Canadian Woodworking

Coping saw

Photos by Rob Brown; Illustration by Len Churchill

Although a coping saw can be used in several situations, the most com­mon time it’s used is when coping inside corners of crown and base­board mouldings. Its thin, shallow blade allows for tight curves to be cut into the ends of the mould­ing, allowing mating pieces to fit together gap-free. The basic form of a coping saw includes a handle threaded onto a “U”-shaped metal frame. The blade gets positioned between the ends of the “U” frame. The blades have a pin installed in both ends (perpendicular to the blade) that’s accepted by two-pronged hooks at either end of the saw. Once the blade is positioned, the handle is rotated to add tension to the blade. The two-pronged hooks at either end of the “U” frame can rotate 360°, and some frames have detents at certain angles so both hooks are at the same angle. Sharp after-market blades will improve accuracy and quality of cut. Woodworkers and DIYers will use a coping saw to remove waste from dovetail joints, as well as other tasks around the workshop.

Price: $15 to $225
Blade length: 6-1/2″
Typical Blade TPI: 20
Throat Depth: 4″ – 7″

Get the most out of your coping saw


Take the Time

Slow down and be accurate when making your cut. This goes a long way to having a tight-fitting joint. Using a wide range of other tools to improve the joint, or having to re-cut the joint, is going to be slower in the long run.

File is a Last Resort

If you really are having trou­ble getting a tight-fitting coped joint, try fine-tuning the coped end with a fine file or sharp chisel to close the gap.

Practice on Scrap

Coping the end of a piece of trim doesn’t take long, nor waste a lot of material. Even practicing a few times is going to improve the final look of your trim.

Adjust the Pressure

Rather than using a death grip on the saw’s handle, relax your hand a bit and let the blade do the work. Focus on following the line.

Support the End

Making coping cuts with the end of the mould­ing unsupported causes lots of problems. A low bench or sawhorse is a nice addition when coping.


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