A coping saw is an essential tool for anyone interested in woodworking, carpentry, or DIY projects. It is a versatile tool that can be used to make intricate cuts and shapes in a variety of materials including wood, plastic, and more. One of the main benefits of a coping saw (jeweler’s saw) is that it allows you to make precise cuts that are difficult or impossible to make with other types of saws.
Making a coping saw is quite simple, which makes it a suitable project for beginners. The process involves making the frame, the handle, and the attachment for the blade. All the materials are inexpensive and easily available. Chances are, you already have all the required tools and materials in your workshop.
In this article, I will show you how to make a simple coping saw that is affordable and easy to make. Anyone with basic woodworking skills can complete this project.
One of the main advantages of a homemade coping saw is that it is much more affordable than purchasing one from a store, without sacrificing the quality of results. It is also very important to select and use the appropriate blades. The right blade will help you achieve the desired outcome without causing any damage to the material.
Read on to find out how to build a coping saw, tips for using it effectively, common mistakes to avoid when using a coping saw, and how to select the ideal blade for your project.
DIY Coping Saw Video
If you want to build your own coping saw, watch the video below for a step-by-step guide on how to do it.
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Table of Contents
- The Material you will need
- General Questions
- What are the benefits of making a homemade coping saw instead of buying one?
- What are some common mistakes to avoid when using a coping saw?
- How to choose the right blade for a coping saw?
- How to Make a Coping Saw
- Step 1: Build the Frame
- Step 2: Make the Handle
- Step 3: Attach the Blade
- How to Change the Blade on a Coping Saw
- How to use a Coping Saw
- Woodworking jigs used
*Safety is your responsibility. Make sure you know what you’re doing and take all necessary safety precautions while working with power tools. Safety comes first!
Always be cautious and careful when using any power tool.
What you'll need to build a coping saw
Coping Saw Frame
Plywood 1x – 13cm x 30cm x 1,2cm
Coping Saw Handle
Plywood 2x – 15cm x 3cm x 0,9cm
3x – 4mm brass pins
Coping Saw Blade Attachment
M4 Bolts, T-nuts, Washers
Drill bit 4mm, Router bit 6mm
Wood Glue, Forsner bits, Sandpaper
Wolfcraft Clamps, Spray Laquer
Japanese Ryoba saw
Proxxon Mini Table Saw
Dewalt Trim Router
Bosch Hand Drill
Makita Circular Saw
Makita Orbital Sander
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What are the benefits of making a homemade coping saw instead of buying one?
Making a homemade coping saw offers a range of benefits, including cost savings and the ability to customize the tool to fit your needs. Here are some advantages to creating a homemade coping saw instead of buying one:
- Affordability: Making your own coping saw will save you money, especially if you already have most of the materials in your workshop. Purchasing a new coping saw can be expensive, and making your own can be a much more affordable option.
- Customization: When you make your own coping saw, you have complete control over its design, allowing you to customize it to suit your needs and preferences. You can create a coping saw that perfectly fits your hand and has the required blade tension.
- Educational: Building your own coping saw can also be a great learning and crafting experience, as you will gain a better understanding of how the tool works and how to use it properly.
What are some common mistakes to avoid when using a coping saw?
When it comes to using a coping saw, there are several common mistakes that you should avoid in order to achieve the best results. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can make the most out of your coping saw and achieve precise cuts with ease.
- Applying too much force – using too much force while sawing can cause the blade to bend or break, so it’s important to let the saw do the work and guide it along the cutting line.
- Using the wrong blade – using the wrong blade for the job can lead to frustration and poor results. Make sure you select the correct blade for the material you are cutting and the shape you’re trying to achieve.
- Inadequate workpiece securing – not properly securing the workpiece can cause it to move around while cutting, resulting in inaccurate cuts. Always clamp or hold the workpiece firmly in place before sawing.
- Ignoring saw angle – not paying attention to the saw’s angle can cause the blade to veer off course and ruin the cut.
How to choose the right blade for a coping saw?
Choosing the right blade for a coping saw is crucial for achieving accurate and efficient cuts. When looking for a coping saw blade, important factors to consider include the material being cut, the shape of the cut, and the desired finish. For instance, if you are cutting softwood, a blade with fewer teeth per inch (TPI) will work best, while a blade with more TPI is ideal for cutting hardwood. The shape of the cut will also affect the blade selection, with fine blades being used for intricate shapes and coarse blades for rougher cuts.
Here are 3 of the best coping saw blades you can use for your projects. All of these blades work fine and will help you achieve great results.
- IRWIN Tools Coping Saw Blades – great for rough cuts and can handle a variety of materials, with 17 TPI and hardened carbon steel construction for long-lasting durability.
- Pegas Swiss Made Double Tooth Coping Saw Blades – feature a unique tooth pattern that provides a smooth finish and is perfect for cutting materials up to 1 inch thick.
- Olson Saw PG49802 Precision Ground Scroll Saw Blade – a premium quality blade that is ideal for intricate cuts, with 46 TPI and a narrow kerf for improved accuracy.
I personally prefer the IRWIN Tools Coping Saw Blades. They are affordable, very easy to use, and provide excellent results. The blade is perfect for rough cuts, which is what I typically need. After using them for some time, they showed to be quite durable and long-lasting. For the majority of cutting I do, these are sufficient.
Let's start building!
Making a coping saw involves making the frame, the handle, and the attachment for the blade.
The frame and the handle are made of Baltic birch plywood. The handle of the coping saw is designed to fit comfortably in the hand, with a secure grip, and is decorated with end grain plywood shaped into a herringbone pattern. The blade is attached to the frame with washers, nuts, and screws.
The overall dimensions of the coping saw are 13cm x 30cm x 2,5cm. The blade length is 11cm and the projection is 10,5cm.
Coping Saw properties:
- Material: Baltic birch plywood, screws, t-nuts
- Total dimensions: 13cm x 30cm x 2,5cm (5.12 x 11.81 x 0.98 inches)
- Blade length: 11cm (4.33 inches)
- Projection: 10,5cm (4.13 inches)
This is a simple woodworking project for complete beginners. You can easily complete the coping saw on a weekend.
NOTE: The most important part of the build is the installation of the blade. The frame should be sturdy enough to provide the necessary support while also being flexible enough for easy blade mounting. The blade must be mounted straight with appropriate tension. Considering these factors, I opted for plywood as the preferred material. Aluminum or steel would work as well but are more expensive and less available.
How to Make a Coping Saw
Step 1: Build the Frame
Draw the design of the coping saw frame on the plywood desk and cut it out. There are several tools I used to cut out the shape – a circular saw with a guide a jigsaw together with a straight-edge guide, and a Japanese Ryoba saw. Honestly, the only tool you need for this is a Jigsaw.
Once the shape is cut, sand the edges and round the corners to get rid of splinters.
TIP: Drill a few holes in the corners before cutting out the shape of the frame. It will make operating the jigsaw easier and prevent the blade from getting stuck in the wood.
To install M4 T-nuts onto the frame, begin by drilling two holes. The first hole should be shallow and made using a Forsner bit. The second hole should go all the way through the frame. Once the holes are drilled, install the T-nuts and ensure that they are flush with the surface.
Optionally, you may trim the excess wood from the opposite side of the T-nuts. Doing so will allow space for the washers and the blade to be sunk into the frame and sit flush with the surface. Be careful not to hit the T-nut though!
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Step 2: Make the Handle
You can make the handle as simple as possible or give it a nice touch, as I did. Either way, it will work as intended since, after all, it is just a handle. 😉
The handle is made from end-grain plywood shaped into a herringbone pattern.
Cut several plywood strips. The best way is to use a table saw with a crosscut sled. After cutting the strips, glue them together with the end grain facing upwards. Allow the glue to dry, then use a sander or sled to smooth the surface.
Cut the strips to size and glue them onto the handle. Next, drill several holes through the handle and insert brass pins, applying epoxy to secure them in place. Allow the epoxy to cure and then remove any pin protrusions.
The brass pins not only add a nice touch to the handle but also hold all the handle pieces securely together.
Shape the handle using an orbital sander and sandpaper strips so that it nicely fits in the hand. As for the finish, apply spray lacquer to the handle. This will provide protection and bring out the herringbone pattern
Step 3: Attach the Blade
To attach the blade to the coping saw, make use of the T-nuts. Place the blade between two washers and secure it with a screw. The washers serve as a “vise” and will hold the blade securely in place.
- It is much easier to install the blade when the coping saw is mounted on a vise.
- Firstly, tighten the lower screw, bend the frame a bit, and then tighten the upper screw. You will end up with a straight and tightly secured blade.
How to Change the Blade on a Coping Saw
The steps provided below describe how to change the blade on a coping saw. Refer to the included video for a better understanding.
- Fix the frame of the coping saw into a vise. (Preferably a wooden vise to prevent damaging the frame)
- Loosen the screws that are holding the blade in place.
- Insert the blade, making sure that the teeth are facing downwards – towards the handle of the saw.
- Tighten the screws to secure the blade in place.
- Bend the frame slightly to get the right blade tension.
- Make sure the blade is straight and not bent.
- Check the blade is installed properly and tighten the screws.
- Adjust as needed after several test cuts.
TIPS: Tighten the lower part of the blade first, bend the frame slightly, tighten the upper part of the blade, and tighten as needed. That will ensure the blade is securely tightened in the frame and provides the right tension. (This tip applies specifically to this DIY coping saw. It might be different for other coping saws).
How to Use a Coping Saw
The steps provided below describe how to use a coping saw. This is a simple guide for beginners.
- Make sure the blade is securely tightened in the frame.
- Secure the workpiece in place to prevent any movement.
- Position the blade at the place of the cut, with the teeth facing towards you.
- Slowly begin sawing with a steady motion. Make sure the blade is perpendicular to the material being cut.
- Follow the cut line with the saw blade. Adjust the angle of the coping saw as needed for curved cuts.
- Continue sawing until the cut is complete. Sand the edges to achieve a smooth finish
TIPS: Do not force the blade or apply too much pressure on it while cutting. Let the blade do the work. When making curved cuts adjust the angle of the coping saw a bit earlier. The width of the blade determines how fast the blade can turn/follow the cut line.
Homemade Coping Saw
Other Jigs used for this project:
Although it may seem that a lot of jigs are necessary to build the coping saw, that is not the case. The jigs are not essential for the build but they help a lot.