A few years ago, after hearing great things about Knew Concepts and their amazing fret saws, I eventually splurged and bought one. The prices aren’t pretty, but I was growing increasingly frustrated with my coping saw for making detailed cuts.
For woodworking, a fret saw like this one is excellent for cutting out waste material when cutting out dovetails by hand. For other work, it’s great for making precise cuts, curves, and other intricate details.
In general a fret saw is far better suited for making precise cuts than coping saws, although coping saws do have their place. Coping saws also have longer, thicker, and more durable blades.
The big 2 things about Knew Concepts’ fret saws, at least for me, is the rigidity of the frame and controllability of the blade.
You need a little more or less tension? That’s easy. You need the blade at a slight angle? That’s a quick adjustment too, with the pivoting blade model.
These saws work with 5″ (5-1/8″ nominal) fret saw and jeweler’s saw blades. There are 3 sizes, corresponding to throat depth: 3″, 5″, and 8″. I bought the 5″ version.
In each size tier, there are 3 different saws, with the difference being in the blade retention style.
- Screw tension
- Lever tension
- Lever tension and swivel blade clamps
The Knew Concepts fret saws with screw tension are least expensive, with lever tension and swivel blade clamp are most expensive.
I bought the most featured one because I thought it would be useful to be able to rotate the blade, with detents at 45° either way, and I was right. That feature has come in handy, not all the time, but frequently enough. It’s not going to be essential for everyone, especially if you work with smaller work, but I took the chance and it paid off.
If I instead opted for the 8″ size – again, this corresponds to the throat depth, each saw takes the same size blade – I might not have needed the swivel feature. But in my use, the rotatable blade makes complex or difficult cuts a little easier.
Each blade comes with a Pegas #7 skip tooth blade, which is well suited for woodworking. Depending on where you buy your saw, it might come with something different.
These saws are definitely not for everyone, due to their price. When I bought mine, it was a birthday gift to myself, otherwise I couldn’t really justify it. If you have deeper pockets, or a bigger birthday or holiday budget, they also make titanium-framed models. The regular red-colored ones are made from anodized aluminum.
With right saw blade, you can cut wood, plastic, or even light or thin metals. For woodworking, stick with the Pegas #7 skip tooth blade to start. A replacement pack of those blades is between $3.25 and $6 or so, per dozen. That blade, when coupled with this saw, is capable of cutting in reasonably tight angles, which is why it’s praised for dovetail work.
If you think you might make use of the swivelling blade clamps, which allows the blade to be rotated to any angle or indexed at 90° or 45° both ways, step up to the highest model. If you don’t think you need that feature, at least still stick with the lever tension model. The lever makes blade installation and removal quick and easy, and I suppose it might allow for blade tension to be eased up a little, if ever needed.
Knew Concepts makes their saws in the USA.
You’ll see some woodworkers, including some very influential ones, gushing about these saws and how great they are. My saw is fantastic, and I will never have to buy another fret or coping saw ever again. Or at least that’s what I told myself. Is it magical? No. But I quite frankly cannot think of anything bad to say about the saw.
Who is this for? Anyone who wants to make precision cuts in wood, plastic, or light metal materials. It can also be used on jewelry-making materials, such as wax.
What isn’t this for? This isn’t a saw for hogging out large chunks from thick materials. It can be used for cutting the waste wood from dovetails, but within reason. You’re not going to want to use this for long straight cuts in very thick wood materials.
Don’t know which one you need? Go with the 5-inch models, as I did, and decide whether you want maximum affordability, quick blade changes, or quick blade changes and a rotatable blade. If you’re still not sure, here’s a selection guide.
Knew Concepts also makes a coping saw, for constuction, restoration, coping, molding, or large fine cuts, that works with standard pinned 6-1/2″ blades.
5″ Saw Prices:
- Screw tension: $56
- Lever tension: $73
- Lever tension and swivel blade clamps: $99
Don’t like the handle?
There are optional 3rd party handle upgrades available at Lee Valley for $85 each. There’s also an upgrade handle for Knew Concepts’ coping saw.