Introduction: Cut Nails or Screws With a Woodworking Hand Saw

Picture of Cut Nails or Screws With a Woodworking Hand Saw

Imagine a situation:

You are working on your tree house. You need to cut a few nails shorter, but you realize that you forgot to take your metal saw.

You could go home to get the saw, but you don't feel like wasting time and money to go back home to get it.

You really want to cut those nails so you could move on to the next part of the house.

You do have a woodworking hand saw, but it would be stupid to use it to cut metal?!

Not at all.

In this Instructable, we look at a way to cut nails or screws with a woodworking saw and without damaging the teeth.

This Life Hack was taught to me by my dad. He saw it in 1960s when he was just a kid.

If you are Interested in the video version of this Instructable and the embedded video does not appear on your mobile device, here is an alternative link

Step 1: Take the Saw

Picture of Take the Saw

Step 2: Find a Tool With a Sharp-ish Edge

Picture of Find a Tool With a Sharp-ish Edge

Take a crowbar or a hammer (like a brick hammer or similar) or any other tool that could work.

It should not be too soft.

I used a file/rasp for demonstration purposes.

Step 3: Smack the Saw With a Tool of Your Choice

Picture of Smack the Saw With a Tool of Your Choice

Smack the saw a few times from one end to another to create a tiny teeth.

Don't worry you will not damage the saw. The teeth will be so tiny, that you will hardly notice them.

Step 4: Use Other End of the Saw to Cut the Nail

Picture of Use Other End of the Saw to Cut the Nail

Now you can cut the nail or a screw with a woodworking hand saw.

This saw will NOT replace your metal saw, but it will save you a trip back home in situations when you realize that you forgot to bring the metal saw to cut a few nails.


SherylinRM (author)2016-11-21

I DEFINITELY like this one.

I have been woodworking since I was a child and never heard of this before :)

Thanks for this :)

NoynonMayta (author)2016-02-02


alaw6119 (author)2015-12-29

very cool thanks for sharing

CraigF2 (author)2015-12-09

here's one that's worked for me in a pinch before... if you're doing woodworking, there's a decent chance you have some sandpaper with you, wrap the sandpaper around the back edge of the saw (grit side out, obviously) Tape the sandpaper if you have any to hand, otherwise, just hold it in place with your offhand.

Use the sandpaper saw to cut thru the nail.

sWillyPs (author)2015-12-06

Ok, but you still need to run back to the house because you've ruinied the use of the back of the saw as a straightedge.

ianheavy (author)sWillyPs2015-12-09

That's a good point, my saw even has the handle shaped for drawing 90 degrees and 45 degrees. So I am glad I read the comments as I might have been tempted to do this. Perhaps always keep a length of hacksaw blade with some tpae around it as a temporary handle in your toolbag. Hardly any space taken up.

kelvinwop (author)sWillyPs2015-12-06

I'll consider that when I hit the side of my ruler with a file, oh wait, its a saw.

Skallywag707 (author)kelvinwop2015-12-07


jeanniel1 (author)2015-12-08

Hahahahaha! Great HACK! Esp when you don't have the hack saw on hand!

cybercapri (author)2015-12-07



buteman (author)2015-12-06

What about use the end of the saw blade instead of the back. It would be harder to saw with it but it wouldn't damage the straight edge.

ShakeTheFuture (author)buteman2015-12-07

Yes, I guess you could do it.

Suraj Grewal (author)2015-12-06

simply genius.

Thank You!

davidj31 (author)2015-12-06

the silly comments about ruining the saw are not necessary. if you don't want to do this then don't. everyone in the world knows it won't work for uses it wasn't designed for after altering it.
I like it and will use it if needed.

ShakeTheFuture (author)davidj312015-12-07


voixhumain (author)2015-12-06

that's a cool trick. im going to make it a bet at work. I don't think i'll have to buy lunch that day.

Good luck :)

townsend1212 (author)2015-12-06

Very nice.


mlunney (author)2015-12-06

That may come in handy!

headstack (author)2015-12-06

Had to watch and see if I'd guessed correctly.

The preferred technique is to pull the nail and that one even had a clean head on it.

If they don't, bend em 90 deg and pull them with the claw of your hammer, or if the nail is rusted and a strike or two won't free it enough for this to work, clamp a Vise Grip around it and a hammer with a wrecking claw goes right under this.

The hand saws I have are not treated this way, but it did indeed work! :-)

DavidB64 (author)2015-12-06

It's of interest if you want to scam someone in a bet situation but otherwise not really pertinent to any craft. If there's a nail in a board that you want to cut....

kirk thill (author)2015-12-06

Interesting idea, however I like the back of my saw to be smooth and straight since I use it as a ruler and sometimes I run the top of the saw next to my bare finger to help guide the saw. Also the rough edges of the top of the saw could leave marks on the cut side of the wood and also it might cause the saw to bind easier. I guess you could grind the edge.

bmaverick (author)2015-12-06

Thanks a bunch! You got my mind thinking. I'm heading out to the tool shed today to pierce a few holes onto the back side of my saw. Next I'm attaching a hack-saw blade onto it. I really like your idea of having two tools in one! Sort of like those multi-tools

Yonatan24 (author)2015-12-03

It looks like you'll have to hit the saw pretty hart with that file, If I have a file, I't just use it to cut the nail...
If you used the file as an example, And you're stuck somewhere without a file, Then you could use a rock to hit the saw and that would make more sense... :)

ShakeTheFuture (author)Yonatan242015-12-03

Yeah, the file was just an example :)

arpruss (author)ShakeTheFuture2015-12-06

It's all a great idea, but I wouldn't smack anything with a file. The steel on a file is hardened enough that I'd expect it to be brittle and you might destroy the file.

ShakeTheFuture (author)arpruss2015-12-06

File was just an example. I did not have anything better on hand :)

tagyerit (author)2015-12-06

Great, There are space that a hack saw just won't get flush.

grapenut (author)2015-12-05

loved it.

ShakeTheFuture (author)grapenut2015-12-06


Ultra-Indigo (author)2015-12-02

good use of an otherwise under used part of a tool! Now what can you do with the flat tip so it could be a true multitool

J SquaredA (author)Ultra-Indigo2015-12-03

gigantic screw driver? XD


ianstaley (author)2015-12-03

That is very clever

ShakeTheFuture (author)ianstaley2015-12-03

Thank You!

Michelle Irish (author)2015-12-03

I wasn't expecting that! Great instructable!!!

Thank You!

Kreat0r (author)2015-12-03

very useful DIY, especially when dismantling pallets! Good one!

ShakeTheFuture (author)Kreat0r2015-12-03


SEKTHEBOSS (author)2015-12-03

Awesome! Epic how it is so simple!


marcello bianchi (author)2015-12-03

New one for me.awesome

zappenfusen (author)2015-12-03


Thumbs up mate! Such a simple tip!

ClenseYourPallet (author)2015-12-01

Awesome!! That is a great idea... Thanks for sharing

Thank You!

About This Instructable




Bio: Innovative Projects, Diy's, Life Hacks
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