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If, like me, you like to do a bit of wood working DIY, dabbling in the art of carpentry, testing the waters making a fancy piece of furniture with so many curves and bends that it could have been made by the craftsman who made furniture for the Royal family themselves. Your determination to create such a masterpiece becoming a little over whelming so that you can not only impress your other half, you can also stand back and realise that you can actual create something that looks as though it's been made for the Queen herself, knowing that even she would smile if she was offered it, (and not in a sarcastic way either). Then you know that having the right equipment is the key to a great piece of work.
What I mean by that is that you can't exactly create a curved wooden masterpiece with a hammer, a piece of sandpaper and a hacksaw as none of those tools would give you that curved feature you're so desperately seeking. Although you could spend time hammering the curves into the wood with the hammer and then sand down any excess roughness to finish the job... but that may not create that perfect finish that you want really.
And there's one particular tool that can make even the straightest pieces of wood look like a stunning curvature of modern magnitude. That tool being what in the trade is called a coping saw... and it is a certain coping saw that I am going to waffle on about here, with this coping saw being made by a well known bloke called Stanley, possibly coming up with this one from his garden shed as he hid there away from his wife and kids, trying to get a bit of peace and quite from all the shouting and screaming that constantly erupts throughout his house. (we've all been there...I know I have anyway).
So Stanley went to his shed and started to make himself a 'shed' load of tools, (so to speak), and this coping saw is one of them, with it's full name being the Stanley fatmax coping saw.
(for the record... in this case Stanley is the name of the company and not the name of a bloke.... Although, to be honest, the original founders second names were Stanley, but not their first names as Stanley Stanley would be a bit of a mouthful, especially at school, unless you're Mr M. Jackson, then names can be as wacky as you want really)
* Firstly, what is a coping saw..?
If I told you it was a type of tool that helped you get through the day, coping with all those horrid tasks that are thrown at you, then you'd think I was a little on the loopy side... and you'd be right of course, as although it's called a coping saw it has nothing to do with coping. It is more a saw that lets you cut around corners a lot smoother and tighter than any other saw on the market, even a jigsaw.
Basically, It's a saw that lets you go around tight corners without the danger of snapping the blade.
And at the end of the day all coping saws look more or less the same as any of the others, this one included.
* What does this saw look like then..?
It is about 165mm long, excluding the handle, and about 170mm high, giving a good head height when it comes to cutting wood, and it weighs in at no more than 250grams.
The shape of the saw is not like any other saws, such as a 'tenon' saw or 'hack' saw, as they have a flat 'spine' which gives them there strength. A coping saw has a high 'spine' in an arch type shape fashion, and it is this 'arch' shape design that let's you cut around angles, even if it means cutting through the length of the piece of wood, without the 'spine' of the saw blocking the progress.
On one end of the 'arch' frame that is a handle which is attached by a thick bolt that can be screwed and unscrewed in order to attach/detach the blades. This handle is made of a firm plastic material, with a rubber covering, that tapers off towards the bolt itself so that it fits more comfortably in the hand. Then, on the very end of the handle, being inside the 'arch' frame, there is a little 'hook/catch' that one end of the blade sits in so that it doesn't move when it is cutting through a piece of wood. And to help you get a better grip of this bolt side there is a little rod of metal which also lets you see how far the blade is angled so you can adjust the catch on the other end of the frame.
The catch on the other end of the frame is similar to the handle side on but it doesn't have a handle on it of course, it just has the hook/catch and the metal rod so that the blade can sit in position without flying off the handle.
* Is it easy to use..?
If you can grip a round pole and pull it back and fourth then you'll find this a doddle to use. All you have to remember is to not put too much pressure on the blade, just let the blade do the work for you. If you put too much pressure on the blade then it will snap.
To use it all you have to do is fit the blade, make sure it's taut and at the angle you need it to be, then, once on the cutting line of your wood, you simply start pulling and pushing the blade along the line, letting the teeth slowly cut away the bits of wood. Then, after a while, depending on how much cutting is needed, you'll cut out lovely curves that resemble a super modals figure... (sort of).
You can also cut out pieces of wood that is harder to access, such as if you want to cut out a circle that is in the middle of a piece of wood but you don't want to cut into the circle from the edge of the wood. In other words, you want a hole in the wood without cutting through the sides.
All you have to do is drill a hole on the line of the circle you want to cut out, making sure the hole is big enough for the blades, notches to go through. Then you slide the blade through the hole you've drill and then attach the blade as before. This will then let you cut out the circle without cutting through where you don't want to.
When you've finished you simply release the blade and then take it out of the hole you've now sawn out.
* What about these blades then..?
These coping saw blades are something special. Unlike 'normal' blades, such as hacksaw blades, which are flat and designed to cut in a straight line, these blades are thinner, narrower and smaller, which makes then perfect for cutting around corners.
The blades used on coping saws have a range of what is called 'tpi', which is 'teeth per inch'. that simply means that per every inch of blade there are a certain number of little cutting teeth. The one I am using, and I think I use them most of the time, are 15 'tpi', but there are other ones with fewer teeth and some with more teeth. The amount of 'tpi' give a different finish to the cut, with more 'tpi' giving a finer finish and more 'tpi' giving a rougher cut. But at the end of the day there's very little difference in the finish so the amount of 'dpi' is pretty irrelevant unless you're into really really fine work on material that costs more than a Rolls Royce made of gold with diamond encrusted wheel trims.
* Talking of the blades are they easy to change..?
It's very easy indeed, as long as you can turn a handle then you can change these blades with ease.
To change the blade you simply un-screw the handle in a anti-clockwise motion, loosening it until the blade can be taken off the little catch that holds it in place. Then you take off the old blade and slot in a new one, making sure the little notch on the blade goes into the slot on the catch, this must be done on both ends of the blade in order to get the right tension on the blade.
Then it is a matter of turning the little 'handle' that is on each of the 'catches so that the blade is angled at the position that you need it to be in so that you can cut away without any troubles, and, once in the right position, you simply turn the handle clockwise until it tightens fully, which makes the blade go rigid, tense and ready for action.
And that's it. That's all there is too it... it's now time to start cutting the corners, angles and 'not so straight' cutting lines in the wood.
* What do I think of this coping saw then..?
This saw is without doubt one of the most useful tools when it comes to cutting around corners in a piece of wood, and believe me I've tried many different tools to cut around corners. Not to cut corners of course, I don't cut corners when I do a job, I cut around corners.
It is lightweight, easy to use and, due to the good height of the 'arch' on the frame, it can be used to cut deep into the wood. The frame is made of a strong steel and can take a lot of battering without faltering at all, even though it's nice and slim. So there's no worries about the actual frame snapping if you drop this onto a solid floor.
The handle itself is not the best construction on the market, in the coping saw world, but it feels comfortable enough in my hand and, due to the fact that it's not supposed to have too much pressure on it anyway, there's no hassles with using it for long periods of cutting.
Then there's the two 'grips', one on the handle, the other on the opposite side. These are designed to make fitting and positioning the blade as easy as possible, and they work a treat, letting you know which way the blades teeth are pointing with the two metal rods sticking up.
The blades are strong as long as they are treated with a bit of respect, they can get around corners easily enough, cutting circles, arches and even right angles with ease. But if you go to fast then there is a chance that the blade will shatter quicker than a mirror in Bo Selecta's bathroom.
When you're cutting something don't panic when you see them bending slightly as you're cutting away. If they do start to bend then just ease off the pressure a little.
* And the price of this corner cutter..?
This is the best part. The cost of this saw, which usually comes with at least one blade, is a staggeringly low £10. And as the blades can be bought for a few quid in packs of at least ten then this is one saw that doesn't cost the earth yet can cut the shape of the earth out of a piece of wood, if you want to that is. Although you'll probably have to sand the finished product down afterwards... (the earth not the saw??)
* Would I recommend this saw..?
Simple as that really.
If you need something to cut around a corner in a piece of wood then this will do the job and, at the low price, is well worth having in your tool box.
"6"" (160mm) / Supplied with 4 blades / 15tpi / Features: Tempered Steel Blade; Rubber Grip for Comfort & Control."