Have you heard of the Armstrong Method? It is what you’re using when you cut metal stock to length with a hacksaw. It’s the method that I’m stuck with because I don’t have room for a 4×6 bandsaw and even if I did I couldn’t justify the cost.
I’ve managed to break at least a couple of inexpensive hacksaw frames. The last time that happened I went to Home Depot and bought the most expensive frame they had even though I almost choked on the price. That frame is much more rigid and durable than the cheapies I’ve owned and is capable of putting far more tension on the blade, which means it won’t twist and bind as much. The handle is also much more comfortable and easier to grip, which helps a lot when you’re trying to cut through a 2.5-inch round of 4140 steel. It is good if your hand doesn’t hurt because then you only have to worry about a tired arm and sweat dripping down your face.
That’s why I think the Starrett Heavy Duty Hacksaw Frame that LittleMachineShop.com has on sale is worth mentioning. It normally costs $35 but right now it is on sale for $17.50, but only through Tuesday, August 4th 2009. I did some searching and that seems to be a very good price. They also have Starrett hacksaw blades on sale.
Good blades are essential no matter what kind of frame you use them with. I suggest you buy the best blades you can from manufacturers who are known for making quality blades, unless of course you are deliberately trying to build up the muscles in just one of your arms. I started using Starrett blades a couple of years ago and highly recommend them. Before that I was pretty happy with the Lenox blades you can get at many hardware stores.
Did you know that there are carbon, high speed steel and bi-metal hacksaw blades? Carbon blades are very inexpensive, flexible and dull quickly. HSS blades are the most expensive but they stay sharp longer and cut faster. They are also more brittle and will break if you don’t keep the blade straight when you are cutting. Bi-metal blades are a good compromise. The cutting edge is HSS welded to a carbon back for flexibility.
Disclaimer: I have no relationship with Littlemachineshop.com other than occasionally buying stuff from them and that I think they are a pretty good company to do business with.