Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Product Review: Green Lion Studios Saw Frame

Like most of you, I'd heard the buzz about the Green Lion Studios saw frame last year - lots of people talking about it, raving about it, getting on waiting lists to buy it. But honestly, as beautiful as the saw is, there were other things (tools, TOOLS!!) I wanted to spend my money on and I didn't see the point.

Sorry about the poor lighting - it was night-time!

Until earlier this summer, when a student brought one to an introductory sawing class so she could learn why she kept breaking saw blades. I took it for a spin, of course, because it was there... and I was smitten. Unfortunately, there weren't any available on the Green Lion site and with a house move looming, I put the purchase aside for another time. Several weeks later, my student called me (thank you Dottie!) to say that BJ Johnson - creator of the frame - was putting a limited number of saw frames on his website and then... no more for a while, since he had other things percolating this summer. I jumped at the opportunity and bought my very own before they all sold out.

And I am so happy I did. It is so light and perfectly balanced that sawing with it is nearly effortless - and I do a lot of sawing. A. Lot. After playing with it for a few weeks, here are some things I think you should know if you're considering a purchase.

Loading the Blade

Traditional jeweler's saw frames may or may not come with a tensioning screw at the top of the frame. The Green Lion saw doesn't have one - it's all one piece of steel.

I never used the tensioning screw on my old saw frame anyway, since I learned to load a blade without one, so this wasn't a big deal for me. I just load the top of the blade, brace the Green Lion saw in my bench pin, line up the bottom of the blade, and I'm good to go.

Please ignore my very messy bench. Yikes.
A properly loaded blade should make a high-pitched "ping" when you pluck it - like a piano wire.
And if I'm being honest, I never really liked the little moveable squares of metal inside the thumb screw of the standard frame - they would get turned around or jammed and they collected dirt and metal fragments like nobody's business. The Green Lion saw has perfect little round bases at the bottom of each thumb screw - clean and smooth.

Using the Right Grip

Of all the differences to me between the Green Lion and traditional saw frames, the handle was the most significant.

I had become very accustomed to using a loose grip I learned from Thomas Mann, a true master of the art of sawing. (If you ever get a chance to take a class with him, I highly recommend it!) The larger bottom on the Green Lion's handle and the lack of a "waist" into which I could set my grip meant I had to make some adjustments in order to keep my hand and wrist loose. I'll admit to some hand fatigue until I became completely adjusted to the change, but it isn't a long-term issue - just muscle memory becoming re-educated. The fatter bottom is actually a help in keeping the blade perfectly perpendicular - maybe it's just me, but with the smaller handle, I have a tendency to let the arm ride back on the down stroke. With the larger handle, my ring and pinkie fingers stay more open on the downstroke - and that makes it less likely they'll pull my wrist up - and the blade back - at the bottom of the stroke.

Action shots, courtesy of my husband Nick!

See? Perfectly straight, even around the curves - and let me tell you, that wasn't always the case with my technique!

Not Adjustable

Standard saw frames have a height adjustment at the back of the frame - and if I'm being honest, this is not a feature I ever really used.

I've heard of people shortening the frame to use broken blades as files in tight areas, but it's not a technique I've spent any time developing... and besides I still have plenty of these standard frames around if I ever decide I want to give it a try.

So... the bottom line? At $45, this is a terrific investment in a quality tool that will last you a long time and will help you be better at an essential skill in jewelry making.

And psssst: at the time I'm writing this, there are 100 saws available on the Green Lion site. Don't wait!

Until next time -

(This is not a sponsored post and I don't get anything for recommending Green Lion saws to you - I just really like the product!)


  1. Thanks Francesca, I just placed an order. I'm sure I'll be coming back to your post as a guide once it arrives.
    Your product reviews are always so complete and concise and perfectly written – thank you for sharing.

    1. Sandi, what a lovely thing to say - thank you! Glad this was helpful - I'll be interested to hear how you like it once you've had a chance to play with it a little!

  2. I love this saw frame so much I have two!

  3. Thanks, Francesca...I am a hit-or-miss saw-er! Maybe this would be the ticket for me.

  4. Hello! Wow- I JUST now have been made aware of this post. Thank you so much! I am really glad the saw frame worked well for you! Thank you again!!!


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