In Shop Blog, Techniques, Tools

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Here in America we will put a motor on just about anything. Picnic tables. Ice cream cones. Scissors.

And yet, it was still a surprise when I stumbled on a motorized coping saw for sale on eBay. And no thanks to the two beers inside me at the time, I ended up buying the saw. It arrived yesterday. It is a curious creature.

Patented in 1941 by Albert J. Dremel (yes, the namesake of Dremel), the Dremel Moto-Saw is a remarkable if commercially unsuccessful piece of engineering. After reading the patent application (check it out on Google Patents), I was impressed by its ingenuity.

Like a traditional coping saw, the blade is held in tension with a spring action. The heel of the blade (the part by the handle) is on an armature that looks and works like a diving board at the swimming pool. The armature is attached to the frame of the saw at one end and juts out over a big electromagnet in the handle.

Plug the saw in and pull the trigger and the armature moves quickly back and forth as it is attracted to and repulsed by the electromagnet.

You can even vary the stroke of the saw by turning a knob that adjusts the position of the armature, just like you would adjust the springiness of a diving board.

How does it work? Well I plugged it in, pulled the trigger and the Moto-Saw made a noise like a gaggle of angry bees being shorn by an electric razor. This is normal.

The armature indeed moved rapidly in and out. I was ready to be impressed.

The only thing stopping me was the fact that this saw came with no blade. And standard coping saw blades won’t work. I’m guessing that this saw uses pin blades that have about 2-1/4″ to 2-3/8″ of blade between the pins.

I started making my own blades this morning, but I’m going to need a 3/64″ drill bit and some punches first. So I’ll put that on the list for my next trip to the hardware store.

Now before you dismiss this saw as a piece of war-era lunacy, take a look at this 2007 patent from the Robert Bosch corporation (yes, that Robert Bosch).

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 28 comments
  • kahal lattin

    i have one at my house and have the blade it came with, email me if u want pics or questions

  • Dan Beeson

    Has anyone tried using this thing for coping crown moulding? I like to cope my crown and have not been thrilled with the jig-saw options.

  • Lewis A. Saxton

    I’m 67 now and can still run circles around most 40 year olds, but the comments many people make about the tools make it seem like I,m a prehistoric being. Jig saws were mounted on stands and used coping saw blades. They let us use them in the school wood shop because they were the safest power tool for third graders. I don’t know when jig saws became scroll saws and saber saws became jig saws, but the newer saws work a lot better than the old power tools. I still prefer a coping saw for coping and I still know to pull down with it while supporting your work on a bench or V notched platform.

  • Kevin Wilson

    I have a bench mounted version, sold in the UK as a Minicraft Vibrosaw. It uses plain end piercing saw blades.
    The thing works great on up to 1/4" ply, if you run it on a slab of foam. Otherwise it rattles everything off the bench onto the floor.
    A sort of primitive scroll saw.
    We had one at school in the 70’s as you cannot cut yor finger on it. The stroke is so short the skin just wobbles back & forth.


  • Bill

    I’m glad you included a picture as I would have thought this was in the same class as stripped paint or our own special tool for newbie’s the wood bender. Yes folks for just $19.99……..

  • Ellis

    Bosch own the Dremel company now, guess someone was trawling through old patents…

  • Christopher Schwarz


    Thanks. I bought a five pack this evening and will pick them up tomorrow.


  • Chris, I found one of these saws at a garage sale. Sears makes blades that will fit. Craftsman Pin-end Scroll Saw Hobby Blades 929445

  • Al Goldstein

    Chris, I also found one of these saws at a garage sale. Sears makes blades that will fit it. Craftsman Pin-end Scroll Saw Hobby Blades 929445. It really works.

  • Mark Rine

    Isn’t this considered a power chisel?

  • My mentor Phil Lowe has had one for years. Phil also stated that he used it when he was young boy. It is a very unique tool.


  • James Watriss

    I’m not going to buy any motorized chisels until I find a good one with a laser guide.

    And even then, it better have a rubberized grip so that I can tell for sure that it’s actually a professional grade tool. I’m not interested in buying a stripped down consumer grade knock-off model, that’s actually intended for home improvement weekend warriors.

    I know I sound like a snob, but I’m just not interested in buying any more gimmicky, crappy tools.

    : )

  • Andrew Gieselman


    If you compare your photo of the Moto-Saw to some of the others that have sold on eBay, it looks like your’s may have a bent blade bracket. I notice that there are blades available for the Dremel Moto-Shop (a bench top motorized scroll saw) that are 3 inches long, and I wonder if these would also work in your contraption if you straighten out the bracket. Here’s a link to a photo of a "near mint in original box" moto-saw;

  • My Dad got one of these for me when, because of shop class, I asked for a coping saw. Typical to his generation, power was better. Because the vibration was hand and arm numbing for me, I used it once or twice and abandoned it. My Dad died about a year ago and I was cleaning out his workshop and cubby holes and there it was, in the original box and probably unused for forty years. I was surprised to see that it was a Dremel. I brought it home with me and plugged it in and the nerve numbing vibration brought back the memories of why I stopped woodworking when I was a pre-teen.

  • Darnell Hagen

    The BVI Jigsaw Jr., specifically.

    Also, a group of bees is a hive, colony, or swarm.

    Darnell, ex-beekeeper

  • Darnell Hagen

    That concept did evolve into a jigsaw, the Burgess Vibrocrafter.

  • Robert Diehl

    I’ve had one of these for 37 years. Came from my Dad who probably got it in the 50’s. You are way behind the times.

  • KevinH

    My dad had one of these. He didn’t use it much, but when he did, our old black and white TV went berserk with interference and noise.

  • There’s one for sale on ebay right now WITH the blades. Shipping’s a killer.

  • Bruce Jackson

    Electric chisels? Well, I had to go out into the shop and … yep, there it is: a Ryobi electric carving chisel set used to make replacement filigrees for antique cuckoo clocks before it was passed on to me.

  • Stan Suther

    I hope you didn’t pay much for it! I just threw one of these away last week. My father or grandfather accumulated it in their shop years ago. Of course, there were no blades around, and I think I plugged it in once and got a nice flash from a short in it. Got too many "projects" around already to keep it, and I’m trying to quit using electrons anyway.

  • david brown

    An electric chisel???

    I think Black & Decker is coming out w/ one of those next year.


  • Steve

    What I find most disturbing about this is your apparent familiarity with all things motorized. Imagining the existence of a motorized ice cream cone is bad enough, but to actually find one for sale…

    I guess this could be the power woodworker’s version of Rule 34.

  • Ken Whitney

    I had a pair of snippy electric scissors when I was a kid in the 1950s. Way cool. Impossible to cut your fingers (or much else, really).


  • Are you kidding me? I had one of those! It was a flea market/auction find a friend of my father’s picked up for me when I was a kid. I’m going to have to see if he still has it somewhere…

  • Lyle

    I would have a thought that it evolved into a jigsaw; the concept appears similar.

  • Rick Waters

    I thought a motorized coping saw was called a scroll saw. My bad.

    I’m waiting for the electric chisel! That’ll completely change how I mutilate wood!

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