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New 5 inch knew concept saw problem

Hi all, and I hope that Lee is wandering around here somewhere. I am
having a big problem with the redesigned 5" Knew Concept saw. I am
unable to tighten the tension enough to get my saw blade tight enough
to saw! I have tried everything I can think of, i.e. reversing the
screw in the top, taking it apart and putting it back together again.
The blade is the correct size, so shortening it will not help. To me,
it seems like a design flaw that does not allow it to tension
properly. Is there an answer to this? Is anyone else having a problem
with it? I have a 3" saw with the spring tension adjustment and have
no problem with that one.

Gloria Lenon

Hi Gloria,

Lee doesn’t normally read the Orchid list, but I do. I’m the guy who
does the machining on the fiddly bits. (like the blade clamps) Which
"redesigned" saw do you have?

There are three permutations of the 5 inch saw now. They’re all the
same frame, it’s just that one of them tensions by way of a screw,
just like the classic KC saws (but without the spring) and the other
two tension with a cam lever. (One of those has blade clamps that
swivel, and the other doesn’t.)

What really matters is whether or not you have a lever. I suspect
you probably have a screw tensioned saw?

First thing’s first: the black knob only fits right one way. So you
want the fat bit of the knob “down”, facing towards the blade clamp.
There should be a thin little yellow washer under it, between the
knob and the sawframe. (Actually, on the screw-tensioned saws, the
knob orientation isn’t such a big deal. But you still want the wider
part facing the clamp body. On the lever saws, it really matters, but
they have a slightly different setup. They still want the wider part

As far as not being able to pull it up tight enough.

First bet is probably that you’re not pulling the movable clamp far
enough down when you load the blades. You’d be amazed how many
people forget to unscrew the knob when they change the blade.

So first step is to wheel the knob all the way to the end of the
screw. (until it almost falls off.)

Then push the clamp down so that the clamp is as far down as it’ll
go. Then try putting in a new blade.

The blade holes “dead end” into the larger threaded holes for the
clamping screws. The backs of the threaded holes are designed to be
the stops for the blades. With the tension fully released, a
standard 5.125" blade will hit the back walls of both clamp holes,
and bow a little in the middle. If the movable clamp really is down
as far as it can go, and the blade isn’t bowing, the blade’s too

Hopefully, that will sort your problem. If the blade is bowing a
little, just tighten the clamping screws, and then wheel the tension
knob until your blade “pings” at a pitch you like.

If you’ve taken the clamps apart, you could have misaligned the anvil
screws, which may cause the clamps to slip, or break the ends of the
blades. There are pictures in the new instruction sheets that explain
how align them properly better than I could just by typing. I’ll
email you a copy of the instructions directly.

One other problem we see is that sometimes little broken ends of
sawblade like to hide themselves in the backs of the clamps, which
makes it impossible to get a solid grab on a new blade. Best answer
for that is to take the blade out, and then blow the holes out with
compressed air. That doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it can
seem like the saw won’t hold tension. That would be my second bet.

Please contact me directly if you need any more help,

Brian Meek,
Knew Concepts

You might get a faster answer by emailing me directly. If everything
else is correct as you say, it is possible that the upper screw has
come loose from the clamp body.

Email me your address and I will send you a replacement.

Lee (the saw guy)


I had the same problem and even thought I got a faulty saw frame…
asked my husband MacGyver (just kidding!) to look at it and he
insisted it was fine I was not unwinding the top nut far enough.

So first, insert the blade in the bottom clamp and tighten. Then
unwind the top so that you can see that the blade reaches to the far
end of the clamp if you lay it next to it. This way you know that
you have unwound the assembly enough so that when you clamp it, the
blade will actually be fully in the clamp and not slip loose. Then
push against the spring to push the assembly back and insert the
blade and tighten the clamp to hold the blade. Then wind the top to
tighten the blade till it sings the way you like it.

Hope this helps,
Mary Barker

Yes, Gloria, I am having a problem with my new 3" Knew Concept saw.
The blade is almost impossible to tighten. I’m still trying to play
with it but it is terribly frustrating and difficult. Brian’s
explanation may help so I’m going to try his suggestions. Mine has
the screw tensioner, not the lever.

Ruth Mary

I'm still trying to play with it but it is terribly frustrating and
difficult. Brian's explanation may help so I'm going to try his
suggestions. Mine has the screw tensioner, not the lever. 

Having the exact same problem with mine - no lever. Also, the screws
are plastic - should they be?

Having the exact same problem with mine - no lever. Also, the
screws are plastic - should they be? 

I’m having the same problem as well. I thought it was just me
because it was getting so much praise.

One thing that might improve the situation is to insert the blade in
the top fixture first and secure it, and then put it into the bottom
fixture. This is particularly important if you are doing a
complicated piercing job that requires you to move the saw in and
out of different holes in the metal.

I presume that the cam system was introduced to get round this
issue. It’s always worth contacting Lee with your problems, as the
saw frames are still developing and improving.

With the increase in the use of these saw frames, I expect a DIY
culture of modifying the frames will appear. I certainly have a few
things that I’d like to do to mine, like replacing the handle with
something heavier.

I put a foam sleeve round the handle on mine, you can then hold it
more gently, I like it light though

regards, Tim

Hi Jamie,

Thanks for following up with your comments. That’s pretty much
exactly how Lee loads the saws in the first place, when he’s
assembling them.

Yes, you’re right, the cam lever system was designed to make blade
changes that much easier. Set the tension once for a given size of
blade, and forget it until you change the size of blade that you’re
using. (The tension you’d want on a #2 would be enough to tear a
#4/0 apart, for example.)

Lee and I both read the orchid list, he less regularly than I. If
you have requests, feel free to make them. Lee does listen. It may
take a while for things to work their way through the production
process, but they do. (that’s where the blade swivels and the cam
lever came from in the first place.) We can’t promise to provide a
saw to fit every request, but if we think it’s a genuine
improvement, it’ll get rolled in.

As far as heavier handles, probably not. We’ve both heard a long,
loud chorus of people who love the fact that the saws are so light.
If you want to both weight the handle, and make it fit you
perfectly, there’s a bit on my website about using Fimo to give
yourself a custom molded grip, that incidentally increases the
weight. (It was the best I could come up with to make my original old
style sawframe “perfect”. Haven’t used that saw in about 18 months



Is there any way to retro fit the new cam locking feature. When I
first got your saw, I loved it. But after using it for a while, I
found that the blade locking was very slow, cumbersome, and too time
consuming, to use efficiently in my jewelry production.

Thanks, Teddy

For what it’s worth-- I love my knew concepts saw, but the mechanism
was a pita for piercing, with the constant re-setting of the blade. I
soon realized I can set the tensioner, then release and reset it just
like any old saw, by compressing the saw with my chest. So that’s
what I do. It’s a pleasure to pierce with, now that I can release and
reset fast. Really excellent control.


Me too… is there an upgrade? I really don’t want to be a whiny
sort… but I don’t use the Knew saw because it takes so much times
to fiddle with blades. It looks wonderful on my bench… but I can
slam a blade into a traditional frame in maybe five seconds. Ping
it… go back to work. I’ve never found having to press it to my
breast (we all do that don’t we) to be much of a problem. I never
found the old saw (which I have used for 30years) to be lacking… I
am just a tool junkie. It is pretty (the Knew saw)… honest I am
trying to make it work… only my old saw… my friend of 30 years …
is calling to me. I never fiddle with it… slam a blade into it… and
go. I don’t break many blades anyhow. I gave $50 for the saw… it
really is neat looking… only I don’t have time to fiddle with a

OK… I have to say this. The emperor has no clothes. I love my Knew
saw… it is neat looking. I’d love neat looking if it worked. It does
not work very well. You fiddle with blades… you look cool fiddling
with blades. Quick release levers are not going to fix that. Who
cares if the Knew saw is rigid… what problem are we trying to fix?
Can someone help me understand how having a rigid saw frame is good?
Especially a titanium one… that costs… oh god. Designers saws for
those with more money than sense. Yes… you can buy a titanium one
for just bit more… a “special editon”. Saw frames are supposed to
flex… that is what makes them ping :slight_smile: I need to re-introduce that as
the NEW flex saw… just hold it to your chest and go on.

I dunno…maybe the knew saw is wonderful. Rigid frames and screw
devices (or levers) to make it work… don’t really work. I don’t
want to be mean… but is sucks as a saw compared to just a plain
old saw frame… that we hold to our chests and ping.

Can you say “work in progress”?

When I designed the first version of the knew concepts saw, I made a
giant leap forward, taking the first step in about 500 years of

Any time you take the first step in any product, there are
improvements that will show up with time and usage. Hindsight is a
lot like Monday morning quarterbacking. I worked with a team of
respected folks that are master jewelers and metalsmiths, and the
saw that was introduced to the world was a result of a lot of input
and suggestions. It was the best that could be created at the time.

Anybody remember the Model T Ford? About all that they have in
common with the current day product is the fact that they have four
wheels. The frame of the saw has been re-designed to make it
available in three different versions. 1. The tensioning knob
version is still available, but the spring has been eliminated.
There simply was not enough room to incorporate the other changes.
This has become the economy model. 2. The Cam-Lever version is now in
production. This meets the needs of the production oriented
metalsmith, such as James Miller FIPG, who was the first one to
request the faster tensioning method. One job that he was working on
required 7000 blade changes!

  1. The Swivel Blade Clamp version is the result of a series of
    conversations with woodworkers. This swivels the blade 45 degrees R
    or L plus a detent at zero. This lets you move the back of the frame
    out of the way so that you can saw in ways that were formerly

Plastic knobs? Yes, they are plastic because they are strong and
lightweight. I was trying for the lightest, strongest frame on the
market, and I have been told that I have succeeded. The success of
the saw and its world wide acceptance are a tribute to how good it
is. I feel that the improvements that I have made with the newest
versions will set the standard for some time to come. I don’t see
any further changes occurring any time soon.

The website needs to updated, but I have been concentrating of
product development, not advertising my wares. I will see some of
you at the SNAG conference in Seattle, where I will be introducing
some new items (not saws). Please stop by and introduce yourself.

Lee (the saw guy)

Hi Gang,

Two points to clarify what Lee just said:

(A) the knobs are plastic, but they’re on top of steel screws. The
part that’s doing the clamping is tempered steel. The tension knob
has an aluminum insert that carries the threads. (I thought it was
steel, turns out it’s aluminum. Sorry for any confusion.) So all of
the threads are metal-on-metal.

(B) we’re working on a lever upgrade kit for the screw tension saws
that don’t have the spring. Details forthcoming when we iron them
out. Unfortunately, there isn’t any way to upgrade the screw
tensioned saws that have the spring. (There isn’t room in the frame
for the axle. It doesn’t have anything to do with the spring, except
that’s an easy way to figure out which frame style is which.)



There may be a number of us who would be interested in knowing if
the pre-cam lever version can be retro fitted to accomodate the cam
lever action. I know I am interested as I’ve shelved my kc saw for
the same reason as Teddy.

Thanks and all the best,

Joe Bloyd
Bloomington, Indiana

I don't use the Knew saw because it takes so much times to fiddle
with blades. It looks wonderful on my bench.. but I can slam a
blade into a traditional frame in maybe five seconds. 

I want to clarify my post saying I treat my Knew saw just like a
traditional one-- I tension the blade using the set screw. Then when
I release it, I release only the bottom, leaving the set screw
untouched. To put it back, I press it between my chest and the bench
exactly like a traditional saw and fasten the bottom clamp again. It
has just enough spring for this to work.

This is NOT possible with the titanium frame, which I just saw at
Jim Binnion’s studio. That puppy is absolutely rigid.


Hello Lee,

I purchased one of your smallest size saws from Riogrande based on a
demonstration at the MJSA show in New York just a few weeks ago. It
is so much easier for me to change and tension the blade, I do not
plan on using my older saws again. The saw is also much lighter and
easier to handle than any other saw I have owned. I am very happy
that you make this saw.

Gail Middleton

This is interesting that everyone who uses the old fashioned
sawframe “positions it between his/her chest and the table”!

Didn’t anyone ever see the little brass knob on the bottom of the
saw frame? If you put the saw blade in both the top and bottom slots
and tighten them…set the little brass knob on the table top and
pull down on the handle, then tighten the screw at the bend of the
metal frame - you will get a nice ping and never have to put the
handle in your chest again.

I have been doing silverwork for over 40+ years and had a wonderful
beginner instructor who showed me this trick! Forget tightening that
screw and pressing to tighten the blade against the chest.

My 2 cents worth - have felt like adding this for a long time!

Oh yes, and I was fortunate enough to sell my Knew saw to some other
jeweler…wasn’t what I wanted

Rose Mare Christison