The fret saw’s bow-shaped frame and thin blade make it just perfect for cutting out intricate curved designs in thin wood. If you want to cut out pierced holes, make a jigsaw puzzle or build small table-top toys, then this is the tool for you.
Using a Fret Saw
The blade is fitted in the frame with a couple of thumb-screws, with the frame itself having enough spring to keep the blade under tension. To install a new blade, use your body to push the frame against the side of the bench until the old blade goes slack and drops out. Then set the ends of the new blade in the little clamps, tighten up the thumbscrews and let the frame spring back.
In use, you set the workpiece in the vise, or clamp it face down so that it overhangs the bench, and then you work with a delicate push-and-pull action. Most woodworkers prefer to mount the blade so the teeth will be pointing towards the handle. That way they cut on the pull stroke, offering better control for cutting thin wood.
The secret of using the fret saw has to do with being able to change the direction of the cut at tight angles without breaking the blade or friction-burning the wood. The correct procedure is to run the line of cut up to the angle and then at the same time increase the rate of the stroke while realigning the frame so that the blade is following the new route.
Fretting a Chair Splat
Having drawn up the profile and established the “windows” of the design, take a tracing and pencil-press transfer the traced lines through to the wood. Drill 1/8-inch-diameter pilot holes through each of the enclosed windows. Use either the power saw or the handsaw to cut out the overall profile. Finally, having secured the workpiece in the vise, take the fret saw, disconnect one end of the blade, pass the blade end through one of the pilot holes, reattach the blade and then set to work fretting out the enclosed area of waste. Repeat this procedure for all the pierced areas of the design.