A coping saw will most often be seen employed to make more complicated and intricate cuts in carpentry and woodworking. A coping saw is a handsaw with a thin saw blade attached to a handle and a C shaped backing that keeps the blade itself rigid. The saw is shaped as it is so that the operator may remove the blade and pass it through a hole that has been drilled in a workpiece. Putting the frame into position, the blade is then reattached and work can begin from the inside edge.
The blade of the coping saw can also be rotated within the frame by loosening the holding pins. By retightening the holding pins, the cut can be made with the blade at any desired angle. Be careful to ensure that the blade is at the right angle when it is replaced. The operator can make intricate cuts in wood by slowly and gently adjusting the angle of the frame as the cut is made. For sharper angles, the angle of the blade itself may also require changing. Getting the right cut will take a considerable amount of practice, as using a coping saw for intricate work is not easy.
Coping saws have a more compact frame than fretsaws, and as such, also have higher tension on the blade. With higher tension, coping saws are able to cut through tougher material than a fretsaw. With practice, you may be able to make intricate cuts through materials other than wood, such as aluminum. A hacksaw may be better suited for this work, however, if one is available.
A steel “v-board” is often used in conjunction with a coping saw to secure the material that is being worked on. A v-board can make work with a coping saw considerably easier, as the board can be rotated to make the work more accessible, as well as holding the piece firmly in place while the work is done.
You will need a coping saw to do really professional looking work. Any kind cornice work, for example, will require a coping saw to have a professionally finished look. Without a coping saw, areas where two curved pieces are supposed to fit together will have gaps. These gaps are very noticeable and will make your carpentry work appear amateur. Coping work requires some practice, but it will pay off by making the work you do look professional.
Fortunately, coping saws are not an expensive part of your toolkit. Craftsman, for instance, offers a 6 inch coping saw for as little as $7.99. Stanely offers a similar model for $10.49 that also comes with 3 blades included.