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Thread: Does anyone make a decent coping saw?

  1. #1
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    Does anyone make a decent coping saw?

    I have a decent fret/jewelers saw that I like. Nothing special, but it works. I can't seem to find a decent coping saw. I need something for cutting shapes in wood about 1" and less thick. Usually around roughly around 5/8" or so. I have 2 or three kicking around, and all of them are miserable contraptions designed to twist blades into perfectly crooked shapes.

    What's out there? I'm open to almost anything. I may even pickup that small Gramercy bow saw. Maybe if Joel reads this he can weigh in how appropriate he thinks that is.

    I have other uses as well, but the specific application that's driving this is cutting guitar headstocks. I'm getting away from routing them out with a template and am moving more towards simply cutting them out by hand. I would cut them on the bandsaw except when I mark, I mark from the front side of the headstock as that's where all my layout lines are. With the headstock angle being what it is, it's pretty much impossible to cut it face up on the BS.

    So anyhow, that's what I'm looking for. Something decent that will happily cut out headstocks with a reasonable amount of precision. I only want to use abrasive tools to clean it up here and there, not establish the shape. Maybe I'm just unlucky with the coping saws I have, but so far they're been universally lousy!

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Did you look at Derek Cohen's review of the Knew Concepts fret saw?

    http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ToolRev...tsFretsaw.html

    It is not a coping saw, but it looks better. Besides, you can always knock the pins out of the coping saw blades.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  3. #3
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    Ugh, been there with the headstock shaping. I've been using a coping saw on my headstocks for while, and having a good one certainly makes like easier. I've been using the Olsen coping saw from TFWW and liking it; blade selection also matters here. I also happen to really like the Olsen blades, I've been using them for a while, even before using their saw, and it made the whole process easier. I liked the 18 tooth skip tooth blades a lot.

    Chris Schwarz had a bunch of posts about coping saws over at PWW (or maybe it was the Lost Art Press blog?) and I think the Olsen saw was the one he ended up liking, which may have been why I tried going with it when my old one finally broke. At one point I was contemplating trying a Stanley FatMax after a friend recommend one, but everyone I saw at the shop, the handle was not in-line with the frame, but bent at some weird angle. So far, I've liked the Olsen a lot more than whatever my old one was. It doesn't have the detents that some do to lock the blade at certain angles, but the adjusting mechanism functions from both ends which makes dialing in the tension and angle very easy.

    Just on a total lark; I've contemplated bandsawing the headstock shape out from above by temporarily mounting the headstock to a thick block of cheap balsa or rigid foam to elevate the head enough for the neck to clear the table. I haven't done it because I haven't actually sat down to think it through, but I'm pretty sure there's a bad idea and a good reason not to do that lurking in there...

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua Pierce View Post
    Ugh, been there with the headstock shaping. I've been using a coping saw on my headstocks for while, and having a good one certainly makes like easier. I've been using the Olsen coping saw from TFWW and liking it; blade selection also matters here. I also happen to really like the Olsen blades, I've been using them for a while, even before using their saw, and it made the whole process easier. I liked the 18 tooth skip tooth blades a lot.

    Chris Schwarz had a bunch of posts about coping saws over at PWW (or maybe it was the Lost Art Press blog?) and I think the Olsen saw was the one he ended up liking, which may have been why I tried going with it when my old one finally broke. At one point I was contemplating trying a Stanley FatMax after a friend recommend one, but everyone I saw at the shop, the handle was not in-line with the frame, but bent at some weird angle. So far, I've liked the Olsen a lot more than whatever my old one was. It doesn't have the detents that some do to lock the blade at certain angles, but the adjusting mechanism functions from both ends which makes dialing in the tension and angle very easy.

    Just on a total lark; I've contemplated bandsawing the headstock shape out from above by temporarily mounting the headstock to a thick block of cheap balsa or rigid foam to elevate the head enough for the neck to clear the table. I haven't done it because I haven't actually sat down to think it through, but I'm pretty sure there's a bad idea and a good reason not to do that lurking in there...
    I've did the bandsaw from the top twice. The first time, I sticky taped a block to the back of the headstock. It ended up being so tall that controlling it was a problem. It worked but it was uncomfortable. The second time, I made a little shelf around the blade. Again, it sorta worked, but it was very uncomfortable. Both times I was very nervous about having so much blade exposed, and there was just no way to do it where my hand wasn't in line with the blade. I've toyed with the idea of making a jig that would fit in the tuner holes to locate the pattern from the back, but ultimately I decided that I didn't want to make a neq jig for each shape, nut width etc...

  5. #5
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    I have the Gramercy bow saw and I love it. I dont know too much about what is involved in shaping head stocks, but I frequently use the saw to shape maloofy leg parts and it is a great (slower/safer) alternative to maloofy bandsaw cutting (which i admit i doing too frequently). The saw is very comfortable to use- it's surprisingly light and agile and is large enough to access pretty much any strange shaped part.

    I also have a Millers Falls 42 coping saw. It's a lovely little saw that can be a little fussy and also due to the "schwarz-oprah effect" is a bit hard to find at a reasonable price these days. With Olsen skip tooth blades (TFWW) it's a real zippy little saw (dovetails). The stanley fat max coping saw seems to a slightly less complicated/ cheaper saw which uses the same indexing grooves- as long as you dont mind plastic/rubber handles.

    The Knew Concepts saw looks like a pretty wicked saw. oooh titanium

  6. #6
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    I'm looking at the Knew Concept saw. I had actually kind of forgotten about them, but maybe that's the ticket. I didn't know that there was a FatMax version of the coping saw out there. I'll have to check them out too. I don't mind plastic handles, and in fact I tend to wrap a lot of my handles with tennis racket grip anyhow (strange, I know, but that's what I do). Many of the newer coping saws out there are really designed just as coping saws. They're very cheaply made, nothing lines up properly, and they are perfectly fine for making coping cuts on moulding and other rough work.

  7. #7
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    Not responsive to your question, but I'd think about using a spokeshave and/or small draw knife to shape headstocks, and for the necks, too.

    Pam

  8. #8
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    I certainly use a spokeshave for the sides of my headstock shaping. With all the endgrain, I could probably do more of it with a low-angle shave. (On the list for one of these days...) The weird curves I like at the top would be difficult (but are usually easy enough to pare to with a fine chisel or straight gouge; which is what I often do after making a few straight relief cuts) but I'd think the curves at the bottom would be a bit tight for anything but maybe a cigar shave.

  9. #9
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    I had the same problem (not with headstock, just coping saws). I ended up making a turning saw that would accept standard coping saw blades. I can tension this up quite a bit more than my coping saw.004.jpg

  10. #10
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    I had a great old one. Every time I finished a house I would carve a notch in the handle. Must have had it a long time as the handle was just notches, but it finally broke to the point that it could not be repaired. Have been looking ever since, and have bought a lot of old ones as well, but no luch yet. The best I have found so far was one I picked up at Sears, and it was made in the USA ironically, but is is still not the same as my old one......

    I do a lot of work these days with a Collins coping foot on a Bosch barrel saw.

  11. #11
    What a sweet saw! I made a bow saw last year that I simply love (lived In Fishers at the time). The bow saw form allows you to keep the cuts more parallel.

  12. #12
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    The frame is only part of the problem. IME, coping saw blades are only adequate. I'll make another plug for the Gramercy 12 inch bowsaw. Solid frame. Lightweight. Stiff. Agile. And the blades available for it make coping saw blades look like butter knives.
    Tim


    on the neverending quest for wood.....

  13. #13
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    Thank you all for the suggestions. I'm leaning towards the small bow saw, though I'm sort of lusting after the Knew Concept. Maybe I just need both to satisfy my curiosity.

    Tim: I hear what you're saying with the blades. They really aren't ideal, are they? I've found that even an inexpensive jewelers frame can get fantastic results using really great blades (3/0 that I'm buying in bulk).

  14. #14
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    I have this 6 inch curly maple bowsaw that is designed to take coping saw blades. Frame is stiff. Frame is light and agile.

    Can't find a really good blade.
    Tim


    on the neverending quest for wood.....

  15. #15
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    I bought a couple hundred coping saw blades years ago when I found some good ones, and I am down to 6. Guess I better get looking. The fret saws do not work when you have to be productive, I need the pins. If anyone finds some good ones post where you found them please.

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