Lee Marshall who developed and produced the Bonny Doon hydraulic press until he retired a few years ago has not just been goofing off since then. One of his projects has been the improvement of the humble jewelers saw frame.
One of the last paces one would expect to see a significant innovation is in the jewelers saw frame. It hasn’t changed much in a hundred years or more. But I have had the pleasure of testing out Lee’s new jewelers saw frame and all I can say is, wow.
There are several innovative changes that Lee has made with these frames. The first and most obvious is the truss style frame. This piece is cut from high strength aluminum and is both light and incredibly rigid. Because of the rigidity of the frame trying to tension a saw blade in the traditional means by resting the end of the frame on the bench and compressing the frame with your chest pushing on the handle would be downright painful. So Lee developed a blade tension mechanism that both holds the blade very securely and allows tension to be adjusted with just your fingertips.
I have found I can put a higher tension on the blade than I would with the steel frame saw. This combination of rigid frame and easy tension adjustment makes it possible to put a controlled high tension on the blade and hold it so it does not flex excessively which makes for more accurate cutting and reduces blade breakage.
I have been putting several of the saw prototypes and production versions through testing here in my shop. I have found that the production version is light and easily held with just my fingertips so that on delicate sawing jobs I have excellent control over where the blade is going and am able to do precision work with less effort.
On some heavy work in 16 ga mild steel and a #2 blade Yesterday I was able to make quick work of a fairly simple outline but one that needed precise following of the pattern. The blade needed to be moved a couple of times to drilled holes in the sheet for interior cuts and even with the tensioning and loosening and retensioning there was no blade breakage in a pattern that had close to 10 inches of cutting.
Lee is also producing a 5 inch version and an extra deep 8 inch version of the frame. I have put the 5 inch version through some tests and find it is better than the standard 5 inch frame I am used to but it is not as stiff as the 3 inch Knew Concepts frame. While it might be tempting to get the 5 inch version because it is as light or lighter than a steel 3 inch frame it still has the inertia of that large frame making it less responsive than its 3 inch sibling. But it is still a much stiffer frame than the standard 5 inch steel saw frame and when comparing between the steel frame and the Knew Concepts frame there is no question who the winner is. I have not really tested the 8 inch version very much yet, I dont even have a 8inch steel frame as I just don’t do much work that calls for that size frame. But from what I remember of trying to use a large frame like that before the Knew Concepts frame is way stiffer and much more easily controlled. Lee has also created a forum on his website where folks can share information and opinion about the new saws.
I love these saws.