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What is a Coping Saw?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2016
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A coping saw is a type of handsaw which is designed to allow people to cut unusual curves and shapes. This saw is named for the coped joint, a type of joint which is most easily made with a coping saw. Many hardware stores carry coping saws as well as replacement blades and blades for specialty applications such as tile or metal. It is also possible to order a saw directly from the manufacturer.

This type of saw is designed with a tension frame made in the shape of a C or U, with a handle attached to one side of the frame. The saw blade is strung across the opening in the frame, with the teeth pointing towards the handle, and the tension can be adjusted with the use of wing nuts or specialized screws on the coping saw. This design allows for a high level of precision and control when someone with skills and experience is using the saw.

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To make a classic coped joint, a piece of wood is cut so that it will fit flush with a piece of molding. For example, someone who wants to run molding along the inside of a room would take one piece of molding and run it up to the corner, and then cut another piece of molding with a coping saw so that it would fit over the texture of the other piece of molding, creating a flush, even joint. Coped joints can be very challenging, as they involve making precise cuts so that two irregular edges will fit neatly together.

Coping saws have other uses beyond being utilized to make coped joints. They can be used to create curved edges on piece of wood, to make cutouts, and to develop complex designs in wood which feature lacy cutouts. For a cutout, the saw blade is taken out, a hole is drilled in the wood in which the cutout will be made, and the coping saw is positioned over the wood while the saw is threaded through the hole, allowing someone to cut from the inside.

Like other saws, a coping saw benefits from excellent routine care and maintenance. The blade should be wiped after use to remove detritus, and periodically oiled to prevent rust, especially if the saw is going to be kept in storage. A cool, dry place is the best location in which to store a coping saw, and people should regularly replace the blades as they start to dull. Dull blades can create irregular or rough cuts, and may cause materials to crack or chip.

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