Fret saw ???

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Forum topic by controlfreak posted 09-19-2019 12:13 AM 363 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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201 posts in 109 days

09-19-2019 12:13 AM

I have a coping saw but the blade is to wide for dovetails. It would seem my only option is to buy a $100 fret saw. Can I not just buy a narrow blade for my existing saw?

8 replies so far

View MrWolfe's profile


349 posts in 631 days

#1 posted 09-19-2019 01:24 AM

Sent this to you as a pm but then thought maybe other people may be interested in the links.
I’m hoping others will chime in with different options for you.
I couldn’t use my coping saw either. Mainly the thickness of the blades like you’ve mentioned.
The knew concept saws look good but too $$$ for me.

Coping saws were NOT working for me. I went through a couple of them, mostly the blades were too thick and the pin design didn’t work for a smaller x-acto saw I had. I had similar issues with fret saws. There is a third type of saw.

I bought this

This is a Jeweler’s saw.
The ends of the frame where the blades are locked in rotate… I found that rotating them both about 35 degrees off of perpendicular let me cut the dovetails better… the frame didn’t hit/interfere with the end of the board. I think I saw that on a dovetailing video by Rob Cosman. He seems to be a great guy and his videos are very indepth.

This jeweler’s saw also lets you put smaller and thinner blades. The ones from my coping saw and my fret saw were thicker than the blade of my dovetail saw, whick is actually a dozuki japanese pull saw.

These blades have a 15 tooth skip pattern so they cut aggressively and they are thin enough to ride through the saw kerf then twist to cut out waste. I do not think they will fit or work on your coping saw. They are a little shorter and they are pinless blades that are clamped between two blocks on the ends of the saw.

Here are some links to the saws I have….
I bought a thin one with a back and I bought a thicker one that doesn’t flex as much and has no back. They both are great saws.

I really like these saws and they work really well for cutting dovetails.
Good Luck and looking forward to some dovetail posts from you using your new moxon and handtools.

View Rich's profile (online now)


4972 posts in 1097 days

#2 posted 09-19-2019 01:33 AM

You can only go so narrow on a coping saw. Search around for blades to see what’s available. None will compare to a fret saw though.

You can get a fret saw for about $25 at Woodcraft or on Amazon, but you get what you pay for. I have the Knew Concepts MkIV and swear by it. If you want straight, true cuts it can pull tension on the blade like no other. The lever tensioning and swivel clamps are definitely worth the extra cost.

-- There are 10 types of people—those who understand binary, and those who don’t

View therealSteveN's profile


3878 posts in 1081 days

#3 posted 09-19-2019 05:56 AM

I own a Knew Concepts Fret saw, and it is indeed the best of the frames out there.

That said look up Pegas blades. Those are what Lee decided to pair his saws with blade wise. They really are very good blades, and even in an old fashioned Coping Saw, they will make better cuts than a blade from Olson, or similar. Not always the saw that’s the special part. I put $$$$ on blades as winning more often than not.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Lazyman's profile (online now)


3943 posts in 1895 days

#4 posted 09-19-2019 12:15 PM

I have not done enough had cut dovetails to get good enough at them to actually use them in a project but I have a similar jewelers saw to the one Jon showed and it works well for getting where a standard coping saw is too big. The nice thing is that the adjustable frame allows you to use scrolls saw and other blades. The blades tend to be a little delicate though so have plenty on hand. Another option to consider is a spiral scroll saw blade which will cut in any direction so you don’t have to worry about what angle you are going to have to maneuver to make the cut. I’ve never tried it for dovetails but it seems like it would work.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View controlfreak's profile


201 posts in 109 days

#5 posted 09-19-2019 01:11 PM

Well I started looking at the Olsen fret saw that is on amazon and woodcrafters site but the reviews were brutal. I think amazon was only two and a half stars with several comments of “you get what you pay for” and “broke first time I….” I just pulled the trigger on the Knew concepts saw with extra blades and a dovetail marking knife for $99.00. Even though that is a lot it is better that spending $30 for crap and then spending $99. The only other option I had was to use the coping saw down the center and going side to side to remove bulk. I just don’t have time for that. I just hope my wife doesn’t see the order. I snuck it in an order at my office but she works here too. It seems I get in trouble on a weekly basis for my new hobby.

View Planeman40's profile


1452 posts in 3268 days

#6 posted 09-19-2019 03:34 PM

Here is a solution you might use. Coping saw blades are made to accommodate tight curves and are made with a wide “set” to the teeth to give the blade room to turn. You can modify a blade to remove the “set” by using a sharpening stone to rub the sides of the blade and grind the tooth sides down. Doing this makes for a narrower kerf and also a cleaner kerf. You can do the also to bandsaw blades! Once you do this though, the blade no longer has the ability to make tight turns!

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View BubbaIBA's profile


473 posts in 2884 days

#7 posted 09-19-2019 04:20 PM

I have and have used the space age red fret saw, different coping saws including the Olsen, which BTW is a good coping saw, as well as jewelers fret saws to clean most of the waste from dovetail sockets. The best I’ve found for that job is the TFWW 12” bow saw. The blade is thin enough to fit in a standard western back saw kerf turns easily and is much faster than any fret saw and the blades do not break. The cost is about the same as the red space age fret saw and is a better option, maybe not as sexy or as cool but a much better saw for the job.


View Rich's profile (online now)


4972 posts in 1097 days

#8 posted 09-19-2019 05:01 PM

Speaking of bow saw as an alternative, I’ve seen a video with Frank Klausz where he uses a bow saw with a blade that has a 90º twist in it, allowing him to saw downward and then, with one push, he goes through to the right angle portion of the blade and continues horizontally.

-- There are 10 types of people—those who understand binary, and those who don’t

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