Graphical Construction Glossary >> Tools. >> Hand Tools >> Bow Saw

Bow Saw
In woodworking: A thin metal blade in a metal or wooden frame. Used for crosscutting and ripping and some curved cuts.
Buck Saw
In woodworking: A thin metal blade in a tubular metal frame. Used for crosscutting, mostly lopping tree branches and sawing up logs.

an english bowsaw

teeth detail bowsaw

These tools are very simple and in many cases the wooden ones are made by their owners. The only thing to buy is the blade. Like a hacksaw or a coping saw the blade can be rotated to suit the work.

The blade in the one above is tensioned in the traditional way of tightening two cords with a tourniquet. The lever is made to just simply rest against the cross bar when the tension is applied.

At the right is a detail of an old Vietnamese saw. This one has a a timber cross bar at the top in place of the twisted cord above, so in this case the saw maker used a nut and bolt to do the tensioning of the blade.

These saws work on the pull stroke only.

One last point, taught to me more than 50 years ago but that seems to be totally ignored today. These saws rely on tension to work. A tight blade is a good blade. Never leave the saw for long periods under tension. The frame will adapt to the tension by bending and so the next time it will need more tension, and so on and so on.

steel bow saw or buck saw

Above is another type of saw entirely, which also gets called a bow saw. In this case I would say that the American term of Buck Sawis probably more appropriate.

  • These saws are cheap and the blade is thrown away when it becomes dull.
  • They work on the push and the pull stroke, see the detail of the teeth below.
  • Buck saws not rotate the blade sideways.
  • They use a simple, quick and very effective lever system to tension the blade.
  • Buck saws come in two handed sizes also. See here for more on two man saws.
  • Read the point above about leaving them permanent tension. These saws in particular bend over time and become useless. If you buy a good one, take out the blade if you are storing it away.
the lever on a buck saw

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Please Note! The information on this site is offered as a guide only!  When we are talking about areas where building regulations or safety regulations could exist,the information here could be wrong for your area.  It could be out of date!  Regulations breed faster than rabbits!
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