, ,

And in this corner we have an Irwin 15″ Universal Handsaw…

While sanding down my garden bench, I decided to make a design change. I chose to saw off the ball finial posts that are at the end of the armrests. I felt they were too tall and since I’m moving my bench onto our screen porch I didn’t want them obstructing the view if I was sitting with friends and chatting. So, I decided “Off with their heads!”

It was also the perfect opportunity to try out a new handsaw that Irwin sent me to test. They claimed that it is up to 3x faster than a traditional handsaw. Honestly I didn’t believe the claim. I mean – come on – a handsaw is a handsaw.

So, I decided to put their claim to the test with a good old fashioned match up.

The competition:
In this corner we have the challenger: the 15″ Irwin Universal Handsaw.

And the reining champion in this corner is my trusty handsaw.

Let me back up and tell you that I have a like/hate relationship with that traditional handsaw. I bought it a long time ago before I could afford a compound miter saw (power tool). So, I bought an el cheapo plastic miter box to use with it when I wanted to cut perfect angles. It took me about a dozen times before I learned how to properly use the hand saw. The key is to let the saw do the sawing (well, duh, right?!) Trust me, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. It is so tempting to press into the wood. But, if you put any force or pressure on the saw, it will skip and bind. Instead you have to gently push and pull the saw back and forth a gazillion times until the saw works its way through the wood. It can be  a brutally slow process.

So, back to the match up. I started with my traditional handsaw and started the timer.

About halfway through I had to take a break (and a picture). I gulped down some more coffee and continued sawing. (I stopped the clock at 1:15:20 when I took a break and restarted it when I began sawing again.)

Finally at 2 minutes and 32 seconds the ball finial met it’s demise and toppled to the ground. I wanted to topple down with it, exhausted.

I resisted the urge to go grab one of my power tools for the other side, but instead picked up the Irwin Universal Handsaw.

The angled handle felt a little strange in my hand (not bad, just different from the traditional one I was used to.)

I set the blade against the base of the post and began to saw. It cut through the wood easily and within 32 seconds it had lopped of the head of the other post. I was amazed. I double checked my timer, but it was working. Only 32 seconds and I was barely breathing heavy!


The Irwin 15″ Universal Handsaw by a longshot!

Here are a few details about the saw: It has a triple-ground tooth design, I’m guessing this has something to do with its speed. And the unique angled handle combined with the tooth design is supposed to eliminate binding. I had no binding, so it appears to work.

There are 45º and 90º angle markers built into the blade. I’m not sure that I would use them instead of my carpenter’s square, but I suppose they are convenient to have in a pinch. With a retail price of $18.99, the 15″ Irwin Universal Handsaw is a great and economic addition to your toolbox. (Especially if you can’t afford a power miter saw).

I’ve decided to send my traditional handsaw packing to make room for the Irwin Universal handsaw in my toolbox. Anyone want a gently used traditional handsaw for cheap?

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review. I was sent the Irwin Handsaw at no charge, but the opinions and testing were my own and were not influenced by Irwin or anyone else. For more information you can view my disclosure statement HERE.

14 replies
  1. Lisa~
    Lisa~ says:

    I LOVE a review…paid or unpaid. I follow your blog because I trust your opinion and couldn’t care less if you are being compensated. You are so right…you put a lot of time into this blog and we get it all for free. (hooray!)

    Nann Bell’s brother’s comments were good. That is kind of what I thought…the old saw isn’t a “traditional hand saw.” But I’d still like to try the Irwin. It would be good to have around. We’re not talking big bucks here…just some good thing to have handy when we get an urge to cut something off. LOL! Thanks! Lisa~

  2. Nann Bell
    Nann Bell says:

    I forwarded this post to my brother & sister, thinking they’d find it useful. My brother had some cogent comments, which I quote in edited form below. (this is not intended as criticism, just further information that I personally didn’t consider before.)

    “She compares it with what she calls a “traditional handsaw”, but her photos make it clear that this is a back saw, not a carpenter’s saw, which is what I would call a traditional hand saw. A back saw is designed only for use in a miter box. It has the stiff rib at the top to help keep cuts straight, which is OK because the size of the miter box limits the depth of the cut, so the rib never gets in the way. (Note from the photos that her cut ends up not being straight because she is trying to make a flush cut and the rib forces the saw to an angle.) The handle is in a somewhat uncomfortable position to make sure it stays out of the way of the box. A carpenter’s saw would have been far more appropriate for this task.

    ….More important, what she is comparing is an old saw and a new saw. Most people don’t realize how quickly even good saws lose their sharpness. If she had compared the new Irwin saw with a new carpenter’s saw, she would have gotten similar results from both.”

    • Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl)
      Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl) says:

      Nann, Thank you for forwarding your brother’s comments. He is right, that is a saw I bought for my miter box, but it still stinks (even when using it in the miter box). I have yet to try the Irwin saw in my miter box, but might have to now that I’ve tried it freehand. I appreciate the feedback. Keep it coming!

  3. Alice
    Alice says:

    Your hard work and efforts to save us time and energy, by showing us how something works better, is truly appreciated by most I’m sure. In life I have learned you can’t please everyone and there is always someone to complain reguardless of how you present yourself. You are one great lady and I for one do appreciate how hard you work to share your valuable time with us. I love your blog just the way it is.

  4. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Great post I may have to pick one up, as I need a good hand saw (teensy bit afraid to use dh power tools yet). That was not a commercial, it was a product testing..there’s a difference. Thanks!

  5. Erin @ Two Story Cottage
    Erin @ Two Story Cottage says:

    Considering I don’t have a power saw I maybe should invest in the Irwin….if you could SEE me sawing in my garage you would fall down laughing. It takes me forever! This was entertaining & informative as always. 🙂

  6. Kristi @ Creative Kristi
    Kristi @ Creative Kristi says:

    You are just way to funny! I love your sense of writing because it is so different (& funny!) from all the other ‘home blogs’ out there! 🙂 Love ya girl & even though this SO was NOT a commercial-I’d love you even if you DID do commercials-which you don’t…but y’know what I meant LOL

  7. Pink Toes
    Pink Toes says:

    Brittany–I hope that the comment above does not deter you from doing this again in the future. I appreciate an honest review about a product someone else has experience with so that I don’t waste precious dollars on an inferior product. Not to mention my time–I can stand in front of a product hem hawing about which to get for WAY TOO LONG.

    I would feel confident about purchasing this saw because you did an honest comparison.

  8. Cherie
    Cherie says:

    Wow that comment above was a bit harsh.

    Anywho, I loved your post. I find it so refreshing when actual people give the information about a product.

    Great Job!

    • Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl)
      Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl) says:

      I appreciate your comment and am sorry to lose you as a reader, but I completely understand and respect your time.
      As a blogger, I give many hours of my time for free. Unfortunately, in order to continue blogging I need to recoup a small amount of money in order to justify my time. Therefore, I have recently added advertising on my site, but as I stated in the post this was NOT a paid advertisement, but strictly a tool review which I thought my readers would find helpful. Honestly, I wish I had known about this saw before wasting my time on Mr. El Cheapo Traditional handsaw.

      Thank you for the time you spent to send me this comment. I really appreciate when a reader takes the time to let me know what they like and especially what they don’t like so I can try to improve.

      I hope you have a great week.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.