We love the tools we use to make things out of wood, not only to satisfy ourselves, but to offer our creations to those who might enjoy them.
One of the hand tool we use is the coping saw.
A while ago I was in need of a coping saw for a small project I was working on and quickly realized I didn’t have one in the shop. For me, it’s not a tool I would use very often so I thought I would purchase an inexpensive one from ebay. It became easy to find one priced for just under six bucks, including four assorted blades and free shipping! How could I go wrong with such a deal? Shipping was fast, in my hands in a couple of days.
Using the saw I managed to make the cuts I needed when my intuition told me the saw could fail soon. Sure enough, second time use, one of the pot metal castings holding the blade snapped. Disgusted, the tool was rendered to the trash.
I searched around for a replacement only to realize that others being sold looked similar to what I just had, for a modest price. Geez, do I want a saw similar to what I got from ebay? Then I saw this new, fancy designed, made out of aluminum or titanium saw. Riiight, priced at a cool $150 or more.
Nope, that wasn’t in the budget for a tool I may not be using much. After that I figured I would try my hand at designing one for myself out of materials I may have lying around the shop. The rest of this write-up is what I was able to put together for a quick release coping saw.
Here’s what the quick release coping saw saw looks like. Notice the quick release lever on the right side of the saw. That makes it easier to change dull blades or inserting a blade into an alternate start point then re-attaching the blade easily.
The saw frame is designed to be lightweight, yet strong. For my saw I used hard, straight grained maple for strength. While the saw is quite rigid it’s total weight comes in at approximately 8 oz., alleviating wrist fatigue. The Swiss cheese look, plus the slim design, totals up for the low weight.
Un-assembled, the parts of the coping saw look like this.
All of the parts were cut using the band saw. Carpet tape was used to tack the cut pieces back onto the cut pieces, leveling them on the table while cutting the front profiles. Cardboard was also tacked to the outside to make up for the space left from the band saw blade.
Once the pieces were cut I market pilot holes, using an awl, guided by the templates for drilling the strategic “Swiss cheese” holes making the light weight feature of the saw.
Drilling the holes with Forstner bits from both sides to minimize any tear out. Thin disks were left behind with every hole drilled.
Care was taken to match the mating joints with a simple glue up of the end half-lap joints. A 1/4″ rod inserted through holes for the blade holding shafts indicated excellent line-up of the holes.
Once the dowels were trimmed flush, removing any band saw marks was easy with a block plane. I also used a cabinet scraper to further smooth the frame structure.
The steel rods used for holding the coping saw blades were cut to length, tapped, blade holding slots cut, and 1/8″ holes drilled for blade angle adjustment. Then finally tapped, including the 1/2″ blade release cross bar.
The handle is a sandwich of 3/4″ maple stock, clamped securely and drilled through the center where a a nut would be captured between the pieces.
The handle block, with the nut installed, glued together, was cut into a final hexagonal shape using the band saw’s table adjusted to a 45 degree angle.
I cut into the handle to the depth of the ferrule inside diameter with the band saw, carefully chiseling and filing until the ferrule fit snugly.
Final handle shape was achieved using files, block plane and a cabinet scraper. A lathe could have produce a finished handle quicker, but I don’t have one. Frankly though, I think I prefer the hex shape for this saw, as it feels positive in my hand, plus it’s shape is unique for a coping saw handle.
The finished handle. The ferrule is a cut-off of found steel tubing, but a brass ferrule or even copper piping would work just as well.
Here it is, finished. What is shown is my prototype of the Quick Release Coping Saw. This saw has been in the making for 3 months, ironing out all of its details. Since this pictorial rendition of the saw, there have been minor tweaks and refinements to make the saw as best as it can be.
I am pleased with how this quick release coping saw finally finished out. The blade tightens up nicely with a ring when plucked.