If we’re being honest, the main reason to buy a power tool is to avoid the pain of using one’s muscles. Oh sure, we dress it up with claims that a power tool will make us more productive, or give better results, but more often than not it’s the memory of how your forearm feels after a day of twisting a screwdriver that makes you buy a cordless driver.
It appears that [Artisan Makes] has a high tolerance for pain, seeing how the main prep tool in his metal shop is a plain old hacksaw. So in an effort to speed up his stock prep, he turned not to a bandsaw or cutoff saw, but instead built the world’s silliest hacksaw. It’s the metalworking equivalent of the two-man bucksaws that lumberjacks used to fell trees before chainsaws came along, and at a meter and half in length, it’s about the size of one too. Modifying the frame of his trusty hacksaw was easy — he just popped the end pieces off and attached them to an extra-long piece of tube stock. Finding a 1.5-meter hacksaw blade was the main challenge; not exactly a big-box store item, that. So a section of metal-cutting bandsaw blade was modified to fit the frame, and it was off to the races.
Or not. The video below tells the tale of woe, which starts with the fact that [Artisan]’s shop is too small for the hilariously long hacksaw. Solving the fixturing problems didn’t soo much to help, though — there was no way to tension the blade enough to get it to stop wobbling during cutting. It was also clear that the huge saw wasn’t able to apply enough downforce on the stock to get good cuts. Maybe with a second set of hands, though…
There are plenty of ways to improve hacksawing in the shop, and while this isn’t one of them, we sure appreciate the chuckle we got out of it. And you really should check out [Artisan Makes]’ channel — his more serious stuff is really good.
23 thoughts on “Fail Of The Week: A Bigger Hacksaw Isn’t A Better Hacksaw”
Probably with a wider blade you could’ve gotten rid of part of the wobble.
Go Japanese and cut by reversing the blade, keeping the blade in tension. Much better control too.
Isn’t that normal on hacksaws? I’ve always had my hacksaws cut on the draw.
I think he means to flip the blade upside down so that the teeth are facing inside the frame. You would then have the frame under the metal stock and the blade being pulled down onto the stock.
I was always taught to have the saw cut on the push, not the pull
Nope. Note the reference to Japanese saws. They are made to cut on the pull stroke.
There’s also a possible reference to Ruroni Kenshin, who fights with a katana that is sharpened on the back of the blade instead of the front. Hard to say when the comment was so vague.
A hacksaw should cut on the push stroke, so teeth pointing to the tip, not the handle.
I had a highschool shop teacher who would intentionally mount his hacksaw blades backwards. He said they lasted longer that way. I wonder how many young adults were permanently turned off of hand projects by him?
Apropos nothing, I was surprised (and annoyed) to note that when I bought a cheap pack of hacksaw blades, they were all slightly different lengths. The intent was to mount them on rod (and some guiding slots in aluminium angle) to give a simple cheap laser cutting surface for in a K40 – but the lengths varied enough to make it impossible. I may revisit it later with individually tunable hooks.
lol I normally hacksaw at around middle c or middle b.
A big part of the problem is that band-saw blades are less tempered (hardened) because they have to flex to go around the bend and a harder blade would suffer factures from metal fatigue.
Hacksaw blades are much harder and won’t flex intentionally.
This however would be a very good tool to give the “apprentice” along with instruction to cut through a meter long section of plate steel.
Most steels are in the 190-210GPa for young modulus, meaning that they all have more or less the same stiffness, no matter what the hardness is, that’s a difficult thing to admit until you test it.
Bandsaw blades have a lower cross section than hacksaw blades, as you said for bending correctly around the wheels.
The change in hardness does change the maximum tension though – a softer steel will yield at a lower tension, so can’t be tightened as much
So while the stiffness of the material is the same, the stiffness of the structure is different – higher tension / preload means more force for the same lateral deflection, because you’re primarily changing the angle that the initial tension acts, rather than using the stiffness of the material (like how a floppy string can seem stiff when under tension)
So a loose bandsaw blade and a loose hacksaw blade, of the same length and area, will flex similarly on the bench, but you can put more tension on the hacksaw blade before yield so the assembled saw is stiffer
Now I’m imagining Cloud using this hacksaw to cut a strip of steel plate to make his iconic sword.
Personally, I prefer power tools because they make me more productive and give better results.
One of the best purchases I have made in the last couple of years was a Milwaukee “hack-sawz-all” which I use to cut bar stock before doing lathe work and such. It does it in 1/4 the time I used to with a hacksaw and does a better job. It is handy for all kinds of things (even pruning things in the yard).
I have a sawz-all type thing too, but bar stock is cut in the same sliding mitre saw I use for wood work. It was advertised as being able to go through nails, screws and bits of girder, so everything has been thrown at it. Does a surprisingly OK job on wood even after tackling 3″ steel bar stock.
It works better on wood though and is certainly quieter! Wood chips sting less when they hit you too.
Power tools are better for some jobs because they just do it better, not because it saves muscle. A nailer can drive a nail where a hammer can’t. A drill press can drive a nice perfect hole where a manual drill would be sloppy. A chop saw can cut angles that would be very hard with a hand saw.
Right tool for the job.
The solution to the tension issue is to have a steel cable a few inches higher up for tensioning. (Sorry, bad explanation… there’s a wood saw that works like this and I can’t remember it’s name…)
I’ve seen numerous antique buck saws that have a tensioning device above the main frame member.
Here’s a more modern hacksaw with the same basic methodology applied:
picture made me laugh,a few points on hand hacking, the blade needs to be singing tight,which will then tend to snap off indivdual teeth if you wobble or twist with the blade in the cut,slow steady longer strokes get the job done,especialy if there
is any play in your vice or a resonance in your bench/vice set up.
I discovered a new trick for cutting metal with a jig saw last week,the snow bank bench,conforms to any shape,absorbs vibration,provides lubrication and cooling.
The solution’s easy. Move on to a rotating blade and attach a high torque motor. But wait… Isn’t that a chop saw?
Seriously, I see no way to solve this one as is. To eliminate any blade flexing and wobble you need to tension the blade. And to do that you need a much stronger backbone to hold up to the tension. The backbone would likely need to be at least 6″ tall at the center and at least 2″ tall at the ends to stay the same width. And then the two arms would need to be strengthened too.
I made a folding wooden bucksaw for backcountry camping with a 16″ blade. It worked great, but when I sawed anything over 3″dia, the stroke was annoyingly short. Made another with a 24″ blade, and changed scale to increase the tension linearly.
Terrible. Increased tension to 2x the original. Still terrible. Had to use a blade 2x taller to get similar stability against twisting. Mods made the new saw >2x mass of original.
Been travelling with the original for years since. Quite happily.
There is a lot of Engineering in the hand tools we take for granted.
That reminds me of the difference between guitar and Bass guitar strings. The length of Bass Guitars strings are longer than a standard Guitar and are also thicker but vibrate at a lower frequency. However, as you progress along the fretboard, the strings get thinner, the tension increases and so does the frequency of the string. If you try to use a thicker E string in place of a G string and tune it to G, the tension can be too great and you’ll snap the string. Odd how increasing tension requires thinner material.
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