below, we list several things to remember to maintain your bow saw. 

How to keep your bow saw working:

  • Protect your saw from moisture – like any tool, a bow saw will rust if exposed to water. Store your saw in a cool and dry place. 
  • Keep your bow saw lubricated – though a this tool doesn’t have moving parts like a chainsaw, the saw still needs to move through the wood. Lubrication not only prevents rust but it keeps the blade slicing through material. 
  • Use a blade cover – the teeth on a bow saw can become bent and dull if exposed to dirt and accidental bumping. A blade cover will protect you from cuts and scrapes and will also keep your blade safe. A simple blade cover can be made out of cardboard. Also, consider periodically removing the blade for cleaning and long-term storage. 
  • Routinely inspect the hardware – the bow saw often has several screws holding everything in place. These screws can become loose during frequent use, or worse; they can rust into place, preventing you from replacing the blade. 

There are many varieties of bow saws. Be sure to follow all manufacturer recommendations for routine care. Of course, you hear this all the time, but it really is true! People who made the bow saw have the best information on caring for it.