4 Safety Tips When Working with a Hacksaw

A man uses a hacksaw.

Power hacksaws are invaluable when cutting through hard or thick pieces of metal which are too substantial to cut by hand. However, as with all power tools, extra care should be taken to avoid any accidents. Observe the following safety tips and you will get the job done quickly and without incident.

1. Blades

Consider the type of blade to be used. Depending on the material to be cut, the blade should be changed accordingly. Power hacksaw blades are available with varying tooth counts. A higher tooth count means the blade is actually finer. Softer materials will require a blade with a lower tooth count, whereas harder materials require a finer blade. Choosing the wrong blade could result in it snapping and shattering.

2. Personal Safety

Never attempt to use a power hacksaw until you have prepared yourself adequately for the task. Make sure that long or loose hair is tied back or covered securely. All kinds of jewelry should be removed to help eliminate the risk of snagging. Protective clothing such as overalls or aprons should be worn to prevent loose clothing from being caught in the blade. Protect your ears with adequate hearing protection such as plugs or mufflers. Also, protect your eyesight with safety glasses. Because metals can be heavy, always wear steel-toe-capped boots.

3. Precautions to Take Before Cutting

Whether you are cutting pipe, sheet metal, or blocks, always make sure the material to be cut is securely fastened into clamps or a vice. Never attempt to secure materials by hand.

Constant motion causes power hacksaw blades to overheat, making them brittle and prone to breaking so make sure adequate coolant is being supplied to the blade. Before switching on a power hacksaw, check that the machinery is in good working order. If you do discover any faults, don’t switch on the power until they have been rectified.

Be aware of where the emergency stop buttons are located; most machines should have a foot switch and you should always be ready to use it. Always be ready to turn the machine off by making a mental plan of action before starting.

At least three teeth must be in contact with the workpiece at any time or the blade will snag. This will eventually damage the teeth and flying shards can be extremely hazardous.

4. Precautions While Cutting

When in use, stay well away from the blade and any other moving parts. Never attempt to remove cuttings or adjust the material while the blade is in action. If there is an obvious problem, turn off the machine and wait until it has stopped before attempting to adjust it. Should the blade break, don’t attempt to replace it until the machine has been switched off and come to a halt.

Be aware of the safety of others; don’t allow anyone to stand in front of the power hacksaw when cutting and make sure that oversized materials are adequately highlighted. Never leave the power hacksaw unattended whilst cutting. Ignore distractions whilst cutting. If a situation arises which demands your attention, turn the power off before responding. Ensure the machine is switched off after use and remove loose cuttings. Never use a power hacksaw to cut anything other than metal and never cut small objects.