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The Butcher’s Backbone: Exploring Hand Meat Saws for Irish Butchers

18th June 2024

It’s a special bit of kit, but when used correctly, the hand meat saw becomes an extension of the body. Called the butcher’s backbone by some, it’s a specialist tool that’s lasted for hundreds of years, allowing butchers to carry a heavyweight in the right hand, and a weighty knife in the left, and saw through bone and flesh with legwork, arm work and sinewwork.

The Art of Hand Sawing

Hand sawing is about finesse. The saw has teeth that cut through tough tissue like butter so that a butcher can half a hog and portion a whole quarter of meat into its basic pieces (such as hams, shoulders, loins, ribs and sausage cuts) with minimal waste and speed. It also only comes with a lifetime of practice. Think of it as a sort of literacy and a reflection of respect for the meat and the butcher’s craft. 

Meat Grinders: From Coarse to Fine

The meat saw, which the butchers use to slice off-hand meat, is a critical part of the butcher’s kit, but no more so than the meat grinder, the high-powered device that chops up larger cuts. When grinding, the butcher has to control the mechanism so the grind’s coarseness is determined by the dimensions of the desired mince.

Butcher Equipment for Sale: Quality Meets Durability

Regardless, you’re looking for quality butcher equipment for sale – either as a budding butcher or as a veteran in the trade looking to upgrade. Tools can make or break your butcher operation. Those hand meat saws and heavy-duty meat grinders are an investment in the art of butchering – a way to make sure that, a year from now and five years from now, you continue to serve your community with pride and satisfaction. 

Hand Meat Saws Hit the Market for Irish Butchers 

Hand meat saws emerged in the Irish market around the same time that butchers were looking for new efficiencies in the increasingly complicated task of meat preparation. 

With these saws, the butchery trade could perform faster cuts and more uniform butchery than ever. After all, the meat industry continually relies on durable equipment. 

A small hand meat saw now existed alongside a meat grinder, critical components in butcher shops as consumers demanded more industrialised meat.

This shift increased productivity and raised the cleanliness of the cuts but also solidified the hand meat saw’s place within the Irish butcher’s arsenal. 

But this small piece of machinery’s sale heralded a key new development – giving a butcher the potential to be traditional but also modern.

Hand Saws Ensuring Workflow and Hitting Targets

Hand saws are integral to the meat processing workflow in Ireland and are a vital part of slaughterhouses and abattoir equipment. 

These tools will ensure that the butchers and the workers can keep pace with the demand for ruthless meat production. 

Hand saws can cut meat and bone quickly and accurately thanks to their precision and control. Needless to say, this is crucial to maintaining the standard expected by the sector.

There’s no time wasted trying to hack at that bone; bone and meat just slide smoothly into the saw. And there’s no splattering of blood and waste into the walking environment.

Clean Cuts and Momentum 

A quality cut requires that the hide and flesh on the bone stay as clean as possible. You want your roast beef lean and clean, not having to remove some of the meat compromised by the slaughter process. 

The efficiency demands of meeting production quotas are best achieved by keeping the slaughter line moving. If your production quotas dictate that your line should kill 15 cows an hour every hour (say for hitting a target for volume sold), you’d better kill 15 cows an hour.

And so the hand saw comes together, seemingly an anachronistic marriage of the oldest hand skills and cutting-edge requirements to keep Irish meat a global competitive force.

A Generational Icon in the Industry 

The hands, the meat saw, the meat hooks and other dedicated butcher’s implements are his tools of trade, but they are much more than mere implements. 

In the community of Irish butchers, the hands and the meat saw, as annexed to and inseparable from the animals they will have come from, stand metonymically for an entire quality, a committed ethos and an art form passed down through the generations, one that the butcher commits himself to from the time he hangs out his own sign.

The hand meat saw has long been a part of Irish butchery’s fabric, a vital implement in the armoury of precision, artistry and tradition that’s served Irish butchers for centuries. The beauty of these tools remains as relevant today as they were generations ago, as the industry continues to move at a similarly relentless pace.


While the cause of this piece seems simple – the hand saw is the most time-effective and by far the best tool for achieving quality in a slaughterhouse or abattoir in Ireland – it is obvious that the tool is used to secure not just its effectiveness but to re-emphasise the ethos of quality and efficiency at the heart of the Irish meat industry.