Welcome! Forums General Woodworking Discussions Woodworking Methods and Techniques When to use coping saw vs. relief cuts + chisel?

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    Dave C

    Like the title says, when would one be preferred over the other?

    I’ve been making the small table from Paul’s videos, and he shaped the arches in the aprons by making a series of relief cuts, then using a chisel to remove the waste.

    I’m wondering why a coping saw wouldn’t be used, since I thought its main use was to cut curves?


    Stop cuts plus a chisel are much, much faster, but the technique is limited in how steep the curve can be. A coping saw is slower, but you can do very detailed shapes.


    I’ve made the table and did the aprons both ways. The chisel is much faster. The coping saw seemed to take a long time. I prefer the chisel method for that much waste to remove and the coping saw for smaller amounts or perhaps more detailed work where a chisel doesn’t fit. Knocking big amounts away and cleaning up with a spokeshave worked really well for me.


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