What is a coping saw?
A coping saw has a thin blade stretched between a U-shaped frame and attached to a handle. The blade is designed to be removed from the frame.
Coping saws are designed for very delicate cutting applications (e.g, making intricate shapes or curved lines). They should not be used to cut material any thicker than 25mm (1 inch approx).
They are often used to shape the edges of wooden moulding, or when creating joints.
A coping saw can also be used to cut shapes in the middle of a piece of material.
This is done by removing the blade from the saw, drilling a hole in the material, threading the blade through and reattaching it to the saw.
A coping saw is designed for use in wood and plastic, however there are special blades available which can cut through ceramic and metal.
Why is it called a coping saw?
A coping saw gets its name because it is primarily used for making coped joints.
A coped joint usually involves two strips of moulding, one of which is cut flat at the end to fit against a wall. The other piece is shaped to fit over the over piece, so that the two form a tightly fitting joint.
A coping saw has a thin blade which can be removed from the metal frame. At each end of the coping saw blade is a tiny pin, which allows the blade to be held in the frame. Some models allow you to adjust the blade to sit at any angle in the frame, making it easier to cut complex shapes.
Because the blade is so thin, it is ideal for cutting intricate shapes and tight curves in wood.
However, a coping saw blade is very fragile and would not be suitable for heavy duty applications such as cutting very thick pieces of material, or for fast, rough cutting.
Different blades, different materials
Blades for cutting non-ferrous metals will usually be made of high carbon steel.
Blades designed for cutting ceramic will generally be made from tungsten carbide.
The blade of a coping saw should be inserted in the frame with the teeth pointing back towards the handle. This is to ensure that the saw cuts on the pull stroke, rather than the push stroke. For more information, see our section: Push stroke saws vs. pull stroke saws
Teeth Per Inch (TPI)
A coping saw blade usually has between 12 and 20 teeth per inch.
A coping saw is capable of creating a very neat finish because the teeth are relatively small in size and have shallow gullets, so they cut and remove less material with each stroke.
However, the cutting process will take longer as a result.
A coping saw will usually have a straight handle. On some models, the handle is used to tighten and loosen the blade in the frame.
Straight handles are usually found on saws used for delicate or precise work. The cylindrical design allows the handle to be turned freely in the user’s hand, making it easier to cut curves and intricate shapes.
Saws of this kind will not generally be used for fast aggressive cutting, as it is harder to apply force to the saw with this type of handle.