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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.