Coping saws are widely used to cut the inside corners of crown and baseboard mouldings. I use one most frequently to remove waste from dovetail joints and occasionally to cut curves – for example when making custom drawer pulls or cutting small pieces for inlay work.
Recently I had the opportunity of trying the “Freestyle” coping saw from Spyral. While the saw looks just like a typical coping saw, the blade is unique – it has a 360-degree tooth design that cuts in any direction.
Model: Freestyle Coping Saw
Price: $25US (plus shipping)
Warranty: 30 days
Made in: USA (blades); China (frame, handle)
Cutting length: 6″
Handle length: 5″
Blade diameters: .028″, .040″, .050″
Includes: Saw, pack of 5 blades in 3 diameters.
A traditional blade is rectangular in shape with a single toothed edge, while Spyral blades are round, making them much more effective at cutting in virtually any direction.
The blades come in 3 diameters (.028″, .040″ and .050″). The thinner blade is best for precise cutting while the larger blades cut faster. Because of their round shape the thinnest Sypral blade (/028″) gives a slightly wider kerf than a small coping saw blade (.020″) and significantly wider than a fret saw blade (.015″).
Installing a blade is not much different than how it’s done on a standard coping saw – unscrew the handle to release the tension on the frame, install the blade and the re-tighten the handle. Once installed the blade is very taut and there is no flexing in the blade. The long rubber handle is comfortable and provides a good grip.
I found the saw easy enough to control when cutting thin stock (about 1/8″ thick) and softwood and MDF up to about 3/4″ thick. In hard woods it takes more concentration to keep the blade from wandering. I was able to follow a cut line more easily on fine straight grained wood like cherry and mahogany, less so on coarser grained wood with irregular grain patterns like oak and elm. As you can probably guess, the blades don’t do well making long straight cuts – but that’s not what they’re designed to do anyway. If you use a thick saw blade (wider than .028″) for dovetail work then the Spyral blade will work great to remove the waste.
The saw blades do leave a noticeable ‘corduroy road’ surface that needs to be sanded. The larger blades leave rougher surfaces.
For crafters who do a lot of curved work this saw will likely be quite useful. And, at about $50 Canadian (shipping included) it’s a lot less expensive than buying a scroll saw.
Carl Duguay - [email protected]
Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.