ARS Folding Hand Saws (SA-G18HL and SA-G18L): Product Review
A superior, high quality folding hand saw that is built for life.
Available on Amazon
With this folding hand saw, ARS appeals to the gardener who does some serious pruning and is looking for a top of the line tool.
The saw is available with either an impulse hardened blade (SA-G18HL) or the ARS marquench hardened (SA-G18L) high carbon steel blade (which has the same cutting performance as the SA-G18HL, but the blade doesn’t last as long as the impulse hardened version).
Check out the video review to see the ARS Folding Saw in action and to hear our thoughts on how it performed.
NOTE: The only difference between the two saws is the type of blade hardening technique. The “HL” is impulse hardened, the “L” is marquench hardened.
- Adjustable Tightness of Blade to Handle: Yes (either with a Phillips or straight bladed screwdriver)
- Special Features: Lanyard or hook hole at end of handle
- Cutting Direction: Pull stroke
- Blade Locking Mechanism: Swing lock
- Overall Length (including blade): 16 inches
- Folded Length: 9 ½ inches
- Blade Materials: High carbon steel (either impulse or marquench hardened)
- Blade Plating: Chrome plated
- Curved or Straight Blade: Straight
- Blade Teeth Design: Triple grind geometry (ARS calls it Turbocut®)
- Replaceable Blade: Yes
- Weight: 4 ¾ oz.
- Can Blade Be Sharpened: No for the impulse hardened blade (it’s too hard). Yes for the marquench hardened but it is not recommended since achieving the proper teeth angles is extremely difficult and improper sharpening will ruin the blade.
Like the other ARS saws I tested (such as the Pocket Saw SA-210DX), the packaging for the ARS SA-G18HL and SA-G18L saws includes a see-through plastic cover and a cardboard placard. Whoever packaged them for transit did a fine job as the saws arrived with absolutely no damage.
STRONG SAW BLADES, TWO OPTIONS
ARS offers this pruning saw with two high carbon steel blade options: marquench hardened and impulse hardened. Here’s what that means –
To make folding hand saw blades stay sharp through many hundreds, if not thousands, of cuts, the blades must be heat treated (one of the processes in hardening metals). The conventional hardening of high carbon steel takes the highly heated steel and quenches it (lowers the heated metal blade into a bath of oil or water until it cools).
ARS uses a blade hardening technique called marquench hardening that takes things beyond the typical quenching process. It’s a “hot bath quenching process that subjects the material and the outer coating to the same hardening transformation and cooling temperatures throughout the process. The hardened steel is then tempered at a specific temperature for an exact time to achieve the hardness suitable for ARS quality blades”.
Impulse hardening is done differently and generally, it adds to the price tag of a saw. Its advantage is that it remains sharp three times longer than conventionally hardened high carbon steel blades. In my tests, only two other folding saw companies besides ARS claimed to make a saw blade that is impulse hardened high carbon steel and that is Corona and Gardener’s Supply. According to ARS, this process “involves both the heating and cooling within several thousandths of a second using impact energy created by high-frequency current”.
COMFORTABLE HANDLE, GOOD GRIP
The handle includes a molded hook at the back end that hooks around your pinky finger for better gripping power. Add that to the ridges molded into the handle and you have a comfortable handle that’s easy to grip and doesn’t slip, even when powering through tough cuts. I normally prefer a rubberized handle to prevent slippage, but that just isn’t necessary on these ARS saws.
BLADE LOCKING MECHANISM & BLADE TO HANDLE TOLERANCES
Unlike most of the saws I’ve reviewed, the ARS saws have a “swing lock” to hold the blade in the open position (it does not lock the blade in the folded position). The lock works quite well; there was no “play” (back and forth wobble between the blade and the handle) when in the locked open position.
It’s easy to adjust/fine tune the blade to handle interface tension (the tightness of the blade in the handle) with either a Philips head or straight bladed screw driver. That’s one of the many features I like with these saws, as most people own a standard set of screwdrivers.
At first, I was worried that the saw (because it doesn’t lock in the closed position) would open inadvertently and pose a cutting hazard. The factory tightness was fine, but as an added precaution, I tightened the screw just a little bit and I had zero problems with the saw opening by accident.
If you’re worried about the saw randomly opening on you because it only locks in the open position, I recommend choosing a saw that locks in both the open and closed position. See our other folding saw reviews for one that will fit this need.
EASY TO CARRY
This saw when folded is only 9 ½ inches long. I found it easy to carry in my hip pocket without a problem. Depending on how deep your back pockets are, it may slide around some, but I didn’t have any problems with it falling out. However, I preferred the extra security of carrying it in my front pocket as it’s deeper and just felt more comfortable to carry, particularly when sitting down.
- Ease of Cutting: Start of cut is extremely easy. Very easy pull stroke
- How Clean is the Cut: Very clean
- Cutting Speed: Super fast
These two saws cut like a dream and made the fastest and cleanest cuts of any of the saws I reviewed. These ARS saws have a straight blade, which makes them an excellent choice if you’ll be doing most of your pruning between your shoulders and your waist. See our article on Best Pruning Saws for why this is the case.
Both saw blades (marquench or impulse hardened) have an over-pronounced tooth offset that aides in cutting performance and wood chip expulsion.
Both saw blades have the same cutting performance, except the HL version, being impulse hardened, will cut about three times longer before the teeth start to dull.
Both saw blades have a chrome plating that should inhibit rust formation, as well as the buildup of sap and wood resins. However, the chrome plating can begin to wear off after extended use, especially around the cutting teeth.
Chrome plating is a nice added bonus to keep the saw blade from rusting or getting covered in sap and wood resins, but it is not bulletproof. Keep an eye on this; you should be able to tell when the chrome plating has started to wear off. You’ll see a duller blade color rather than the shiny color that was apparent when you first opened your brand new saw. And once the chrome is gone, the saw will rust. High carbon steel has a way of doing that.
I like to take care of my tools; they just last longer that way. A light oiling of the blade and a little squirt of lubricant in the area where the bolt goes through the blade and handle, along with on the locking mechanism, will keep your saw in tip-top shape -my favorite lubricant is Tri-Flow® . And don’t leave your saw out overnight (where it’ll get covered in morning dew) or in the rain.
Wear gloves and eye protection (we recommend these glasses from Wiley-X) – period! These saw blades with their triple ground cutting teeth (Turbocut®) are extremely sharp. One slip and you’ll likely be on your way to the hospital for some stitches or worse if you don’t wear gloves. I suggest a full leather glove as this provides the most protection.
As far as eye protection is concerned there are two main reasons for wearing it: falling sawdust while cutting over your head or in windy conditions; and the possibility of a blade snapping if overstressed (for example, if it’s bent at an extreme angle). Be safe. Enough said.
ARS offers a limited lifetime warranty against “craftsmanship errors and material defects” only.
Regardless of the blade choice, this is my favorite saw of all that I’ve reviewed. Everything from the handle design to the carbon steel blades, and from the swing lock blade locking mechanism to the adjustable blade tension screams “quality!”. Sure, it’s more expensive than other folding handsaws I’ve tested but it’s well worth it if you like to keep your tools for a long time. The cutting performance is simply the best of any I’ve tried. If you do a lot of pruning and want one of the finest quality, best-cutting saws on the market today, then either the ARS (SA-G18L) or ARS (SA-G18HL) will do the trick.
WHERE TO BUY
ARS tools can be difficult to find in retail outlets so your best bet is to purchase the ARS Folding Hand Saw (SA-G18L) from Amazon.
Please NOTE that this is the identical saw to the SA-G18HL but it has the conventional high carbon steel blade (not the impulse hardened blade). It still cuts the same, as the review above notes, but the blade will not last as long as the impulse hardened blade. For those who are more budget conscious, this saw will provide outstanding service.
Last update on 2019-11-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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