Fret saws are tools needed to be able to complete intricate and detailed work. Choosing the right fret saw is important for achieving outstanding results. In this guide, I'll explore the key features to consider when selecting a fret saw, provide a list of my top picks, offer expert advice, and share tips on how to use and maintain your fret saw.

Fret saws look very similar to coping saws, but they serve a slightly different purpose. The blades on fret saws have a thinner kerf and as such, they can turn easier, so better for more delicate work. As you can see from the diagram just below, the fret saw has a very distinct shape. It has a short blade (around 13cms) and a very high frame(25-51cms).

Predominantly, fret saws are used by carpenters for detailed woodworking and also for making dovetail joints by hand. They can also be fitted with a blade that allows them to cut thin metal sheets. Many people who enjoy crafting, such as model makers can also make use of this type of saw.

The scroll saw is the electric powered version of a fret saw, but scroll saws cost around £100-£150, whereas fret saws on average are between £10-20, in the UK. Therefore they are a much cheaper option.

The fret saw is often mixed up with the coping saw and also with a piercing saw. Some people also call a piercing saw a jeweller's saw. So, you can see where the confusion comes from. Woodworkers will fully understand the difference. However, for the average DIY person, the main differences are not that noticeable.

Fret Saw

best fret saw uk

Much higher frame, smaller blade and very precise cuts

Coping Saw

best coping saw uk

Much lower frame and a longer blade not as precise as a fret saw.

Piercing Saw

eclipse piercing saw

Used for fine metal work by jewellers mainly, but also on sheet metal.

All of these saws have a very thin blade and too much force or impatience will break them. Saw slowly and carefully and the blades will not break.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Fret Saw

1. Types of Fret Saw

  1. Spiral Scroll Saw: This model is known for its precision and ability to cut intricate patterns, the spiral scroll saw is a favourite among anyone who does crafts
  2. Parallel Fret Saw: Ideal for straight cuts and making accurate, parallel cuts in various materials.

Fret Saw Blade types and Compatibility

Selecting the right blade is essential. Consider the material you'll be cutting and the level of detail required for your project. Fret saws can accommodate a variety of blades, each suited for specific tasks.

Frames & Ergonomics

The choice of frame material impacts the durability and weight of the saw. Consider the ergonomic design of the handle and the overall comfort of the saw during extended use.

Price Range

Set a budget before shopping for a fret saw. Quality varies across price ranges, but there are excellent options for all budgets.

Top 7 Best Fret Saws (UK)

Just below, we have also completed some summary reviews on each of these, so as you can see which is the best option for you.

No 1 - Knew Concepts 5 Inches Woodworker Fret Saw

Knew Concepts 5 Inches Woodworker Fret Saw
  • Most fret saws cost around £10-£20, so as you can see this is a great deal more expensive than that.
  • The reason for that is primarily down to the unique lightweight design
  • It is very sturdy and yet weighs only 5.2 ounces (147 grams)
  • It also comes with a unique system that makes changing blades super simple
  • The blade length is 5" (127mm) and the blade can be tilted making this saw very easy to use.
  • Cutting capability - 100%
  • Weight and maneuverability - 100%
  • Value for money - 90%

Check Amazon UK - Price when reviewed £104.86 - 100% buyer satisfaction based on 10+ online buyer reviews

No 2 - Bahco 302 Fretsaw

Bahco BAH302 302 Fretsaw, 12-Inch
  • The Bahco brand are well known for making these types of saws and this 302 model is one of their best sellers
  • The frame is made from flat plated alloy steel which helps prevent the frame from rusting
  • The handle is made from beech wood and has been lacquered to give it a distinct orange colour
  • It comes with a blade that is designed for cutting wood
  • The cutting depth is 12" (300mm) The overall length is 260mm and the bow depth is 308mm
  • It weighs 360 grams
  • Cutting capability - 80%
  • Weight and maneuverability - 86%
  • Value for money - 96%

Check Amazon UK - Price when reviewed £12.40 - 84% buyer satisfaction based on 300+ online buyer reviews

No 3 - Bahco 502 Fretsaw

Bahco 502-SET6 Fret Saw Set
  • The Bahco brand make this 6 piece fret saw set which makes using a fret saw so much easier
  • The fret saw has a 300mm throat and comes with a wooden handle and a chrome plated steel frame
  • It also comes with a fret board, clamps, drills and a jewellers peg
  • Combines these help make using a fret saw simpler to use
  • Cutting capability - 80%
  • Weight and maneuverability - 84%
  • Value for money - 90%

Check Amazon UK - Price when reviewed £27.31 - 80% buyer satisfaction based on 100+ online buyer reviews

No 4 - Eclipse Fret Saw 70-FS1R 

Eclipse Professional Tools 70-FS1R Fret Saw
  • This fret saw from the Eclipse brand also sells really well
  • Like the Bahco brand, the Eclipse brand are also well known for making these types of small hand saws
  • This model has a deep bow (290mm) that provides ample clearance for flexible working
  • It measures 270 x 300 mm and weighs 313 grams
  • It comes fitted with an Eclipse fret saw blade at 16 TPI,ideal for wood cutting
  • Cutting capability - 80%
  • Weight and maneuverability - 80%
  • Value for money - 90%

Check Amazon UK - Price when reviewed £14.45 - 86% buyer satisfaction based on 400+ online buyer reviews

No 5 - Silverline Tools 453456 300 mm Fretsaw

Silverline Fretsaw 300mm (453456)
  • The Silverline brand are known for making affordable tools and the low price point is the main reason this fret saw is the best seller in the UK
  • This saw has a standard wooden handle and a metal frame
  • The throat depth is 300mm which is typical for most fret saws
  • It weighs 240 grams
  • Most UK buyers are happy overall with the saw, but they do complain that the fitted blade is flimsy and breaks too easily
  • Cutting capability - 74%
  • Weight and maneuverability - 80%
  • Value for money - 96%

Check Amazon UK - Price when reviewed £8.25 - 78% buyer satisfaction based on 400+ online buyer reviews

No 6 - Draper 18153 295mm Throat Fret Saw

Draper 18153 Expert Throat Fret Saw with Blade
  • This fret saw is from the British Draper brand
  • It has a chrome plated blade and the throat depth is 295mm
  • It has the standard wooden handle which is also used for tensioning
  • The blade turns through 360 degrees
  • It weighs 320 grams
  • Cutting capability - 74%
  • Weight and maneuverability - 76%
  • Value for money - 86%

Check Amazon UK - Price when reviewed £14.79 - 74% buyer satisfaction based on 120+ online buyer reviews

No 7 - Faithfull Fretsaw

Faithfull Fretsaw
  • A standard type of fret saw from the affordable Faithfull brand
  • It has a 5" (130mm) long blade
  • The throat depth is 290mm
  • It weighs 299 grams
  • It has a wooden handle that can be used to tension the blade
  • Cutting capability - 74%
  • Weight and maneuverability - 80%
  • Value for money - 96%

Check Amazon UK - Price when reviewed £14.51 - 84% buyer satisfaction based on 50+ online buyer reviews

Fret Saw Buying Guide

Fret saws are not a general purpose DIY tool or something you will use everyday. They are used for making small, precise detailed cuts, mainly in wood, but also in thin metal sheets. This is achieved by changing the blade. The vast majority of these are priced between £10 and £20 on the UK market.

There is also a bit of a learning curve required when you first start to use a fret saw. The high frame does make them unbalanced and getting control of that balance is important for doing intricate cuts. If you have some available time, we would recommend watching the video below, as it is particularly useful for beginners, or anyone who is frustrated when using a fret saw.

We have included a diagram of a fret saw just below so as you can understand the various parts and why they are important.

Fret Saw Diagram

best fret saw uk
  • The handle - All fret saws have a straight handle that is cylindrical in shape, and almost always made from wood. That is designed to make the saw comfortable to hold and use. The handle also prevents too much pressure being pushed down on to the saw, and that helps stop the delicate blades from breaking.
  • The frame - Most frames are made from a flexible alloy steel and usually quite a flat steel. There is a slight spring to the steel frame. The frames are usually coated with some type of protection such as chrome plating that helps prevent the frame from rusting.
  • The blade - Fret saws have a thin short blade, much thinner than a coping saw, and can make much tighter cuts. Most fret saw blades are 5" long (130mm) and these blades are considered to be fragile. It is the biggest complaint about fret saws that blades break to easily. They are not designed for heavy duty cutting or for fast or rough cutting. Various blade types are available ranging between 14-48 teeth per inch. You can also buy blades suitable for cutting thin metal sheets.
  • Cutting stroke - All fret saws cut on the pull stroke, so important to remember that the teeth should be placed in the frame with the points facing back towards the handle. The teeth on a fret saw are small with shallow gullets, so they cut and remove less material with each stroke. That means that the cutting process takes longer but you can create more intricate shapes.

Fret Saw Accessories & Blades

Choosing the right blades is as important as selecting the saw itself. High-quality blades ensure cleaner and more precise cuts. Additionally, consider accessories like tables or stands for scroll saws and dust extraction systems to maintain a clean workspace.

Tips for Safe & Precise Fret Saw Use

To make the most of your fret saw, follow these safety and precision tips:

  1. Proper Technique: Learn how to make straight and curved cuts efficiently.
  2. Safety First: Always wear eye protection and organise your workspace.
  3. Blade Maintenance: Prevent blade breakage by maintaining blades properly.

Fret Saw Care & Maintenance

Regular maintenance is essential for the longevity of your fret saw. Follow these tips to keep your saw in top condition:

  1. Routine cleaning and lubrication.
  2. Regular blade changes to maintain cutting efficiency. (The most important)
  3. Troubleshooting common issues, like blade slippage or vibration.

Where to Buy Fret Saws in the UK?

In the UK, you can find fret saws in brick-and-mortar stores specializing in woodworking tools and online marketplaces. Some reputable brands and shops include:

  • Amazon UK
  • Axminster tools
  • Classic Hand Tools
  • Etsy
  • ManoMano
  • Original Marquetry

Check User Reviews and Testimonials

Reading user reviews and testimonials can provide insights into real-world experiences with fret saws. Some users have shared success stories and creative projects they've accomplished with their chosen saws

Fret Saw FAQ

What is the difference between a fret saw and a jeweller's saw?

The difference between a fret saw and a jeweller's saw is that a fret saw is used to cut wood and a jeweller's saw is used to cut metal. A jeweller's saw is also known as a piercing saw.

What is the difference between a fret saw and a coping saw?

The difference between a fret saw and a coping saw is that the handle on the fret saw is much higher allowing you to make deeper cuts in wood. The fret saw also has a much thinner and finer blade and as such will make neater cuts.

What is the difference between a fret saw and a scroll saw?

The difference between a fret saw and a scroll saw is that a scroll saw is an electric version of the fret saw. the scroll saw is more expensive whereas a fret saw is much cheaper and requires your manual input.

Do I need a fret saw for DIY?

Carpenters use fret saws for cutting out intricate shapes and making dovetail joints. For general DIY it is unlikely that you will ever need to use a fret saw.

 

Selecting the right fret saw in the UK isn't a daunting task. Consider the type of work you'll be doing, how much you are willing to spend, and the level of precision required. Our list of top picks and expert advice above should help you make an informed decision. Remember, a well-chosen fret saw can be the key to turning your creative visions into reality.

For more information on fret saws, check out the user manuals and websites of the manufacturers. If you're looking for more inspiration and projects to tackle with your new fret saw, be sure to explore related blog posts and articles on techniques and creative ideas.

This comprehensive article provides an in-depth guide to choosing and using fret saws in the UK, helping woodworking and crafting enthusiasts make informed decisions to help unleash their creativity

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