The process of creating a piece of wooden furniture or completing any other woodworking job without a coping saw is tricky. Knowing how to find the best coping saw will make it much easier to make the finishing touches on the piece you’re working on.
Unlike cordless miter saw and similar woodworking tools, coping saws don’t have the capacity to cut through thick, high-density materials. Instead, they are used to make precision cuts that can’t be performed with other more powerful tools.
That’s why a coping saw is an irreplaceable tool that is frequently utilized in both professional and amateur woodworking workshops. This guide will show you how to find the best coping saw and it will take you through some of the features that will help you to pick a model that meets your demands.
Top 5 Coping Saws Upfront
|Best Overall||GreatNeck 28||Check price here|
|Best for Professionals||Smithline SL-400||Check price here|
|Best for DIY Projects||OLSON SAW SF63510||Check price here|
|Best High-Tension||Bacho 301||Check price here|
|Best for Novice Users||Zona 35-670||Check price here|
What is a coping saw?
A coping saw is a manually operated tool that allows the user to make a cut with more accuracy. Its design is simple, as it features just three major components, the handle, the frame, and the blade, so you just have to push and pull in order to start cutting material.
The range of materials you can cut with a coping saw depends on the blade you’re using, but generally speaking, these tools can cut through softer materials like wood or plastic, although with the right blade you can also cut tiles or nonferrous metals.
Consequently, a coping saw can be extremely useful if you’re working on a mosaic tile backsplash idea or cut metal without having to use a metal lathe. Coping saws are usually lightweight, but their durability depends on how often you use them and the quality of the model you choose.
How is a coping saw different from a fret saw or a scroll saw?
The terms fret saw and coping saw are sometimes used interchangeably, which is understandable as these tools have nearly identical designs. However, fret saws have deeper frames than coping saws that allow for higher cut depth capacity.
Also, the blades on frat saws have around 32 teeth per inch, while most coping saws are equipped with blades that have between 10 and 20 teeth per inch. Despite having a high amount of teeth, the frat saw blades are incredibly thin and they break easily so they have to be replaced frequently.
A scroll saw is a power tool that utilizes a thin blade to create artwork or differently shaped objects. The thickness of the blade prevents you from using a scroll saw to cut through thick materials, while making a straight cut with this tool can be complicated due to the blade swerving.
Go through our guide to the best scroll saws for more information about these tools.
The components of a coping saw
It is easy to understand how a coping saw works since the tool has just a few components. So, you just have to install the blade onto the frame and then use the handle to make the necessary tension adjustments and start cutting the material.
Let’s take a closer look at the features of coping saw’s components.
The design of the handle is usually cylindrical and ergonomic which enables you to keep control of the tool during the cutting process. Most coping saws have wooden handles, although some models can have a handle that is made of rubber or plastic.
You can adjust the tension of the blade by turning the handle in a clockwise direction.
The tool’s frame is made of steel, and some models can also have an anti-corrosion coating. The frame of a coping saw is always u-shaped, but the distance between the edges depends on the model. At the lower part of the frame, you can find a pair of pins that enable you to fix the blade to the frame.
This is by far the most important part of a coping saw because it determines which materials you can cut. All blades for coping saws have the same length, regardless of the size of the model’s throat, and the standard length of blades for these tools is 6.5 inches.
However, the number of teeth per inch blades for coping saws ranges between 12 and 20.
The most common types of coping saw blades
The material you want to cut determines the type of blade you should install on a coping saw. These tools are used to cut wood, plastic, metal, or tiles and each material requires a different type of blade.
Coarse blades with a 15TPI rating are perfectly suited for woodcutting tasks as their coarse nature enables them to remove sawdust quickly so that you can make a straight cut easily. Blades with an 18TPI rating are better suited for curved cuts, although it will take more time to make a cut with these blades.
High-carbon steel blades
In case you would like to cut metal with a coping saw you are going to need a high-carbon steel blade because it is sturdy enough to cut through soft metals.
Tungsten carbide-encrusted wire
Tungsten carbide-encrusted wires enable you to use a coping saw to cut through tiles, bricks, and similar materials.
Helical teeth blade
A blade that has helical teeth is your best option if you want to use your coping saw to cut plastic.
When to use a coping saw
This tool is usually used to straight or curved cuts on thin pieces of wood, although if fitted with a right blade a coping saw can cut metals, plastic, or masonry. You can’t perform regular sawing tasks with these tools since their blade is too thin to cut through unprocessed lumber.
Consequently, coping saws are utilized during the finishing stages of the woodworking process, as they enable you to create coped joints, curves, or intersections.
This tool can also be very useful if you want to make a cut in the middle of the material since you just have to drill a small hole and thread the blade through it before tightening it to the saw’s frame.
Coping saws are hand-operated tools and it will take you a while to get used to making cuts if you don’t have previous experience using them.
The advantages of coping saws
Quick and easy setup
It takes just a few minutes to install the blade and adjust its tension, so you don’t have to spend a lot of time preparing for a cut with this tool. Even so, the duration of the cutting process depends on the material and the blade you’re using.
Highly accurate cuts
The tool’s thin blade can be adjusted to cut at different angles which enables you to make precise straight or curved cuts. Also, you can use different types of blades for coping saws to cut plastic, metal, and other materials.
You won’t have to spend more than $20 to get a coping saw, but you should keep in mind that most models come with just one blade that is going to wear out after a few cuts. That’s why you should also purchase a set of blades with a coping saw.
The disadvantages of coping saws
Limited range of applications
Coping saws are not versatile tools as they can only be used to cut through thin materials. Consequently, their range of applications is limited to the finishing stages of wood processing or shaping items made of soft materials.
Factors worth considering while choosing a coping saw
Although it may seem that all coping saws have the same performance capabilities, this is far from being true as the maximum cut depth or the cutting direction depend on the model’s features.
We’ve selected several factors you should consider while choosing a coping saw that will help you decide if a particular model is a correct choice for you.
The depth of the coping saw’s frame determines how far from the edge you can cut, so a model with a shallow frame depth is a good choice if you’re not planning on cutting materials near their edges.
Also, you should pay attention to the materials from which the frame is made since the models that are not made from steel are usually not very durable.
You should opt for a blade that has between 12 and 14TPI if you’re planning on using a coping saw to cut wood. Cutting tougher materials with coping saw blades designed to cut wood isn’t possible and you’ll need blades that are made from sturdier materials with a larger number of teeth per inch.
How well you can maneuver a coping saw, depends on the quality of its handle so you should search for a model that is equipped with a handle that fits in your hand nicely and enables you to choose the cutting direction.
The blade’s tension is adjusted with the handle which is yet another reason why you need to pay special attention to this feature. Also, the blade’s tension affects its ability to adjust to the material, so if the tension is too high the blade is going to break.
On the other hand, you won’t be able to make a cut if the blade is loose.
GreatNeck 28 – The best overall coping saw
In addition to being affordable, the GreatNeck 28 coping saw is also made from durable materials that can withstand heavy-duty usage. The steel frame is polished and it has an anti-corrosion coating that enables you to use it for years without damaging it.
The depth of the frame lets you make cuts that are up to 6 inches deep, while the blade can be rotated for 360-degrees which allows you to set the cutting direction effortlessly. This coping saw is compatible with all 6-1/2-inch blades and it comes with a blade that has the 14TPI rating.
The GreatNeck 28 weighs just 28 ounces and its wooden handle allows it to remain comfortable while cutting wood or any other material.
- Elegant and lightweight design
- Features a built-in 14TPI blade
- Anti-rust coating makes the saw more durable
- 6-inch cutting depth
- Can’t perform demanding sawing tasks
- Features just one blade
Smithline SL-400 – The best coping saw for professionals
The rugged but elegant design makes the Smithline SL-400 one of the best coping saws for owners of professional woodworking shops. The tool comes with four different blades so that you can switch between a medium blade when cutting hardwood and an extra-fine blade when working with softwood.
The Smithline SL-400 is not an ideal option if you want to make cuts far from the material’s edge, since its maximum cutting depth is limited to just 4-3/4 inches. This coping saw is made of steel, while the rubberized handle prevents slipping and allows for quick tension adjustments.
Also, this tool weighs just 9.6 ounces, and using it continuously for hours won’t cause hand fatigue.
- This tool comes with four blades
- Made from sturdy materials
- Compatible with all standard coping saw blades
- The tool isn’t heavy
- Can’t perform deep cuts
- No cutting angle adjustment features
OLSON SAW SF63510 – The best coping saw for DIY projects
You don’t need years of woodworking experience to start using the OLSON SAW SF63510 coping saw, since mounting the blade and adjusting its tension is a straightforward task.
The tool features two thumbscrews at the bottom of the steel frame you can use to install a 6.5-inch blade and set its tension level. This coping saw ships with a 15TPI blade, which means that it is ready to start cutting wood right out of the box.
Also, you can rotate the blade for 360-degrees and choose the direction in which you’ll be cutting. Holding the hardwood handle can get uncomfortable if you’re using this tool for a long time.
- Easy blade tension adjustment
- Sturdy steel frame
- 360-degree blade rotation radius
- Compatible with all coping saw blade types
- Small and uncomfortable handle
- Struggles performing demanding cutting tasks
Bacho 301 – The best high-tension coping saw
If you’re searching for a coping saw that can cut through virtually any material, then you should take a closer look at the Bacho 301. This model features a hardened and tempered carbon steel blade with a 15TPI rating that can cut metal, plastic, wood, and other materials.
Adjusting the tension of the blade is made easy by two retaining pins that are located at the base of the nickel-plated steel frame. The blade can also be rotated for 360-degrees which enables you to adjust to the demands of different projects.
The lacquered wooden handle provides a comfortable grip and allows you to keep control of the coping saw throughout the cutting process.
- Durable steel frame
- Changing or adjusting the blade is easy
- The handle doesn’t slip from your hands
- Elegant and modern design
- Getting used to this coping saw can take time
- Can’t cut materials far from the edge
Zona 35-670 – The best coping saw for novice users
Homeowners who want to make sure that they can cut through almost any material will benefit from getting the Zona 35-670 coping saw. The tool weighs just 0.5lbs, which makes it easy to handle and perform cuts that take a long time to complete.
This coping saw comes with a standard 15TPI blade, but you can easily replace it using the retaining pins that are located at the bottom of the frame. You can rotate the blade as you see fit, and use this tool to make cuts at the maximum depth of 6-1/4 inches.
The Zona 35-670 features a standard hardwood handle that enables you to have a firm grip on the tool at all times.
- The tool is light and easy to handle
- Simple blade tension adjustment
- Well-balanced frame
- Excellent price-performance ratio
- Questionable durability
- High maintenance requirements
Frequently asked questions about coping saws
Answer: The durability of coping saw blades depends on how often you’re using them and how hard are the materials you’re cutting. In most cases, you’ll be able to use a saw blade for several cutting sessions before having to change it.
Answer: Even though most models have a wooden handle, you can also opt for a coping saw with a rubber handle that may have better anti-slip properties.
Answer: Coping saws are designed to cut thin materials, which is the reason why they are frequently used for trimming or molding tasks. So, attempting to cut stock that is thicker than 2 inches is not recommended as the blade may break.
Answer: Yes, you can, but these tools have thin blades that flex easily which makes it difficult to maintain a straight line. It takes some practice and skill to perform a straight cut with a coping saw without breaking the blade or diverging from the straight line.
Our Verdict: What is the best coping saw for your workshop?
There are only a handful of tools that are more frequently used in woodworking workshops than coping saws. The level of precision these tools provide can’t be matched by electric saws that let you cut through material faster but with less precision.
A coping saw like the Smithline SL-400 will enable you to perform intricate curved cuts or even make cuts in the middle of material with utmost accuracy.
We hope that our article has shown you how to find the best coping saw. Which model are you going to choose? Let us know in the comments or continue reading our guide to finding the best chisels if you want to learn more about essential equipment for woodworking workshops.