In Tool Reviews

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Looks like a bridge. The truss system for the spine of this saw looks and acts like a bridge – it can handle incredible stress.

The truss system of the spine looks curious, but it works gangbusters.

Tool: 5″ Titanium Birdcage Fret Saw Shop Now 

Manufacturer: Knew Concepts

MSRP: $235 (includes saw and Pegas #7 skip tooth woodworking blade)

The crazy design of this titanium 5″ woodworker’s fretsaw from Knew Concepts is, I think it’s fair to say, the first thing you notice. But use it and you’ll quickly come to appreciate that the structure helps to make it lightweight and rigid, and the clever tensioning mechanism snugs up the blade tight – and keeps it there.

This frame was a redesign of the company’s earlier titanium woodworker’s fretsaw, the frame of which was a continuous piece of 18“-thick titanium (the same design as the aluminum woodworker’s fretsaw currently available). But in an effort that was initially meant to reduce materials waste and take advantage of more readily available 116“-thick  titanium, designer Lee Marshall came up with a riveted truss system for the saw’s spine that’s even more rigid than the original (he calls it a “birdcage saw,” in honor of the Birdcage Maserati). The spine is riveted to  18“-thick titanium arms.

Also worthy of note is the blade-clamping and tensioning mechanism. On most fretsaws, the blade is pinched between two plates at either end. When a saw is properly tensioned, those plates need to hold the blade tightly; they typically don’t (and it is quite frustrating when the blade comes loose in the middle of a cut).

Cam action. The blade is tensioned by setting the brass screw appropriately, then flipping the cam lever. Once the screw is set, it’s quick and easy to flip from tensioned to not.

All Knew Concepts saws have a small plunger and anvil mechanism that grabs tight on the blade with little effort; get the blade positioned correctly in the blade slot, then turn the orange knobs to lock it securely.

And the tensioning mechanism is just as simple to use; it works more like the tension-release lever on a band saw than the typical thumbscrew arrangement. Set it just short of perfect by turning the knurled brass screw, then a cam clamp effects the final tension. Flip it against the saw’s arm, and you have a tight blade that will “ping” nicely if you pluck it. When the saw isn’t in use, release the tension to extend the blade’s life.

Another clever feature is that the blade-clamping mechanism can swivel left or right and lock in detents, from 0° to 45° (though 90° would be nice) – quite handy when removing dovetail waste in the middle of a board that’s wider than the saw’s armature.

At $235, the Knew Concepts titanium saw is certainly an investment in your work – but it is also the best fretsaw I’ve used. The company also offers a fine aluminum version (with a continuous frame) for $99.

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