What is a Bow Saw Used for – Wood Guide 101

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Written by: Mohammad Sameer

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Are you looking to add a versatile handsaw to your toolbox? If so, a bow saw may be exactly what you need. Bow saws are unique manual saws that can cut through wood, plastic and even metal with ease.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about bow saw uses, from their history and design to proper techniques for getting the most out of your bow saw. We’ll also provide tips on choosing the best bow saw for your needs.

Whether you’re a weekend warrior tackling DIY projects or a professional tradesman, a quality bow saw can make many cutting tasks much simpler. Read on to learn all about the many uses of the handy bow saw!

What is a Bow Saw Used For?

A bow saw is a versatile hand tool used for cutting branches, logs, and other wood materials. With its thin blade tightened into a metal frame, the bow saw allows for efficient and precise cuts not easily achieved with other handsaws.

A bow saw is a handheld saw used for cutting small to medium-sized branches and logs. It is also used for cutting curves in wood and trimming tree branches. Bow saws are often used when the size of the branch exceeds the capacity of pruners and loppers. They are most commonly used for applications where speed is more important than a neat finish.

Understanding the common uses of a bow saw helps homeowners, campers, and outdoorsmen determine when carrying one can significantly assist their needs.

Cutting Branches and Small Trees

Cutting Branches and Small Trees

One of the most frequent uses of a bow saw is cutting branches, saplings, and small trees up to around 6 inches in diameter. The bow saw’s blade can cut on both the push and pull strokes due to its bi-directional tooth pattern.

This makes quick work of pruning and trimming branches. The thin profile of the blade also makes it easier to manoeuvre around obstacles.

For these reasons, the bow saw is a preferred tool for trail maintenance crews clearing brush and homeowners pruning trees around their property.

Harvesting Firewood

Harvesting Firewood

A bow saw is also commonly used for harvesting firewood for campfires, wood stoves, or fireplaces. The bow saw can cut logs and branches up to around 6 inches thick, allowing users to section trunks and large branches into firewood-sized pieces.

The rigid metal frame and aggressive tooth pattern allow the bow saw to cut green wood without binding. When felling or bucking wood, the relatively small size and weight of a bow saw also make it safer to operate versus a chainsaw.

Backcountry Logging

Outdoorsmen venturing deep into the wilderness frequently pack a bow saw. Its hand-powered operation, lightweight, and compact size make it ideal for backcountry logging tasks.

The bow saw allows users to clear downed trees blocking trails or harvest logs for building shelters and other camp structures. When weight is critical, a bow saw lets campers leave the chainsaw at home but still tackle necessary logging tasks.

Emergency Tree Removal

Emergency Tree Removal

Storms and other natural events often bring down trees and limbs across roads and paths. A bow saw’s portability and fast-cutting action make it the perfect emergency tree removal tool.

Public utility crews and homeowners can quickly clear nuisance tree falls with a bow saw when chainsaws are overkill or unavailable. Having one on hand can save the day when tree damage occurs.

With the bow saw’s ability to tackle small- to medium-sized cutting tasks, it proves itself as an indispensable wilderness and homesteading tool.

Keeping one around for trail clearing, firewood processing, shelter building, and storm damage is wise for any outdoor enthusiast.

The bow saw’s simplicity, lightweight, and affordable price make it easy to include in your home or adventure kit.

Consider picking up a bow saw for your next backcountry escape or home project requiring wood cutting and tree trimming. The bow saw’s versatile cutting capabilities and portable design will prove useful time and time again in a variety of situations.

How to Use a Bow Saw Properly for Safe and Effective Cutting

A bow saw is a versatile hand tool used for cutting branches, logs, and other wood materials. With proper technique, a bow saw can make quick work of small to medium-sized cutting jobs.

Follow these simple steps to use a bow saw efficiently and safely.

Select the Right Blade for the Job

Bow saws utilize removable blades that come in different lengths and tooth configurations. Choose a blade that suits the thickness and texture of the material you want to cut:

  • Coarse tooth blades – For green or wet wood that requires more aggressive cutting. The large raker teeth remove material quickly.
  • Fine tooth blades – For dry or seasoned wood. The small teeth cut slowly but smoothly.
  • Long blades – 21″ or larger for cutting thicker branches or logs.
  • Short blades – 10″ to 12″ for precision cuts in thinner material.

Match the blade length to the size of the workpiece so you can cut all the way through in one pass.

Secure the Blade Properly

  • Loosen the wingnuts on the bow saw frame and insert the blade ends into the slots.
  • Tighten the wingnuts just enough to hold the blade taut. Overtightening can damage the blade.

Tip: For easier insertion and removal, lubricate the blade ends with wax, oil, or grease.

Stabilize the Workpiece

  • If cutting a log or branch, place it on a sawbuck or teeter to hold it off the ground.
  • For flush cuts, clamp the workpiece in a vise.
  • Use a sawhorse for longboards that need support.
  • Hold small workpieces by hand, but secure them firmly.

Proper workpiece support prevents binding and allows you to cut accurately.

Use Proper Stance and Grip

  • Stand with your dominant side toward the workpiece.
  • Hold the bow saw frame handle in your dominant hand. Let your weaker hand grip the tip of the frame.
  • Position your torso and elbows to keep the blade perpendicular to the workpiece.
  • Lean your body weight into the cut to apply pressure.

Maintaining proper bow saw form will increase cutting efficiency.

Let the Blade Do the Work

  • Begin each stroke by pulling the blade toward you. This draws the teeth through the wood.
  • On the push stroke, ease off the pressure and allow the blade to glide back through the cut.
  • Establish a steady cutting rhythm. Long, smooth strokes are the most effective.
  • Avoid forcing or twisting the blade, which can cause it to bind.

Allowing the sharp saw teeth to cut reduces effort and prevents errors.

Watch for Kickback

  • When the teeth emerge from the workpiece at the end of a cut, the blade releases energy and can “kick” powerfully.
  • Maintain control of the saw and be prepared for kickback at the end of each stroke.
  • Cut progressively deeper until cutting through the bottom to avoid kickback.

Stay alert for a kickback to avoid injury or losing control of the saw.

Learning proper bow saw technique takes practice. Follow these tips to maximize cutting action while protecting your safety. Share this guide with friends to help them use bow saws effectively!


What is the difference between a bow saw and a wood saw?

The main difference between a bow saw and a wood saw is the size of the blade. Bow saws have a larger blade than wood saws, which makes them better suited for cutting larger branches and logs. Wood saws have a smaller blade, which makes them better suited for cutting smaller branches and twigs.

Can you cut wood with a bow saw?

Yes, you can cut wood with a bow saw. However, it is important to use the right size blade for the job. A bow saw with a large blade is best for cutting large branches and logs, while a bow saw with a small blade is best for cutting small branches and twigs.

Are bow saws good for cutting trees?

Bow saws can be used to cut trees, but they are not the best tool for the job. A chainsaw is a better choice for cutting trees because it is more powerful and can cut through wood more quickly. However, bow saws can be a good option for cutting small trees or for cutting trees in areas where chainsaws are not allowed.

What uses a bow?

A bow is a curved stick that is used to propel an arrow. Bows can be used for hunting, archery, and other activities. In agriculture, bows are sometimes used to shoot pests, such as rabbits and rodents.

What size is a bow saw?

The size of a bow saw is determined by the length of the blade. Bow saws typically have blades that range in length from 12 to 24 inches. The size of the blade that you need will depend on the size of the branches or logs that you will be cutting.


The bow saw is a handy cutting tool that every DIYer, homeowner, and outdoor enthusiast should have in their toolkit. Its unique thin blade and rigid frame allow it to tackle small- to medium-sized cutting jobs that would be difficult with other handsaws.

With a quality bow saw at your side, you’ll be prepared to handle pruning tasks, firewood processing, trail clearing and even emergency tree removal when the need arises. Just be sure to select the right length and type of blade for the job and employ the proper bow saw technique for fast, safe, and frustration-free cutting.

Share this bow saw guide with friends so they too can understand the usefulness of this often under-appreciated saw. And let us know about your experiences using a bow saw in the comments below!

Ready to add this versatile tool to your DIY arsenal?

Check out top-rated bow saws on Amazon using our convenient links. With the right bow saw, you’ll be ready to saw through your next cutting challenge with ease.

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About Mohammad Sameer

My name is Mohammad Sameer, the founder of SoundproofGears. My hypersensitive hearing turned me into a lifelong seeker of silence. After years of research, I've become an expert on soundproofing techniques and materials. In November 2022 I launched this site to share my knowledge and help others find acoustic sanctuary. About More