Best Folding Saw of 2020
The Corona RS 7245 Razor Tooth Folding Saw is a compact, aggressive, and fast saw. It features a simple locking mechanism that secures the sharp blade both while sawing and while stowed away. Smartly, the locking mechanism is located far enough away from your hand that it's unlikely that you'll accidentally depress it while sawing. The co-molded, bi-colored handle is very ergonomic and practically grabs your hand with a soft rubber grip. This attractive handle also has a large triangular-shaped hole to attach a lanyard to. The razor-sharp curved blade is super aggressive, with a 7" 65Mn spring-steel blade with a triple ground tooth pattern for penetrating tough bone and wood. It was the fastest saw we tested, sawing through a 4 ½" diameter log in a mere 24 seconds. Rest assured, the aggressive blade and ergonomic handle also reduced sawing fatigue notably. In fact, it was the most fun to saw with, and we didn't even want to set it down.
Whether you are cutting firewood or trimming branches, the Corona will make quick work of your task at hand. It comes in either 7", 8", or 10" blade lengths, for cutting 3", 4", or 5-6" diameter branches respectively. The curved blade might be too aggressive for cutting smaller branches and is designed to cut with a pulling motion. Other than that, the Corona cuts fast, is as sharp as it looks, and exceeded our expectations.
The Rexbeti Folding Saw comes with an SK-5 steel blade with staggered, triple cut teeth, a long rubber handle, and a lifetime warranty. As one of the least expensive saws in our review, it still performed very well, cutting through a 4 ½" diameter log in 1 minute, 4 seconds. And with an 11" long blade, this saw will tear right through 6"-7" diameter branches. The bright orange locking mechanism is easy to differentiate from the black handle grip, preventing unwanted folding or unfolding. For cutting larger diameter logs, the Rexbeti performs well and won't cost you an arm and a leg, as long as you're careful while sawing.
With a longer blade comes less rigidity, which we noticed while testing the Rexbeti. Compared to the Sven Saw and the Coghlan's, which both have a triangular frame to support the blade, the Rexbeti's blade doesn't quite have the stiffness it needs for bigger logs. That being said, it is rigid enough to make the cut, so long as you focus on starting your cuts straight and plumb. Due to its larger size and weight, it might not be the best saw to take on overnight backpacking trips, but it would suit your needs quite well for car camping and yard work.
The Opinel Folding Saw has a simple, elegant design and was one of the highest quality saws we tested. Weighing in at under 4 ounces, this lightweight saw comes with an attractive and ergonomic French beechwood handle. The carbon steel blade comes in either a 5" or 7" length, designed to cut 3.15" or 4" diameter branches. The Virobloc safety ring designed by Marcel Opinel in 1955 locks the blade in both the sawing and folded positions. You might be pleasantly surprised at how quickly this small saw slices through wood; at 20 seconds per 2 ½" diameter branch, you'll have a fire going quickly.
Although it is a bit pricey for such a small saw, we were impressed by the high quality of the Opinel. The blade's length somewhat limits its use, so it might not be the best choice if you're looking to cut larger diameter pieces of wood. However, if you're looking for a lightweight, compact saw to take on a backpacking or hunting trip or to do some simple yard work around the house, look no further.
The Sven Saw has been made in the U.S. for almost 60 years and is outfitted with a super sharp blade made of Swedish steel. Once assembled, this was the fastest triangular frame saw, cutting through a 4 ½" diameter log in just 35 seconds. It is also pretty lightweight, coming in at under 14 ounces for the 21" saw (also available in 15"). The hardened, anodized aluminum handle and back bar folds into a flat rod shape, which slides nicely into the side of your backpack. The handle protrudes below the sharp blade, allowing you to saw efficiently using both hands. With a triangular geometry, the frame is quite rigid, and a wingnut allows you to tighten the blade to your preferred tension.
Compared to the Coghlan's, the assembly process for the Sven is time-consuming and a bit awkward. The back bar and blade unfold and insert into the handle but have to be simultaneously lined up correctly, a task that would be much easier to accomplish if you had a third hand. Then, you tighten the blade with a wingnut, which you hopefully didn't lose in the snow-covered forest. But if you did, you're still good to go since the Sven Saw comes with a spare wingnut. Luckily, the time lost in assembly is probably saved in cutting, which is a pure delight with the Sven Saw. You might really like this saw if you're looking to make lots of cuts and want a rigid saw that reduces fatigue over time.
The Wicked Tough Hand Saw definitely lives up to its name. This burly saw comes with a Wicked high carbon steel blade, which has a heavy gauge that resists bending and breaking. Its rugged cast aluminum handle is wrapped in a rubber grip with indentations for fingers, making it ergonomic and high friction. Surprisingly, its cutting time was on the slower side, at 1 minute, 16 seconds to saw through a 4 ½" diameter log. Compared to the Corona and the Silky Pocketboy, it took twice as long to saw through the same diameter branch.
Sometimes we get what we pay for. The Wicked is a bit more pricey than the Corona and the Silky Pocketboy, but its construction is also a bit beefier. It also comes with a scabbard that is pretty darn tough for tree work when you want your saw securely stored but easy to access. Unfortunately, the saw and the scabbard are somewhat heavy, so this combo pack probably isn't the ticket if you're looking for a lightweight hand saw. However, if you like burly gear that you can beat up, and weight isn't a concern, this saw was the toughest of them all.
The Coghlan's Folding Saw has an anodized aluminum frame with riveted plastic hinges and a folding plastic handle. It is also outfitted with a very nice Danish crafted wood cutting blade. It assembles easily into a triangular-shaped frame using tension. You will find it much quicker and simpler to put together than the Sven Saw.
While the Coghlan's is a good triangular frame saw, its plastic hinge construction under tension is not the strongest design. However, we did not experience any failure of the plastic during our testing. With a cutting time of 1 minute, 13 seconds, the Coghlan's also took quite a bit longer than the 35 seconds it took the Sven Saw to cut through a 4 ½" diameter log. For someone looking to spend a little bit less money who wants a triangular frame saw that is a breeze to fold and unfold, the Coghlan's might be the ticket.
The Silky PocketBoy comes with a rust-resistant, hard-chrome plated Japanese blade that cuts very smoothly. While the Corona sliced through a 4 ½" diameter log more quickly in a mere 24 seconds, the Silky PocketBoy had a smoother feel to it and still had a speedy time of 31 seconds, even with a broken tip. You will find that the Silky folds to a fairly compact size and has a clear case with a metal clip that can be attached to your belt. The clip can be slid onto a belt for quick storage, or the belt can be threaded through the clip for longer time frames to prevent dropping the saw.
During our testing, the blade of the Silky broke while sawing after the tip momentarily caught, bending the blade and snapping 3/4" from its tip. We were still able to cut a log quickly, even with the broken tip, but a bent blade is simply no fun to saw with. While the locking mechanism is simple to use, if you were to extend your thumb while sawing, you could accidentally depress the locking mechanism, thereby unlocking the saw. This is because the handle is somewhat short. Compared to the handle of the Corona, the Silky's isn't quite as ergonomic, and we found ourselves over gripping a bit while we were sawing. One cool feature of the locking mechanism is that it has two positions, allowing the saw to be used in a slightly different orientation to saw in hard to get places, or simply to achieve a different angle while sawing. When folding the blade back into the handle, the blade has to be centered; otherwise, it tends to hit the rubber grip. You could imagine this damaging the soft grip over time if one is not diligent enough while folding the blade in. While we discovered during our testing that the blade we were using wasn't durable enough when it broke, the Silky Pocketboy is a good saw with very smooth cutting action.
The Sportsman Industries 36-inch Pocket Chainsaw comes with a high carbon steel chain that can be re-sharpened with a round chainsaw file. The rugged handle is cross-stitched, and the pocket chainsaw can be stored in its heavy-duty nylon storage pouch and attached to your belt buckle loop. It can also be used to cut limbs high up in a tree by attaching a rope to the handles. For survivalists, this pocket chainsaw comes with a firestarter kit that includes a scraper and flint. Simply scrape magnesium from the flint into a pile of lint (from your dryer at home) and then strike the edge of the scraper on the flint to create a spark, lighting the lint on fire. Then use the branches you cut with your pocket chainsaw to grow your fire and build a shelter, and you'll have a bit of protection from the elements if you get lost overnight in the woods.
The idea of a pocket chainsaw is good for survival purposes, but when cutting limbs out of reach and cutting larger diameter logs, they are very strenuous to use, and making cuts is time-consuming. We tested the Sportsman Industries 36-inch Pocket Chainsaw multiple times, and it was a serious workout. Sawing through a 5" diameter log took 2 minutes, 59 seconds, much longer than other hand saws in this review. We also experienced some lower back strain from the awkward upward sawing motion while cutting a log on the forest floor. You might also find that the chain gets kinked very easily, and you'll spend some time undoing those kinks when you pull the pocket chainsaw out of its storage pouch. However, if you're looking for a workout while cutting wood and you want a compact saw that comes with a firestarter kit, check out the Sportsman Industries Pocket Chainsaw.
Why You Should Trust Us
Brian Smith, our primary tester on this project, is a professional internationally certified IFMGA/UIAGM mountain guide. He is also a long-time carpenter and an avid wood stove user. For over twenty years, Brian has used gas-powered chainsaws, electric chainsaws, mauls, hatchets, skill saws, table saws, and of course, hand saws. When he isn't guiding in the mountains, Brian spends a lot of time cutting his own firewood for the long winters in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, so he can keep his wood-burning stove nice and warm. And with over twenty years of carpentry experience, Brian has sawed through several different types of wood using various tools. He knows wood, and he knows which tool to use to get the job done right.
After researching over 40 different folding saws, we carefully selected 10 of them to review. We then purchased each one and shipped them to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where there are plenty of beetle-killed trees to test saws on. Throughout the entire testing period, we compared and assessed for quality and durability, handle construction/ergonomics, blade sharpness and strength, sawing performance, and packability/features. Each metric was assessed individually, all products were compared to each other, and every metric was noted during actual use. Saws were timed on the same sized logs when possible (which depended on the length of the saw blade), with sufficient rest in between timed sawing. Scores were compiled, and we combined subjective and objective assessments to yield our proven and authoritative conclusions. During all of these tests, we kept your primary objective in mind: to find the best folding saw to suit your needs.
Analysis and Test Results
To help you find the best folding saw for your performance needs and budget, we subjected each product to assembly and disassembly analysis, multiple log cuttings, and timed cuttings. Below we'll delve into the criteria that we rated them on and explain how all the different models compared to one another.
Quality and Durability
Have you heard of the saying, "It's the rider, not the bike?" Well, we hate to break it to you, but the bike makes a big difference these days (especially in the Tour de France). The same goes for saws. Like a bicycle, the quality of the materials and construction play into the durability (and, therefore, the longevity) of the saws we tested. So, we researched the composition of the saw blades and handles, inspected the hinge points, and sawed like mad to help you find a top-notch product.
The top two scorers in this metric earned their high rankings. The Opinel is a beautiful saw whose high quality is immediately apparent, while the Wicked Tough Hand Saw touts the burliest construction in our review. The Opinel's attractive French Beachwood handle has a slight ergonomic curve, its high-quality locking mechanism is made out of stainless steel, and its blade is carbon steel with an anti-corrosion coating.
The Wicked also reveals its quality with more of an emphasis on durability. Its high carbon steel blade is taper ground, with a heavy gauge that resists bending and breaking. The aluminum handle is wrapped in a sticky rubber over-mold grip, and the pivot point is strong with its hardened steel lock-pin. With no plastic parts to break, we found this saw to be "wicked" durable.
While this metric overlaps somewhat with our Quality and Durability metric, it's worth sharing our detailed inspection methods and findings with you. We found that the shape and friction of a saw's handle significantly affected our fatigue level over time while cutting wood. A saw with the right sized handle, curvature, and even indentations for your fingers plays a huge role in allowing you to have fun cutting wood for longer periods of time. That means more wood to stoke your fire with, without your forearms feeling like they're on fire too.
The Wicked Tough Hand Saw has the best ergonomic handle that we tested. While the handle's construction is burly, its true advantage is an over-mold rubber grip that is super sticky with indentations for your fingers that allow you to loosen your grip while sawing, thus reducing fatigue. The concept of "barely holding on" is a familiar one to rock and ice climbers, allowing them to "send" climbs they never thought were even possible by conserving energy without over gripping. This concept was beneficial while we tested saws and analyzed handle ergonomics. Even if you're not a climber, you will find that it conserves your strength and energy to use a hand saw with well-designed ergonomics like the Wicked.
With a different handle design that still dominated the ergonomics metric, the Corona Hand Saw has a co-molded, bi-colored handle that is very easy to hold. The defining feature of the Corona's handle is a sharp curve at its base that prevents your hand from slipping. Very similar to the hook on a vertical ice climbing tool, the hook on the Corona allows you to open your grip slightly or hold on a bit loosely to minimize the pump in your forearm while sawing away. The bi-colored black and red rubber handle is designed to match the location of your fingers, with the softer black rubber providing more friction for your fingers to grab onto. Simply hang on loosely and have fun as you watch the aggressive blade of the Corona rip through one log after another.
Blade Sharpness and Strength
Let's get down to business and delve into blade metrics. After all, the finer points of a saw's blade are what puts them a cut above the rest. Simply put, from a subjective perspective, the Sven Saw and the Corona Razor Tooth Saw felt the sharpest while cutting, looked the sharpest, and of course, they both have big teeth.
The Sven Saw really shines with a long, very sharp blade that can be tightened to your liking. Manufactured in Sweden, this 21-inch long steel blade tears through wood. Its teeth are slightly larger than on the Coghlan's, which might explain why it cut faster. A pretty sweet combination that we discovered was to use the Sven Saw for larger cuts and then swap to the Corona for making quick work of smaller diameter logs.
What differentiates the Corona from the Sven is the curvature of the Corona's blade. Let's just consider log geometry for a minute. They're round, so a curved blade arguably has more surface area while cutting through a round piece of wood, right? Well, it's just theoretical, but the curved geometry of the Corona's blade could be the reason it was the fastest timed saw in our testing. The Corona's self-cleaning chrome blade is both corrosion-resistant and replaceable for longer life. Additionally, the razor teeth are three-sided for increased efficiency and impulse-hardened for exceptional durability and strength. So if speed is your game, take a look at the Corona's blade.
To test sawing performance with as much objectivity as possible, we timed our cuts for every single saw. However, we quickly realized that the saw blade's length would affect its performance, so we are providing you with four of our top performers in this metric, along with their recommended cutting diameters. Our best advice for you is to start by deciding what the average-sized wood is that you will cut before purchasing a saw. Then, look up the specifications for available blade lengths and the corresponding log diameters that the blade is designed for. Keep in mind that many manufacturers have multiple blade lengths available in the same model saw.
For smaller diameter branches, the Opinel's 5" blade (recommended for 3.15" diameter logs) performed amazingly well on a 2½" diameter log with a cut time of only 20 seconds. It also seemed to cut pretty darn well on a 5" diameter log. The Opinel also comes in a 7" blade for 4" diameter logs.
For medium diameter logs, the Corona easily won the race. The best part? Even though the 7" Corona blade was designed to cut limbs to 3" in diameter, we actually tested it on a 4½" diameter log, and it still outperformed every single other saw, with a blistering time of 24 seconds. The Corona comes in 7", 8", and 10" blade lengths.
Okay, so we broke the tip of the Silky while testing it. Guess what, though? It still performed really well, with a time of just 31 seconds to slide smoothly through a 4½" diameter log, even with the broken tip. What it lacked in durability during our testing, it sure made up for with smooth cutting action.
For larger diameter logs, up to about 9" in diameter, the Sven Saw with a 21" blade (also available in a 15" blade) was our top performer. In just 35 seconds, it sliced through a 4½" diameter log. What you might really like about the Sven Saw is that the triangular frame has a protruding handle below the triangular frame so that you can saw with both hands. Its frame is also a bit larger than that of the Coghlan's, so logs don't bump into the inside of the frame as easily while cutting deeper into the wood. Keep in mind that the Sven Saw has been in production for almost 60 years, so they must be doing something right.
There are many activities you might want a folding saw for. Cutting firewood, pruning trees and bushes in your yard, backpacking, hunting, kayaking, rafting, canoeing, car camping, four wheeling, trail work, etc. No doubt, they're very handy. Depending on what you'll be using one for and what method of travel you'll be embarking on, a saw's weight, size, and carrying method will be important during your purchasing process. Since all of the saws we tested scored pretty high in this category, we will describe some various benefits for different sized models to assist you in picking the right tool for your adventure.
Okay, ounce counters and uber lightweight gurus: the lightest saw in our test was the Opinel at a lean 4 oz. It is also very compact. If weight is critical, and the limbs you're planning on cutting are on the smaller side (recommended to 3.15" to be exact), this saw might be the perfect fit for you. It even has a small round hole to thread a lanyard (not included) through if you want to attach it to your pack or yourself.
If the Opinel is too small for your liking, the next best bet is the Silky, which weighs in at just 7 oz. It comes with a clear plastic case that you can slip the saw into while carrying it on your belt or pack. And if the plastic case is too bulky or heavy for you, the Silky also has a round metal hole where you can attach a piece of cord.
Looking to cut larger diameter logs? How about a saw that weighs only 5 oz. and fits into a pouch smaller than your hand? The Sportsman Industries 36" Pocket Chainsaw is definitely lightweight and compact. While it will give you a serious upper body workout, maybe some adventure and exercise are just what you're looking for. Plus, if you need to build a fire and didn't bring a lighter, it also comes with a firestarter kit that includes a scraper and flint.
Finally, if a triangular saw is alluring to you, the Coghlan's folds into a somewhat straight bar configuration that can easily be slid into the side of your pack. While the Sven Saw does the same and is an ounce lighter, the Coghlan's is much quicker and easier to stow away. But if you're deep in the backcountry and durability is a priority, keep in mind that the Coghlan's has some plastic parts, while the Sven Saw is made entirely out of metal. If you don't mind a larger, somewhat straight saw in your pack, one of these triangular saws might be the right choice for you.
We've conducted an in-depth comparison of the best folding saws on the market to assist you in filtering through the seemingly endless options available. We purchased and used each one and had a team of testers consult on our findings. We bring extremely diligent attention to detail in all our product comparisons. Finding the right saw can be critical to cutting efficiently and with ease, and using the one that's right for you might just put a grin on your face.
— Brian Smith