5 Best Coping Saws for Precise Cuts

best coping saws
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The coping saw is one of the most versatile finishing saws you will find, and the best coping saw needs to be lightweight and well balanced for that very reason.

This basic saw has little room for innovation and improvement, so making sure you are getting quality materials and a sturdy frame are probably the most important tips for purchasing a coping saw.

Spending a couple of extra dollars on a high quality saw is always going to work out in your favor though, as cheaply made saws may bend, break, or frustrate you to no end.

Like other saw types, keep in mind that the blades you use will have an effect on the quality of the cuts, and look for blades with high tooth counts when you need to do precision work.

See Also:  Best Japanese Pull Saws

Our 5 Favorite Coping Saws

ProductBlade LengthCutting DepthTeeth
robert larson coping saw reviewRobert Larson 540-20006"5"n/a
coping-saw-reviewsOlson Saw SF635106-1/2"4-3/4"15/inch
bahco-coping-sawBahco 3016-1/2"4-3/4"14/inch
irwin-tools-coping-sawIrwin Tools ProTouch 20144006-1/2"5-1/2"16/inch
stanley-fatmax-coping-sawStanley 15-104 Fatmax6-1/2"4-3/4"15/inch

Coping Saw Reviews

#1 – Robert Larson 540-2000 Coping Saw

robert larson coping saw reviewThe Robert Larson 540-2000 is a superior coping saw, made with tried and true German manufacturing excellence. Even though the frame is lightweight, it’s still tough enough to take jobsite abuse without being damaged.

Designed as a precision wood cutting tool, it works well for woodcrafting, trim, or any number of home or job projects.

When kept properly tensioned, the blade teeth will provide you with a straight, smooth cut and can even be used to clean the tear-out left behind by larger, more powerful saws such as handsaws or even bow saws.

The blade can be turned up to 90 degrees to allow even more complex cuts, including dovetails and other joints. And since this model uses blades with or without pins, you’ll have more options for replacement blades. A maximum 5″ cutting depth is slightly better than most of the competition.

Where negative comments are concerned, there are not many issues that come to light. An occasional piece may make it through the inspection process with a faulty chrome application, but the tool is simple and well designed, leaving little room for problems.

It might be nice to have the option of tightening the blade from either end since the handle adjustment can be tricky, but the handle adjuster is more common than any other method. Similarly, it may take a little practice to get the hang of properly tensioning the blade, but it will be easy after a few changes.

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#2 – Olson Saw SF63510 Coping Saw

The Olson SF63510 takes the adjustable blade to another level, giving you a full 360 degree turning radius. It’s also even lighter than the Robert Larson model, however also more likely to bend under extreme treatment.

The 6.5″ blade has 15 teeth per inch and a 4.75″ cutting depth. This model will also allow you tighten the blade from either end, making it easier to tension the blade correctly and reducing “drift” in straight cuts.

The biggest problem you may encounter is that this little gem is designed for light applications such as coping joints for pine trim, and may not work as well for hardwood or complex operations where a motorized scroll saw or band saw.

Some people have reported that the dual tensioners are hard to get used to, affecting the quality of initial cuts, but this is not actually a fault in the tool.

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#3 – Bahco 301 Coping Saw

bahco coping sawThis 6.5 inch coping saw is built to last. The frame is made of nickel-plated steel and has excellent tension. An orange lacquered beech handle is both attractive and durable. Meanwhile, the blade is made of high quality hardened and tempered carbon steel with 14 teeth per inch.

Blades are fitted using retaining pins and remain tight and sharp after numerous uses. As with many other coping saws, you can adjust the angle of the blade for precision cuts.

You can’t go wrong with Bahco blades, which are both durable and sharp. Add to that the excellent quality of the frame and you’ll be hard pressed to find a better coping saw. Both new and experienced craftsmen have found it to be one of the best saws out there.

While this saw is of an overall excellent quality, it isn’t for everyone. Some professional users may find the tension isn’t much better than cheaper brands, although this isn’t an issue for most users. In fact, the Bahco saw provides maximum safe tension when added to a properly sized blade.

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#4 – Irwin Tools ProTouch 2014400 Coping Saw

irwin tools coping sawWhen you want speed, comfort, and durability, Irwin Tools is one of the best hand tool brands out there. The steel blades have 16 teeth per inch for super clean cuts and the saw a generous 5.5″ max cutting depth.

DuraSteel pins keep the blade in place while the Flat-Bar frame ensures good tension. Best of all, the ProTouch handle has an ergonomic design to make long days in the workshop seem like you’ve only been at it a short time.

This saw can really take a beating and still cut like a hot knife through butter. When properly maintained, it will last for years and provide the same quality as it did on the first day.

You may wish to upgrade the blade at some point (it’s not typical Irwin Tools quality), but the stainless steel one included is good enough for most tasks.

Irwin has a reputation for quality, which is why we were surprised to hear of one user who received the saw with a bent frame. Whether this issue is from poor quality control or the result of a problem with packaging or shipping is unknown.

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#5 – Stanley 15-104 Fatmax Coping Saw

stanley-fatmax-coping-sawYou can’t get through any serious list of top tools without including at least one good budget option and the Stanley fits the bill.

This addition to the Fatmax product line has a plastic and rubber handle with ergonomically designed cushion grip. The 6.5″ hardened, tempered carbon steel blade has 15 teeth per inch for smooth cutting power.

The Fatmax has a much stiffer frame than much of the competition. Even more impressive is the locking mechanism which helps keep the blade at 45 degree angle increments for a steadier cut.

Add to this the slightly larger, cushioned handle, and you can easily tell why this is a favorite among weekend hobbyists and even some professionals.

There have been several issues with the handle of this saw. While the handle itself is of good quality, many owners have complained that the handle tends to twist during use and in some cases will break off of the frame. As this problem appears common but not universal, it’s possible that the issue is caused by either a couple bad batches or some form of user error.

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It’s important to understand the uses for a coping saw and when it should take a back seat to the fret saw. These two points are where a lot of first-time users will run into problems, as the answers aren’t as apparent as with many other tools.

What is a Coping Saw Used For?

Coping saws are precision tools used for finishing details. They’re often used to cut crowning or dovetail joints, but are most commonly used to create coped joints on moldings.

The thinness of the blade lets it be used to create small curves as well as straight lines in the hands of a seasoned carpenter. Also, while not as efficient as its cousin, the fret saw, coping saws can be used for some fretwork.

Coping Saw vs Fret Saw – What’s the Difference?

fret saw use
fret saw

At first glance, these two tools look very similar – and indeed, they can be used for many of the same tasks. However, fret saws have finer blades and work much better when doing precision work.

For example, coping saws will work just fine for dovetails in thicker pieces of wood, but are terrible with thin materials. This level of detail work is where the fret saw will truly shine over its cousin.

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