A new ECE vs a vintage Ulmia frame saw

Just before last Christmas, I bought an ECE frame saw, or Spannsägen, from Dieter Schmid tools in Germany. There are no retailers of ECE saws in Canada (since Adria Saws stopped carrying them), although Highland Woodworking does carry it as well. If you are looking for an Ulmia frame saw, then Peck Tool carries them. I ended up buying the 700mm rip cut saw with an extra crosscut blade. Dieter Schmid did a great job in shipping the saw, and I didn’t quite understand how big the saw was until it arrived (and it was only €37,82.

At Tools of the Trades I also managed to snap up a vintage Ulmia 700mm frame saw for $50. So I thought it might be interesting to review some of the differences in new vs. vintage frame saws. Now these are saws that have not seen a great deal of change over the years.

The first thing that is apparent is that the Ulmia frame saw is taller than it’s contemporary – 15-3/8 vs. 13½ (the new Ulmia 700mm frame saws are circa 14″ tall). The cutting depth is also deeper on the Ulmia is 195mm vs only 150mm for the ECE. The blade mechanisms on both saws are constructed in a similar fashion, with the major difference being the tension mechanism. The Ulmia uses a traditional twisted wire attached to a threaded eye bolt (as do new Ulmia saws), whereas the ECE uses the more contemporary steel rod tensioner. Both saws use wing-nuts to adjust the tension.

The handle on the ECE is slightly larger, and the lower part of the frame, which offers an alternate positioning for the hand is octagonal in shape, which makes for a better hold. The handle on the Ulmia is more contoured.

The screw tang used for holding the blade in the saw has not changed, albeit the both the washer and machine screw seem more substantial on the Ulmia saw.

The final thing that I find interesting is the labelling on the saws. Both have a traditional buttons with the respective manufacturers on them, both in green. The ECE saw also has a label on the stretcher, but it seems somewhat lackluster. I realize that manufacturers put less effort into things like this these days, but it does detract from the styling of the saw.




3 thoughts on “A new ECE vs a vintage Ulmia frame saw

  1. belloeinvincibile says:

    I have 3 Ulmia frame saws. One 700 rip, one 600, and one 600 with a curve sawing blade.

    Most use gets the 600 with a japanese blade on it, which i really recomnend. Very fast and clean cut.

  2. R.M. says:

    Thanks for your article, I found it when looking for reviews for a present for my husband. I liked the comparison, but you didn’t mention which you liked better and why. I’m also wondering the difference between the 600 and 700 – I’m guessing the 700 makes a finer cut? (Obviously I myself don’t know a ton about woodworking!). My husband uses mostly vintage tools but unfortunately I don’t know well enough what he wants to surprise him with those. Any comments you have are welcome! This is the one I’m looking at – I assume this is the one you’re reviewing (ece universal w 700 Japanese blade)?

    • spqr says:

      I don’t think there is a substantial difference between the two brands of saws. The difference between
      the 600 and the 700 is just length of the blade, so 100mm (4″). I don’t know if it makes much of a difference,
      except the longer saw may be more beneficial for makes rip cuts (cuts that go with the grain, down the trunk per se).
      I don’t have the Japanese blade, but have enough Japanese saws to know that that would very likely be a good
      choice. The great thing about these saws is the fact that you get one frame, and can add any blade to it,
      making it quite a multi-purpoe saw.
      Vintage tools of course are challenging to buy as presents. Does he collect vintage tools only to use?
      One good choice is a vintage block plane, because there are so many different ones. If buying (vintage) as a gift I would
      go with a website like jimbodetools.com, because you know you are getting quality. In fact the website has a
      bunch of vintage bow saws, the smaller cousin of the frame saw, which are quite nice looking. Let me know if you
      need some more info.

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