What is a coping saw used for?

by Sam Wood | Last Updated: 27/10/2020

If you have ever laid skirting board or any moulding for that matter then you will have, hopefully, used a coping saw. A coping saw is used to create accurate mitres in shaped moulding.

What is a coping saw?

A coping saw features a large U shaped bow with a thin tensioned blade. They usually have a smooth round handle that fits in the entire palm. The rounded handle allows it to be turned easily in the user’s hand, this will enable you to cut curves easier and with more precision. They can be used to cut through wood, metal, plastic and even tile with the correct blade. The blade will be skinny and have shallow gullets which means it will not remove a lot of material at once. This is a conscious decision which allows for much more accurate cuts than would be achieved with large gullets. If you are thinking of purchasing a coping saw make sure to read our best coping saw guide.

Whats is a coping saw used for?

Jointing skirting

Without doubt, the most common use of a coping saw is in jointing skirting board. When your skirting has a pattern at the top, you cant simply cut a 45-degree mitre and expect a clean join. You need to cope the pattern out correctly to achieve a nice snug joint which won’t require tons of filler.

Coping skirting board diagram

Cutting shapes

A coping saw can be moved through wood with ease. This is why they are used for skirting, but it also means they can be used to cut any shape. The thin blade can be manoeuvred to cut pretty much any shape.

Accurate cuts

A coping saw has a skinny blade and requires accurate strokes by the user to function. Because of these features, you can achieve exact cuts when using one.

Metal cutting

With a good blade, usually titanium, a coping saw can make an excellent metal cutting saw for precise work and detailing.

Cutting shapes in the middle of objects

Due to the large U shaped frames on coping saws, they can cut objects out within the centre of a piece of wood or metal. This can be achieved by drilling a hole inside the area you want to remove. You then detach the coping saw blade, slide it through the hole, and reattach. You can now cut from the centre out.

What makes a coping saw different from a hacksaw?

A coping saw has teeth that point towards the handle and as such cuts on the pull stroke. A hacksaw has teeth facing the other way and cuts on the push stroke.

A hacksaw will generally have a much larger blade; they also tend to have a much smaller frame.

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Wood by name, wood by nature. I am a fully qualified, time-served, award-winning joiner with an NVQ Level 3 in Carpentry and Joinery as well as an HNC in Construction. Beyond my joinery qualifications, I have also earned a degree in building surveying. I believe these qualifications make me perfectly positioned to provide expert advice on many different areas of DIY as well as share all of the tips I have picked up in over a decade working on building sites!