Can a Coping Saw Cut Wood?

man in workshop with saws

Coping saws seem feeble if you go by their size, but they are usually more powerful than the average handheld saw. Hailed as the ideal cutting tools for detailing in general and sawing in plumbing, they’re often used to cut PVC pipes, saw fittings, and remove excess material length in slim proportions. But can its intricate cutting ability be leveraged in woodwork?

A coping saw can cut wood, as long as the sheet is not too thick and you patiently law the initial groundwork to saw through the first inch of wood. Coping saws can cut wood more precisely than most handheld saws and are often used for detailing.

In this article, you will learn more about this tool’s woodworking scope, including how thick of a block or sheet you can expect to work with and how much effort is required to saw a wood block with a coping saw. Among other things, you’ll learn about the different materials a coping saw can cut and how you can use this tool to saw wood more accurately.

How Thick of a Wood Can Coping Saw Cut?

Coping Saw impacts the smallest unit of wood at any given time, which makes it possible to cut deep into blocks of various lengths. The width of the block impacts the time it takes to saw it off but doesn’t hinder the saw’s ability to bite into the wood. However, at a point where the saw can’t cover the block, sawing with a coping saw becomes impossible because the sawing action is minimized.

Given that the length of the average coping saw is around six inches, you can cut a block of wood that is at most 3 inches thick. Blocks thicker than 3 inches are harder to see because the back and forth action doesn’t feature 3 inches of sawing action as long as the coping saw is not larger than 6 inches.

And while a larger saw would be able to bite deep into a thicker block of wood, it would require more force. At some point, the force you inject into the sawing mechanism is not worth the returns. This point of diminishing returns is reached before 3-inch thickness.

To make intricate cuts in wood without exhausting your energy, you must opt for a 2.5-inch thick wood at maximum. Thickness beyond 2.5 inches results in an exponential effort demand increase, but it doesn’t make sawing with a coping saw impossible. 4-inch thick sheets have been known to be sawed off with a combination of higher force with a longer coping saw.

How Do You Cut Wood With A Coping Saw?

To cut wood with a coping saw, you place the sheet, so the saw acts on it perpendicularly, move the saw forward a few times to create a slit, and bury the saw in the slit before moving it back and forth. As long as your arm position and sawing angle are accurate, you’ll achieve the perfect cut.

The Arm Position

If you’re sawing a 2-inch or thinner stock wood, you might use one hand to saw the wood with your coping saw. In that case, the back and forth action should remain in line with your elbow. Doing so will ensure that the wood is cut in a straight line.

As covered earlier, thicker sheets have a larger effort debt and require more energy. For wood pieces over 2 inches thick, you might need to use both arms, which is whether the hand position should be at the center and your arms should move back and forth in line with the center of your torso.

The Sawing Angle

The coping saw’s “U-shaped” frame makes it easy to notice the angle at which you’re sawing. If you’re sawing a curve, then it helps to have it penciled down on the woodblock. You should turn the frame, so it matches the path of the coping saw and slowing saw down along the penciled line to get the perfect cut.

What Materials Can A Coping Saw Cut?

A coping saw focuses all the sawing action on a very small area which allows it to cut through tough materials that larger saws cannot cut. Since these saws feature the same materials as many handheld saws yet create a slimmer area of impact, increasing penetration possibility, one can infer that a coping can see anything a handheld saw can.

A coping saw can cut PVC, common plastics, wood, vinyl, tin, aluminum, copper, and sheet metal. Some materials can blunt the saw, while others have zero resistance to the tool. Plastics and wood are the materials that can be sawed with the most ease.

Remember that the coping saw is, despite its precision superiority, a tool with its own limitations and drawbacks. Just because a coping saw can cut through a material doesn’t mean it is the best tool choice for that specific material. 

Even with wood, larger blocks are best cut with a power tool, especially if precision requirements span inches instead of being confined to millimeters. Knowing what a coping saw is good for is as important as using a good coping saw.

What is Coping Saw Good For?

A coping saw is good for cutting molds and making curved cuts in wood. It is also used outside of woodworking as the plumbing saw because it is compact and can fit a plumber’s toolbox, which doesn’t contain too many sawing and chopping items. A coping saw’s primary function isn’t its only function, though. It can be used for:

  • Create Coped Joints – Trim carpets use coping saws to create coping joints. 
  • Cutting excess pipe – Plumbers can use coping saws to cut cross-sections.
  • Create curved cuts in wood – DIY woodworkers use coping saws for this purpose.

Final Thoughts

A coping saw is a handy tool to have whether you’re a woodworker or a DIY Crafts allrounder. It helps in various situations but is best used for creating precise, curved cuts in sheets of wood no more than 3 inches thick. When using a coping saw, you must be patient and deliberate. Your arm position and sawing angle dictate the desirability of the end result.

Damien Madeira

Damien has been doing woodworking for the last 5 years. He began as a hobbyist with hand tools and slowly worked his way up to own larger machines and mill rough wood into beautiful creations. While still considering himself a hobbyist, he has a passion for woodworking and enjoys working with epoxy as well.

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