Model building

Using of a Fretsaw

Sawing with a fretsaw is a skill that is obtained by sawing. However, learning goes faster when you can help yourself with an advice. Some of these advices are collected on this site.

If a child learns to saw then, parents or teachers are responsible for providing encouragement and security. After all, a Fretsaw is a sharp tool.

A Fretsaw and Accessories

A fretsaw

A fretsaw consists of a bow with a handle that stretches a saw blade. The saw blade is very narrow so that it is possible to change cutting direction. Because it is narrow, it breaks often and it has to be changed. We must be careful not to puncture ourselves with the broken saw blade.

The saw blade must be clamped properly. That is, teeth must point downward to the handle as we can see in the figure to the left. This way, the fretsaw cuts wood when it is pulled down.

We should lubricate the saw blade, so that the fretsaw runs better. To do this, we could use a piece of an old candle or piece of soap.

Before we clamp the saw blade, we must clean it. We must clean also both clamping spots on the arc. This must be done because we lubricate the fretsaw. Lubricants and wood dust are collected at the clamping spots. Then, we cannot screw wing nuts sufficiently and the saw blade would slip out.

As there is a tension in the bow, it moves abruptly when the saw blade slips out. Therefore, a nose should be kept at least a little away from the arc during cutting.

A rest table

We are cutting on a V-shaped rest table that helps us holding a piece of wood. Another very important task of the rest table is to protect a worktable.

The rest table must be firmly attached to the worktable so that it is not moving. Namely, when it moves, we would be focused on the moving rest table instead on the piece that is cut.

We must sit when we are sawing.

How to saw?


When we are sawing, we are moving the fretsaw in the direction up and down while in a forward direction, we only push slightly. Because of the push, teeth cut wood and the fretsaw moves forward slowly. If we push stronger, we would saw faster. But, it is harder to follow the line then.

To follow a curve, we are sawing continuously as described. At the same time, we turn the fretsaw or the work piece slowly.


It is extremely important that we keep the saw blade perpendicular to the work piece. The saw blade must be perpendicular to the side, as well in a forward direction! Only this way, we would cut the work piece accurately.

Children have small hands and it may happen that they lean the saw bow against a shoulder joint. Then, the saw blade cannot be perpendicular to the work piece anymore.

Making a rift

While we are sawing, we are making a rift behind the fretsaw. This rift has a width. The line that we follow has its own width also. We must cut the piece off so that a half of the line remains on the piece. This means that we are sawing at the outside edge of the line.

We must see the line that we follow. This is why a right-hander saws in the counter-clockwise and left-hander in the clockwise direction. The picture shows sawing in the counter-clockwise direction. Saw dust accumulates on the work piece and we must blow it away continually.


We approach to a corner slowly. In the corner, we keep on swinging up and down, but we stop pushing the fretsaw forward. This is like a free run. During that, we are turning the fretsaw in a new direction. Once the saw blade is aligned in a new direction, we start to push forward again.

If we turn the fretsaw without swinging it, we might bend the saw blade. With the bent saw blade, it is difficult to cut straight.

A joint

The model is assembled with joints that must be cut precisely. Indeed, the more precisely we cut the joints, the easier is to assemble the model. The joints are made in four steps. First, We cut the piece off without any slots. In a second step, We cut the nearest edge toward us. We take the fretsaw out of the rift and cut the other edge of the joint. In final step we cut the bottom of the joint.

We must be careful to make the rift from the center of line towards the inside of joint.

A hole

Various holes for windows, internal joints etc. are made so that we drill a small hole somewhere near the line. Through the hole, we insert the saw blade and clamp it. Then, we cut the hole off. Finally, we unclamp the saw blade to release the cut piece.