Today I’m going to share everything I know about folding saws. Because I believe there are five cutting tools EVERYONE should own:
- 1 Survival Knife
- 2 Survival Hatchet
- 3 Survival Machete
- 4 Survival Ax
- 5 Folding Saw
Many people only focus on the knives and hatchets. (Perhaps because they’re weapons as well as tools). But they’re limiting themselves by ignoring the power of the folding saw.
It’s a simple, lightweight tool that pays for itself many times over in camp and at home.
So today I’m going to share the following folding saw topics to help YOU find the best folding saws for YOU, specifically:
- What Is A Folding Saw Anyway?
- Why You Should Invest In A Folding Saw
- Key Features To Look For In A Quality Folding Saw
- 10 Best Folding Saws On The Market Today
- How To Sharpen A Folding Saw
**Note: If you just want our top recommendations, feel free to SKIP AHEAD HERE.
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WHAT IS A FOLDING SAW ANYWAY?
A folding saw “is” as simple as it sounds.
It’s a portable saw with a blade that folds up when not in use for safety, ease of transport, and to protect the saw teeth.
While the basic idea is simple, there are many different folding saw designs.
The most common is a saw with a blade the folds back into the handle like a giant folding pocketknife. This design is easy to produce, reliable, and simple to use. Plus, it adapts for both large and small folding saw sizes and shapes.
But, there are many different variations to the basic design. There are ones aimed at everything from general use to specific situations.
- For example, there are super lightweight backpacking models focused on weight reduction.
- Or there are fine-toothed folding pruning saw perfect for clean cuts on live trees.
- Or how about aggressive survival saws made to rip through firewood like butter.
The bottom line is:
There’s a folding saw for nearly every use.
Heck, some saws even feature interchangeable blades with different tooth patterns. These interchangeable blades allow you to adapt to the situation at hand.
And yes, there are even ice saws just for cutting blocks of snow.
Sure, it would be terrible for cutting wood. But it makes for quick work for avalanche danger testing, and snow shelter builds!
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WHY DO YOU SHOULD INVEST IN A FOLDING SAW
I bought my first folding saw when I was in the Boy Scouts. I got it at a specialty camp store and carried it everywhere I went that summer.
It’s often the first cutting tool scouts carry, before even a dull pocket knife. And maybe that’s why I assumed it was a beginner’s tool for so long.
Instead, as an adult, favoring the hatchet or ax, which were more exciting tools for splitting wood.
That’s why, for many years, I skipped carrying a folding camp saw on my outdoor adventures.
I made the assumption I could do most of the same work with an ax or hatchet. Heck, in a pinch, I’ve even tried to use a multi-tool or a serrated survival knife as an impromptu saw.
And while I made it work (most of the time), it was never as efficient as using a quality folding saw.
Finally, a few years ago, I rediscovered my original folding camp saw in the garage at my parent’s house.
It was an exciting find, so I spent time restoring it. I started by cleaning and refinishing the wooden handle. Then I polished away surface rust on the blade. Lastly, I resharpen all the teeth. Now, it cuts firewood far better (and weighs less) than my expensive lightweight backpacking hatchet.
Over the past year, I’ve carried my folding saw on most camping trips. And I’ve also taken it backpacking, canoeing, and car camping as well.
Now, I remember why I was so excited to buy it all those years ago!
It’s proven itself as the most efficient tool for many camp chores, such as:
- Clearing brush
- Felling downed trees
- Processing firewood
- Survival shelter construction
It’s now such a go-to tool that I can’t believe I ever left it at home!
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KEY FEATURES TO LOOK FOR IN A QUALITY FOLDING SAW
There are thousands of folding saws on the market, so choosing a new folding saw isn’t an easy task.
So many choices can cause analysis paralysis – a situation where it’s hard to settle on the right one for YOU. And with each saw designed for specific uses, it’s hard to know which will work for you.
But that’s why I put this list of best folding hand saws together. But first, here are a few key features look for when narrowing down your list of the best folding saws for you.
Folding camp saws should be compact and easy to carry, so weight is an essential factor. But folding saw weight is a double-edged sword. It’s a matter of finding the right balance, the sweet spot.
When pruning trees or clearing brush, it’s often best to have a lightweight saw. That way, you can operate one-handed, leaving your other hand free to manage branches.
And if you’re working overhead, you want a lightweight saw that won’t leave your arms tired.
But, a saw that’s too light will feel difficult to control and less precise than a saw with a little more heft.
Besides, a lightweight saw often uses a thinner blade. These thin blades can produce faster cuts, but at the expense of a more flexible blade, one that’s easier to bend.
There are many different folding saw types on the market. And most have different intended uses.
A pruning saw makes clean cuts, but it’s slow to cut thicker logs.
A backpacking folding saw is super lightweight. But it’s meant for cutting the smallest firewood for small backcountry campfires. NOT for processing large stacks of traditional campfire wood.
So be sure to understand how you “might” use your saw and buy a saw that makes those tasks the most efficient.
If you’re going to use it in lots of different scenarios, consider a well-built “general use” folding saw.
The design of a saw’s blade is crucial to determine the capabilities of a saw.
And there are several parts of the blade design, such as blade shape, tooth shape, tooth count, etc.
So let’s go over each…
A pruning saw (the most common type of folding saw) generally has a blade with a concave cutting edge. This shape helps keep the saw in constant contact with the generally round profile of a branch.
By contrast, a metal or drywall folding hand saw will have a straight profile to work best on the edge of a workpiece.
Finally, there are some folding carpentry saws with a convex blade shape.
This blade shape allows them to cut into flat surfaces, like the middle of a sheet of plywood.
Beware, the shape of each tooth also helps determine how a saw will behave.
Teeth with a curved profile will be much more aggressive. They will dig into the surface fast, but require a lot more force per stroke.
The pyramidal teeth of an arborist saw shaves away from the sides of the cut, leaving a clean surface.
NOTE: you can tune plain, triangular teeth to cut in many ways, depending on which edge of the tooth is sharp.
The spacing of the saw teeth, measure in teeth per inch (TPI) is directly related to how smooth – and how fast – the saw cuts.
A blade with a low TPI count is generally more aggressive. It has larger teeth and larger spaces between the teeth (gullets) to clear lots of wood shavings in a hurry.
This setup is excellent in a saw for firewood processing. But it will leave a ragged cut if you try to prune trees in your yard.
A blade with a high TPI count will cut very cleanly without lots of splintering and tearing. But it will do so much more slowly.
Small gullets clog easily with fine shavings. And cutting alternative materials (such as plastics or soft metals) require frequent cleaning.
Tooth Set (Kerf Width)
The kerf of a saw is the width of the track it cuts through a material.
Most saw teeth are bent slightly outwards to cut a path just a little wider than the blade.
This blade design helps prevent binding and makes the saw more comfortable to use.
A saw with a wide kerf will be much less likely to bind, but it cuts a lot more material per inch of cut depth.
Push vs. Pull:
Some saw blades have teeth that can cut as you push the saw away from your body, others cut as you pull towards yourself.
Pruning saws feature triangular teeth that cut on both strokes. This setup allows for a fine-tooth saw that cuts more quickly than it otherwise would.
In general, saws that cut on the pull stroke are a little easier to control and are becoming more common.
There are a few notable safety features to look for in a quality folding saw.
The most significant risk with a folding saw is also its primary feature – the folding mechanism.
With most folding saws, your hand position when using the saw is in the path of the blade folding mechanism!
So you need to be sure that the blade can’t accidentally fold closed on your hand while in use. This accident could result in severe injuries or even finger loss!
Watch: How Safely Use A Folding Saw
That’s why a safe folding saw will lock the blade into an open position while in use.
Heck, some saws feature a dual lock.
This feature means the blade locks in both the open and closed positions. This double lock setup helps to ensure there’s zero chance it will open unexpectedly.
The blade design determines function, but the blade quality matters as well. Particularly the steel has a direct impact on safety, especially in saws that cut on the push stroke.
An inferior blade can snap if it binds in the cut. This result could leave you pushing your hand forward into a broken fragment of metal.
A better quality blade may still bind depending on the cut, but it won’t snap.
As with any tool, quality matters, so look for manufacturers that stand behind their product with a lifetime warranty.
It proves they’re more confident in their product quality by using the best materials.
If you buy a saw with a lifetime warranty, be sure to register it. That way, you can get your money back, or a replacement saw if you have any issues.
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10 BEST FOLDING SAWS ON THE MARKET TODAY
1 – Corona RazorTOOTH Folding Saw
My wife is a city arborist and prunes dozens of trees a day in city parks and streets – and she swears by her Corona Saws.
The Corona RazorTOOTH is a large pruning saw with pyramidal teeth that cut on both strokes.
It’s a very comfortable saw, with good reach and an ergonomic handle.
The blade locks in both open and closed position, making it safer for both use and transport.
The blade is chrome plated and hardened but does need cleaning and a light coat of oil to prevent corrosion.
With a 10″ blade, it’s perfect for limbs up to about 6″, anything bigger and you should consider a chainsaw instead.
The Corona Saw is efficient, reliable, and safe. Why? Because it’s primary clients are pro arborists – folks who use pruning saws daily.
- High-quality materials and build.
- Replaceable blades are available.
- Ergonomic handle for comfort.
- Clean, efficient cuts
- Thinner blades may bend if used improperly
2 – Bahco 396-JT Folding Saw
Another high-quality pruning saw is the Bahco 396-JT. It’s a favorite of my mountain bike trail-builders group.
That’s because it’s lightweight and compact. And it stands up to harsh mountain trail use and abuse.
It also stands up to the abuse of pruning roots and branches. But it can build wooden cribbing to hold back switchbacks.
And it can take a beating from rambling about in a backpack all day with other tools.
The non-stick blade coating helps with the ever-present sticky sap and dirt.
Plus, the replaceable blades are easy to swap. And necessary when someone accidentally bends one in the field – or drags the teeth across a hidden rock.
- Solid blade lock in both open and closed positions
- Easy blade replacement
- Low friction and sap-resistant blade coating
- Smaller blade length limits limb size
- Dark color hard to find if dropped in brush
3 – Silky Professional BIGBOY 2000 Folding Saw
Silky is another highly-regarded brand of folding saws. Arborists and professionals agree that the BIGBOY 2000 lives up to the name!
It features a monster 14.2″ blade for the biggest pruning jobs. The blade isn’t overly curved, making it efficient for cutting up to 8-9″ limbs and small trunks.
The blade is replaceable and comes in 4 different blade styles, denoted by handle color. But, they’re all interchangeable.
So you can either mix and match blades on one handle. Or keep with the color-coding to make it easy to identify which saw you’re grabbing.
Finally, it’s incredibly lightweight for the size, at just over 1 lb!
- Durable, high-quality build
- Well-balanced feel in the hand
- Extremely lightweight. Longer blade than most similar saws
- 16″ closed length can be harder to pack.
4- Felco F 600 Folding Saw
The Felco F600 is my favorite small saw for overhead work due to its low weight, grippy handle, and compact size.
The 6.3″ version of the saw is perfect for pruning fruit trees and other yard work. It also helps in deer camps when you need to prune out some shot trails.
It’s quick and productive without much fuss. The blade and tooth shape release sawdust easily to make sawing easy work.
- Very lightweight
- Non-slip handle design
- The small design might not fit large hands
5 – Fiskars 7″ PowerTooth Folding Saw
Fiskars is a common name in all kinds of cutting tools – I grew up using their orange handled scissors and hatchets.
The 7″ PowerTooth pruning saw is another excellent tool. It’s lightweight and has a solid non-slip grip to support the locking blade.
The hardened blade has triple-ground teeth (three cutting surfaces per tooth). This design makes for quick work of small to medium limbs and firewood.
Unfortunately, a sharpening saw isn’t available for the tooth profile. So it may be difficult (or nearly impossible) for a beginner to sharpen at home.
On one last note, the plastic handle can be a weak point, so be sure to use the tool appropriately to avoid breakage.
- Very lightweight
- Fast cutting
- The handle is weak and prone to breaking
- Narrow kerf causes binding
6 – Gerber Freescape Camp Saw
The Gerber Freescape Camp Saw is not a traditional saw – it’s a folding bow saw.
This compact and lightweight saw folds down flat without removal of parts and accepts standard 12″ saw blade.
Plus, it comes with a rubber over-mold grip which will prevent you from accidental slips.
- Interchangeable blades
- Folds down compact for backpacking trips
- Due to the design, you cannot cut thicker logs
7 – Silky POCKETBOY 340-13 Folding Saw
The Silky POCKETBOY is a great fine-tooth saw, with 8.5TPI of impulse-hardened steel.
The 5″ blade locks in place with a mechanism at two different cutting positions, as well as closed.
It’s built of the highest quality materials, as all Silky saws are.
The teeth have no set, so the kerf is very narrow. So be very careful to avoid binding, and enjoy the rewards of clean, even cuts.
- Great for pruning small limbs
- Comes with carrying case
- Fine tooth blade gives clean cuts
- Small size may not fit large hands
- Won’t cut large branches
8 – Primos Gear Folding Trail Saw
Most folding saws on the market are for landscapers and arborists. But, plenty of people are looking for a saw to use in backcountry hunting and fishing trips.
Primos Gear is a well-known brand of hunting gear with an excellent reputation.
This small folding saw features offset triangular teeth with an aggressive set. Thes triangular teeth allow it to cut quickly and efficiently through camp chores and firewood.
The push-button lock keeps the blade secure. And the dark colors help keep you camouflaged while you hunt.
Be sure to get a matching file to sharpen the blade and tune it up before you take it out the first time.
- Compact design
- Muted colors
- Carrying case included
- Not sharp out of the box
9 – Coghlan Folding Bow Saw
There are plenty of folding saws shaped like an oversized pocketknife. Instead, the Coghlan folding saw is a collapsible bow saw!
Bow saws are great for cutting firewood. Plus, they’re far less prone to breakage during binding than other saws. That’s because the blade is under tension instead of compression.
The Coghlan is super lightweight and easy to handle and can cut much larger logs than any other folding saw.
The only drawback is that you can’t sharpen the blades at home, but they ARE very cheap to replace outright.
You can use just about ANY 21″ bow saw blade with the Coghlan. This feature means you can swap out for a fresh blade when needed or adapt to your cutting needs.
- Super lightweight
- Easy to replace blades
- Handle carries multiple replacement blades
- Blades are a challenge to sharpen
10 – Silky KATANABOY Professional 500mm Folding Saw
The Silky KATANABOY folding saw doesn’t fit the general model of “a saw you can pack in your pocket.” But it’s still worth mentioning. Why? Because maybe YOU’RE looking for the BIGGEST folding saw you’ve ever seen.
It’s a two-handed saw made with a 19.7″ blade and an incredible amount of reach!
Rather than a belt sheath, it comes with a shoulder bag!
If you’re looking for a big saw for areas where you can’t use a chainsaw, this is your choice.
- Huge reach
- Exceptional quality materials and build
- Able to cut large branches
- Big and bulky to carry
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HOW TO SHARPEN A FOLDING SAW
Sharpening a folding saw is the best way to ensure that it cuts cleanly and with as little effort as possible.
It’s also a safety issue since a sharp blade will cut with much less force and be more comfortable to control.
There are several steps to sharpening a folding saw blade. And the good news is they’re all relatively simple and easy to perform.
So it’s worth learning how to do it right. Because if you know how to properly sharpening will keep your saw working smoothly for years.
You’ll need a small diamond or triangle saw-file that that fits the shape of your saw teeth.
Check with the manufacturer or head to a local home and garden shop to find the right size.
The general steps are:
- Disassemble your saw and remove the blade.
- Clean the blade of any dirt, sawdust, and tree sap. You can use a stiff wire brush with some soapy water for most of it. But a solvent like kerosene or isopropyl alcohol will help with stubborn sap stains. Be sure to clean out the gullets between the saw teeth.
- Working down the blade, file each tooth, and keep track of how many strokes you use on each tooth. You’ll need to do more work on a very dull saw than on one you tune regularly.
- Next, check that all the teeth are the same length. As you sharpen your saw, any that are left long will be doing most of the work. Thus, preventing the neighbor teeth from engaging with the surface.
- Check for bent teeth. Many saws are intentionally bent slightly outward to increase the kerf width. However, use and poor handling can bend them further out of line and make them hard to maintain. If any teeth stick too far outside the normal, you’ll want to bend them back in line with the rest.
This video details the sharpening process for a Silky pruning saw. But you can find similar info for most common folding saw makes and models.
Paying attention to the form and body mechanics helps with ensuring a good result.
While you’ve likely been using a knife and ax for years, it’s time to reconsider carrying a folding saw as well.
They’ve come a long way, and the saws on the market now make an excellent tool for everyone.
They allow you an efficient way to prune trees or butchering game.
There’s a wide range of quality in folding saws, and you get what you pay for, as usual.
Be sure to buy from a reputable brand. Look for a lifetime warranty.
That way, you can take up any issues with the manufacturer rather than depend on a store warranty.
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