I swore on a stack of “Mechanicks Exercises” that I’d stop writing about coping saws. It’s not healthy, and I know that.
Yup. Knew Concepts is making a coping saw, and the tool is only a few weeks away from being available to customers. At $149, it might be the most expensive coping saw on the market. But if it lives up to its potential, it might finally be the coping saw I’ve always wanted.
I bought the saw at full retail and spent a couple hours during the weekend messing around with it between teaching and attending classes. It weighs almost nothing thanks to its aluminum frame. The blade-locking mechanism is just what you’d expect from Knew Concepts: It’s a cam lock, and you can adjust the tension using a brass thumbscrew.
The saw holds standard U.S. coping saw blades (which are 6-1/8” long, or in the 6” neighborhood) that have pins. Thanks to the cam lock, it’s pretty easy to change blades and rapidly tighten them up – no compressing the frame against your bench or your breastbone. Simply drop the pins into the saw’s blade holders and rotate the lever at the toe of the saw.
Thanks to the highly engineered frame and the tensioning mechanism, you can get the blades really taut – it’s more like sawing with an unbendable wire than a floppy steel hotdog (which is what is typical of most saws).
And the coup de grace of the saw is how you can rotate the blade and lock it into several positions (there are eight, I think – the saw is in my checked luggage). No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get the saw to lose its setting. Not with too-tight curves. Not with continuous use.
As always with new tool designs, I have a concern that only time will answer. How will this saw hold up after hours of use and abuse? I could usually get about a year of use out of an Olson coping saw before it got ragged out and wouldn’t tension the blade sufficiently or hold a blade setting. How will the Knew do?
I have high hopes. Lee Marshall, Brian Meek and the rest of the Knew crew are passionate about their frame saw designs. I think they have the chops to finally solve the crappy coping saw crisis in which we now live. I’m going to give this saw a whuppin’, and I’ll definitely report back.
— Christopher Schwarz
Ron Herman has everything you need to know about handsaws in his DVD, “Handsaws: Tune-up, Setup & More.”