In Chris Schwarz Blog, Sawing Techniques, Saws

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Before you buy one of the FatMax coping saws that I praised this week, take note. Take apart the saw and examine the blade connectors before you plunk down the $10.

Yesterday I received a 4″ FatMax saw that I ordered online. I promptly took it to the shop to replace its blade and make some test cuts. The sucker wouldn’t lock. At the toe of the saw the blade locked well at eight angles. But the at the heel the blade connector rotated like a top.

I took the saw apart. The blade connector at the heel was junk. The little nibs that lock the connector to the saw’s frame weren’t there. No nibs equals no lock. This saw has to go back. Of course, shipping will be more expensive than the tool itself.

So look for nibs before you buy.

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 5 comments
  • Lewis A. Saxton

    If the tool is made of iron or steel just drill a hole and put a section of finishing nail or an expansion pin in the hole to replace the missing nibs. If it is made of die cast metal you can still repair it that way but be careful to make the hole as small as possible and even then it may not have enough strength to be worth fixing. I would suggest adding several old style jewelers saws to your tool box as they are strong and take an amazing number of sizes and kinds of blades and are commonly available. You break a lot of blades as they work harden when cutting gold or silver. They are great for making small metal parts for old tools like the missing stop on a miter gauge. You use them like a coping saw with a flat v notch block clamped or screwed to your bench at chin height when sitting so that you pull straight down when sawing.

  • Carl D. Jara

    There is a reason I buy my tools from modern, American (Australia and Canada are in there too!) tool maker, they’re far superior to both modern BORG store items and even most antiques. I keep their kids in school, their houses warm and their tools ever increasing in quality and imagination. The movement of the modern woodworking tool maker should be considered a lesson to America, quit buying cheap crap from China and pay a little more for a lot more quality. If we don’t make it here, demand it, write about it, discuss it. Modern tool makers are always reading these posts and blogs, and responding to what their customers and future customers want.
    Thank you Chris, and fellow readers, for keeping this discussion alive, in a year or so we may see a few amazing new coping saws enter the market, exuding quality far beyond what we even expect of them.
    And thank you modern tool makers, thank you!
    P.S. I nearly crapped my own pants when I read your first sentence:)

  • Hang in there my friend and fellow woodworker. There is entirely too much emphasis placed on profit margins today by companies willfully neglecting a tight grasp on quality (not quanity), and that is the reason companies loose their standings in business and customer service today. I rarely buy tools from big box stores for these same reasons. I have learned from many years of buying JUNK that you get what you pay for, now only buying from respectable dealers like Tools For Working Wood, Lee Valley, Highland Hardware, etc. American business would do well to take note that they are only dis-servicing themselves and customers alike by placing trust in tool ignorant stockholders whose only talent is holding out their hand screaming for more money.
    Steve Hilton—Prescott, Arkansas

  • Chuck Nickerson

    The plot thickens. After reading this blog this morning, I went to a hardware store at lunch. The 6" FatMax coping saws they have in stock have the detents/ridge at both ends. However, the surfaces where the blade pins rest are so poorly machined that the blade is seriously skewed coming out of the holding pin! If I wasn’t so far behind in the shop, I’d buy one, needle file those surfaces into shape, cut/melt off the plastic handle, etc…

  • Jerry

    Thanks for the update.


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