Monday, April 15, 2013

A Load of Buhl

Okay, I confess; tool nomenclature annoys me. There are perfectly good terms to differentiate one tool (or tool feature) from another, and some blighter comes along and tries to change it. One of the most annoying aspects of this is when they're actually changing it backwards to something it was before, so you feel that you probably can't even really get justifiably annoyed about it at all.

Oh, but I can. Easily.

Viz: Bench hook meaning a metal planing stop. Correct - technically - and yet oh-so annoyingly misleading these days. Bezel for bevel. 'Cos we've learnt to spell now, this is very irritating to me. And so on. Do not, absolutely not, get me started on the attempt to make "fillister" (however you want to spell that) mean "cross grain rebate". (Yes, that's rebate, you 17thC dwellers. We're all in the 21stC these days, y'know.)

In which spirit, let's talk about Buhl Saws.

"Do what now?" I hear you double-take. Well according to R Salaman's well-regarded (and occasionally not-at-all helpful) work, the Dictionary of Woodworking Tools, that's what we'd call a Fret Saw back in the 19thC. By a Fret Saw, obviously I mean a Buhl Saw with a frame, and not a Fret Saw that was back then, apparently, more like Keyhole or Pad Saw.

Get it? Perfectly clear. No problem. Terminology has evolved and we all know where we stand.

All well and good, except what do I mean by Fret Saw with a frame? I know what I mean, and what Raphael meant. (He provides both description and drawing, just to be sure) 12-20in deep (usually) metal U-shaped frame frame with a fine saw blade generally held by clamps. Handle on the end in line with the blade. Hobbies made thousands of them.

These days? Some blighter - and I'd like to know exactly who so I can put them in my Hall of Influential But Mildly Annoying Woodworking People along with Mr Dunbar, Mr Follansbee et al - some blighter has taken to calling Jeweller's Piercing Saws "Fret Saws".



Just 'cos they take the same blades? Does that make my compound mitre saw a table saw if it can take the same blades? No!

So everyone gets confused, and then people go truly insane and start confusing Piercing Saws with Coping Saws and any minute now some poor sap will call a Junior Hacksaw frame a Fret Saw and I WILL SCREAM.

*and breathe*

So, in this spirit, and in order that when someone says "Fret Saw" in a forum discussion I can just point them here and say "Which of these are you actually talking about as opposed to what I think you're talking about?", I give you

What Alf Thinks You Mean By *Blank* Saw.

Fret Saw. 
Takes fine, unpinned blades referred to as "Fret Saw" or "Scroll Saw" blades. It's not a Scroll Saw - a Scroll Saw usually refers to a mechanical saw. A Fret Saw is for Fret Work. i.e. Fine detailed sawing likely to make you fret more than somewhat.

Jeweller's (Adjustable) Piercing Saw.
Also takes unpinned blades referred to as "Fret Saw" or "Scroll Saw" blades. Is neither a Fret Saw or a Scroll Saw. It's a Piercing Saw. Piercing Jewellers with it is Not Advised as they have many evil tools of their own that would Hurt.

 Coping Saw.
Takes pinned blades referred to as "Coping Saw Blades". Designed with the "Coping" or "Scribing" of mouldings in mind. It could have been called a Scribing Saw. It wasn't. It's a Coping Saw. It's a modern invention; there is no 17thC spelling for it, so don't go looking. It's a 20thC tool. That's one of the reasons I like it.

 Another Coping Saw.
Also referred to as a Totally Unjustifiable Over-Indulgence. It was my birthday present to me; that's all the justification I needed. If you can't be nice, go away. Takes pinned blades referred to as "Good Lord, there are different TPIs available?! I must go mad and try lots of them." (Yeah, there was likely going to be a review-y kinda thing, but you got lucky and the Old Man broke his leg instead. He's doing better, btw. Thank you for the good wishes.)

So there you have it - what happens when Alf is feeling a little stressed and having to do Domestic Things like Bake Cakes and Remembering To Do The Laundry instead of playing with her new toy. No offence intended to any Influential But Mildly Annoying Woodworking People or 17thC dwelling North Americans. Love you all madly with your quaint terminology. Bless.


  1. The fret saw is a beauty.

    I think the 'Another Coping Saw' may actually be the Forth Railway Bridge.

  2. Love you madly, too.

    Best from this side of the pond.

  3. Calm down dear...make some sawdust. You know it's the way forward!


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