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Forum topic by Artie623 posted 02-03-2019 06:43 PM 889 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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116 posts in 775 days

02-03-2019 06:43 PM

I’ve done some pocket screws, and some dado slot joinery…. pretty much always using glue as well. But as spring is coming (it’s cold here in Maine and I have an unheated shop) I’m looking forward to more “furniture type” projects. In one of the books I recently got they stressed a coping saw, a couple of planes, some specialty saws, and a biscuit joiner. I know there are inexpensive ways to approach anything… I was thinking on the DeWalt joiner, but do I really need an expensive coping saw ?.... Any other specific input would be welcome as well. Note:... I tend to buy pretty good stuff, and living in a rural area I like to have my shop pretty well equipped… but I don’t know much of anything regarding specific saws for finer woodworking. Thanks.

16 replies so far

View BFamous's profile


344 posts in 1035 days

#1 posted 02-03-2019 07:03 PM

I rarely ever use a coping saw; unless I’m doing base shoe or crown molding…

It really all depends on what type of joinery you want to do, and if you want the experience of doing them by hand instead of with power tools.

I’d say a jointer is just about a necessity to ensure your edges will line up. A planer is also good to have…

-- Brian Famous :: Charlotte, NC ::

View pintodeluxe's profile


6231 posts in 3728 days

#2 posted 02-03-2019 07:08 PM

Yes a biscuit joiner is very handy to have. You won’t use it in place of mortise and tenon joints, but you’ll find helpful little ways to use it on almost every project. Strengthening end grain joints on web dividers for dressers and night stands for instance.

No you don’t need an expensive coping saw. Spend 5 bucks at the local hardware store and see how often you actually use it. I use mine very little. Cleaning out between tenons on a breadboard end, but I don’t do that every day.

What a furniture maker really needs when they’re just starting out is a good way to make mortise and tenons.

Good luck

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Manitario's profile


2816 posts in 3797 days

#3 posted 02-03-2019 07:33 PM

A lot of new woodworkers that I see on LJ’s (including myself at one time) feel the pressure to buy certain tools based on the recommendations of others, either from this site or from woodworking books, articles etc. Often this leads to tool purchases that are seldom used or don’t perform up to task. There’s multiple threads on this site of tool purchase regrets. I’ve bought many handtools and power tools based on what I thought I might need eg. I have a great Dewalt joiner on my shelf at home that I’ve used once in 6 years.

My suggestion; find a nice project that you want to do with a new sort of joinery eg. you want to try dovetails for the first time or cut some mortise and tenon joints. Read about the many various ways to do the joint and buy a few tools based on what appeals to you. Eg. you want to learn to do dovetails by hand, you’re going to need some chisels, and a dovetail saw. From there you can decide if you’d rather chop out the waste or cut it out, if you cut it out you’ll need a coping saw.

Once you’ve decided what sort of joinery you want to learn, you can find a lot of great advice on this site on less expensive tools that still perform adequately.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View ArtMann's profile


1483 posts in 1730 days

#4 posted 02-04-2019 01:22 AM

I have been woodworking since 1975 and the only time I have ever used a coping saw was installing crown and baseboard molding. Maybe I missed something in all those years but I don’t know what other application i would have used one for.

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116 posts in 775 days

#5 posted 02-04-2019 02:13 AM

Okay… a cheap coping saw, if any. How about the biscut machinery…. I was thinking of going with dowels, but biscuts seem to be more forgiving… and I’m not trying to win contests here !.... then of course… do I hand cut dovetails or use a jig ? (I have a couple of routers… one table mounted).... boy, so much to discover… yup… I’m not looking to be a craftsman, just proficient enough so as that I can be proud of my work AND have some fun !

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16979 posts in 3533 days

#6 posted 02-04-2019 02:34 AM

If you want to explore serious joinery and discover the relevance of chisels and planes (and maybe even coping saws), I’d suggest a $15 investment in this book.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

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116 posts in 775 days

#7 posted 02-04-2019 03:13 AM

I’m a professional model builder by trade, so I tend to look deeper than many folks do on almost everything I get involved in (it’s not really a fun aspect of my life).... thanks for the suggestion. I may not master any of this… but I tend not to blow things off.

If you want to explore serious joinery and discover the relevance of chisels and planes (and maybe even coping saws), I d suggest a $15 investment in this book.

- Smitty_Cabinetshop

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16979 posts in 3533 days

#8 posted 02-04-2019 03:47 AM

Certainly didn’t assume you’d be blowing anything off. Enjoy the journey!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 3911 days

#9 posted 02-04-2019 03:51 AM

If your considering doing more serious joinery, you are headed in the right direction. Learning HOW to make the proper joints is part of a long lasting project. Once you learn the joints you can decide which “tool” will help do that joint easier.
All tools make things easier !
Learn how to sharpen your tools and you will be able to use almost anything.
(You will not need expensive tools if you can sharpen what you have)
A dowel, a biscuit or a Domino all do the same thing. They help align 2 pieces.
I prefer using as many dado’s or mortises and tenons when planning my projects.
Look at an old wooden chair.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View bondogaposis's profile


5889 posts in 3266 days

#10 posted 02-04-2019 04:07 AM

A coping saw, you’d mainly use for dovetails. You don’t need a fancy one, it is just to remove waste between the tails and pins. I paid less than $20 for mine. If I was starting out I would gear up for mortise and tenon joints first. M&T is the most common and useful joint in woodworking.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View shawnn's profile


152 posts in 2279 days

#11 posted 02-04-2019 04:34 AM

Loose tenon design might be an interesting lead-in for you to begin doing more advanced joinery. Create mortises with a router then make your tenon stock to fit. You can make good, strong, more professional looking joints and work up to cutting tenons as time/proficiency/tooling allows. I made mortise router guides from scrap material and used them before I bought the Mortise Pal.

View Woodknack's profile (online now)


13520 posts in 3294 days

#12 posted 02-04-2019 07:15 AM

I wouldn’t worry about what anyone says you need. Pick something to make and only buy what you need to build it. Really you can build a lot of furniture with just a few tools: chisels, some saws, something to drill holes with, and a router is nice. Like tenons, you can make them on a bandsaw, on a tablesaw, with a router, with a handsaw. Same for lots of joinery.

-- Rick M,

View LittleShaver's profile


706 posts in 1534 days

#13 posted 02-04-2019 02:27 PM

I get by with a few simple tools. A Japanese style backsaw (I forget the proper name), a dozuki and a few chisels will allow you to do most joinery. Add a couple of planes and you’re in business,

That being said, remember the old rule: Every new project requires a new tool.

-- Sawdust Maker

View Robert's profile


4148 posts in 2395 days

#14 posted 02-04-2019 02:52 PM

A coping saw for dovetails is optional. That said, sometimes I use one, but I learned to do DT’s from Frank Klausz and most of the time I do them his way. Its just a cheap one from HD. Pegasus blades. Lots of guys use a jewelers saw with a scroll saw blade installed.

I have both Veritas and Lie Nielsen saws. I’d rank the LN a notch above Veritas.

You need good chisels with low side bevel heights for dovetails and either mortise chisels or a set of firmer chisels for rougher work like mortises. A flat back fishtail chisel helps with cleaning up half blinds. Flat back fishtails can be hard to find. LN carries one.

If you want a top of the line combo IMO go with Lie Nielsen chisels and saw.

I like the idea of starting out with good tools. Starting out, I made the mistake buying cheap hand tools primarily because I didn’t think I was “worthy”. No, expensive tools won’t make you a master, but they will take a lot of the frustration and doubt out of your ww’ing because you can’t say “It was the tool”.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Artie623's profile


116 posts in 775 days

#15 posted 02-04-2019 06:22 PM

Thanks to all of you for inpujtting such informative approaches…. I will keep them in mind. I’m still a little befuddled as to the application of mortise/tenon joints…. are they more integral to furniture building or equally important for less “stressful” aspects of woodworking ? Thanks.

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