best bow saw uk

Best Bow Saw UK – 2021 (Buying Guide & Reviews)

Last Updated on 22 September 2021

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The bow saw is a handy tool to have in your toolkit, even though power tools do the same job quicker. I.e. bow saws weigh a lot less than chainsaws, making them much easier to handle and manoeuvre. This feature is beneficial when you’re perched precariously in a tree, as I have on many occasions. 

However, with so many bow saws on the UK market, how do you pick the right one for your needs? Fear not, we have you covered after spending many hours reviewing the most popular bow saws available. Read on to discover which bow saw wins our title of ‘Best Bow Saw UK’ in this comprehensive buying guide.

In a Hurry? Here’s our Top Pick for 2021:

Sale
Bahco 10-24-23 Bowsaw 24In
  • Innovation has been the basis for growth, making Bahco a leading brand of hand tools. Bahco is the flagship of the SNA Europe company.
  • Bowsaw frame developed according to the scientific ERGO process
  • Design for demanding applications and tough environments as construction sites
  • Better and stronger blade fitting for easy and safe blade change

Last update on 2021-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


What Makes the Best Bow Saw?

To look at, you would think that all bow saws are the same. Well, most of the bow saws I’ve seen are similar in shape, and they all use a frame to hold the blade in tension, but there are subtle differences that make choosing the right one more challenging than you’d think.

Speed vs Accuracy

All bow saws cut quickly on the forward and back strokes, but they’re not remarkably accurate. However, accuracy isn’t what you’re looking for in a bow saw. 

Bow saws are for heavy-duty cutting, such as pruning and felling trees or cutting floorboards with concealed edges.

Pro Tip: If you use a bow saw to fell a tree, cut out a wedge shape on the side facing the direction you want the tree to fall, then start cutting from the opposite side. It’s also a good idea to remove some branches on one side so that most of the weight is on the wedged side.

The two main elements of a bow saw are the handle and the blade.

The Handle

man cutting tree with large bow saw

Modern bow saws have a tubular steel frame that holds the blade in tension, and on many models, this forms the handle. Some prefer it this way because you can hold it in two hands and cut at different angles, even reverse the saw as in the image above.

More expensive brands tend to go for the pistol grip. You hold these types of saws in one hand – if you’ve ever clung onto a tree while cutting a branch, you will understand the importance of this – or two if you use the frame as well.

Pistol grips also protect the knuckles on the forward stroke and make it more comfortable to grip.

The Blade

bow saw cutting through timber

Bow saws are generally cross-cut saws with between 3 and 8 teeth per inch (TPI). However, what differentiates one blade from another is the teeth pattern, as this dictates the type of wood it can cut.

The peg-tooth blade has a set of three teeth spaced closely together with a gap before the next set. This arrangement is suitable for cutting seasoned, dry wood. If you need to cut wet or green wood, you should use a raker-tooth blade. Sometimes referred to as a peg and raker, this blade has a set of four teeth – the pegs – and a shorter, double-pointed raker in between the sets. The raker removes the green wood that would clog up the gaps in the blade.

Peg and raker blades tend to be extremely sharp, so choose one with a safety guard attached as it’s easy to cut your fingers when changing blades.

It’s easy to cut your fingers when using a bow saw, so always wear thick gardening gloves and keep your non-cutting hand away from the cutting point.

Blade Length

Bow saws come in lengths varying from 525mm to 750mm, and the shape of the frame varies with the size. 

Shorter bow saws usually have a narrow frame at the end opposite to the handle. This feature allows them to can cut in tight spaces where other branches are in the way.

Larger bow saws have a deeper frame along the whole length. This extra depth allows these saws to cut into the trunk of the tree when felling. 

The depth of frame and length of blade limits the size of the tree you can cut down with a bow saw. Bear this in mind when choosing a saw for this purpose, as you might need something bigger.

Pro Tip: When cutting off a heavy branch, start cutting from below the branch. Cutting from below prevents the bark from tearing away from the remaining wood, damaging the tree.


How to Choose the Best Bow Saw in the UK

Here are a few pointers:

  • Ease of changing the blade
  • Length of blade
  • Ability to tension the blade
  • Type of handle

Your final choice depends on your project, but here are my top three bow saws based on the four factors above:

Best Bow Saw UK – The Top 3 in 2021

1. Bahco 10-24-23 Bowsaw

Sale
Bahco 10-24-23 Bowsaw 24In
  • Innovation has been the basis for growth, making Bahco a leading brand of hand tools. Bahco is the flagship of the SNA Europe company.
  • Bowsaw frame developed according to the scientific ERGO process
  • Design for demanding applications and tough environments as construction sites
  • Better and stronger blade fitting for easy and safe blade change

Last update on 2021-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This bowsaw is the most versatile of the three, and yes, the Bahco 10-24-23 bow saw is the most expensive, but not by much. This particular model is 600mm long with a reasonably deep frame, so it’s suitable for cutting logs as well as branches, and trees with a diameter of up to 200mm are felled relatively quickly.

Bahco boasts that the frame is designed using their scientific ERGO process, which is based upon observations of professionals using their tools and modifying the tools to suit. As with many Bahco products, professionals like to use them because they survive the harsh world of the building site. The high-impact enamel paint coating protects it from damage and corrosion, adding to its longevity.

Bahco bow saws usually come with a raker-tooth blade, but the replacement blades aren’t expensive, and they’re quick and easy to change using the quick-release spring clip. They have a snap-on tooth guard to protect your hands while you change the blade and an easy-to-use thumb turn to tension it, essential for straight cutting.  

At 750g, the Bahco is light for its size, but it packs a punch.

ProsCons
Suitable for cutting logs as well as branchesNot so good in tight spaces
Can fell trees up to 200mm diameter 
Quick and safe method of changing blades 
Lightweight yet robust 

2. Gardena Comfort 530 Bow Saw

GARDENA ComFort Bow 530: Light Wood Saw For Working In Confined Spaces, Adjustable Blade Tension, Rust, Blade Length 530 mm (8747-20)
  • Quick set: With the screw the blade tension is fixed in a jiffy
  • Easily replaced: the sheet change takes place quickly and easily, without tools
  • User-friendly handling: The Feinschnittzahnung robust saw ensures comfortable working
  • Ambient Independent use: saw blade and steel bars are corrosion-resistant and thus weatherproof
  • Scope of delivery: 1x GARDENA Comfort Bow 530

Last update on 2021-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

With a 530mm blade, the Gardena Comfort bow saw is shorter and lighter than the Bahco 10-24-23, but the frame’s shape makes it ideal for working in tight spots. When you’re pruning a tree, there is often a branch above the one you’re cutting that you want to keep. The Gardena comfort bow saw allows you to do that.

The blades fitted are raker-toothed, but they can cut through dry wood and green wood. Blade replacement is easy and requires no additional tools, but the screw turn on the handle is not as quick or convenient as the others – you use this to tension the blade as well. The blade guard allows you to replace the blade without damaging your hands, but it’s pretty tricky to put back on once removed.

The pistol grip handle is comfortable to use, and the additional grip on the frame enables you to cut harder and with more accuracy when needed.

The Gardena is heavy for a small bow saw at 770g, but it’s sturdy, robust and resistant to twist.

ProsCons
Suitable for use in tight spotsReplacement blades are expensive
Fine cut teeth for both green and dry woodBlade replacement requires turning a small screw on the handle
The secondary grip on the bow for extra force 

3. Spear & Jackson 3621K/09 Razorsharp Bow Saw

Sale
Spear & Jackson 3621K/09 Razorsharp Bow Saw, 21-inch
  • Hardpoint blade which stays sharp up to 5 times longer than untreated blades
  • Teeth designed for fast and free cutting on forward and backward strokes
  • Lever tension device for simple blade changing
  • Angled frame for cutting in restricted areas
  • 3ppi

Last update on 2021-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

It’s no surprise that this Spear & Jackson bow saw is the cheapest of the three we reviewed. 

There’s no pistol grip handle, just the lever to tension the blade so your hands are unprotected – even more reason to wear gloves with this one.

However, the fact that there is no set handle means you can use any part of the frame to grip the saw, making it more versatile. The tapered structure also makes it suitable for use in restricted spaces.

Changing blades is quick and straightforward; you just flick the lever to release the tension, and the blade pulls off, but a word of caution – the blades don’t have a guard so take extra care when doing this.

The blades are ‘hardpoint’ treated, which means they have induction hardened teeth keeping them sharp five times longer than ordinary teeth. You can’t sharpen these blades, but they’re reasonably cheap to replace.

At just 3 TPI, the teeth on this saw cut fast on the forward and backstrokes. Weighing in at 500g, it’s also the lightest of the three saws we reviewed.

ProsCons
A lever allows quick blade changeNo hand protection or soft-grip handle
Teeth are hardpoint treated, keeping them sharper for longerNo protective guard on the blade
Angled frame cuts better in restricted areas 
Lightweight and easy to use 

Best Bow Saw UK – Comparison Table

ModelLengthBlade ReplacementWeightRRPRating
Bahco 10-24-23600mmSpring clip750g££4.8
Gardena Comfort530mmScrew turn770g££4.7
Spear & Jackson Razorsharp525mmLever500g£4.3

 


Final Thoughts

For general purpose use, the Bahco comes out on top. It’s excellent for felling trees as well as pruning branches and logging. The Gardena is better if you need to get into some tight spaces, but it’s a little heavy for its size, and the replacement blades cost almost as much as the saw.

The Spear & Jackson is a good, lightweight and simple bow saw that wouldn’t let you down, but it lacks in the comfort department. Like the Gardena, the Spear & Jackson gets into the tightest of spaces, which may be a factor when lopping trees.

If you’re unsure how to use a bow saw for cutting logs, this video uploaded by Amdraz should prove helpful.

If you want to see a different technique for using a bow saw to cut firewood, this video shows you a method known as ‘Gypsy sawing’, something I haven’t come across before, but I’ll certainly try it out next winter.