Safety Tips to Follow When Using a Coping Saw

A coping saw, as shown in the photo above, is a small handheld saw that's used to cut materials like wood and plastic. Some people assume there's little-to-no risk of injury when using a coping saw, simply because it doesn't use any type of electrical power mechanism. While it's true that coping saws are completely manual, they can still cause serious injuries in the form of lacerations or even finger amputations. So before using one, check out the following safety tips to reduce the risk of injury.

Protective Eyewear

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 2,000 workers sustain an eye injury that merits professional medical attention every day in the United States. Using a coping saw without protective eyewear only increases the risk of such injury. This is why it's best to err on the side of caution by wearing impact-resistant eyewear. It's a small price to pay for protecting your eyes from serious injury.

Inspect for Damage

It's also a good idea to get into the habit of inspecting your coping saw for damage before each use. Take a few minutes to look at the screws and fittings, checking to make sure it's not loose or otherwise damaged. A single loose screw, for instance, may cause the blade to slip out of place, which can subsequently cause injury by slicing into your hand. If your coping saw is damaged, refrain from using it until it has been fixed.

Materials Being Cut

Coping saws aren't designed to cut through all materials. Rather, they are intended for use on light, thin materials of 1 inch thickness or less. Attempting to cut through materials thicken than 1 inch increases the risk of injury, as the blade may slip.

Wear Gloves

You can further reduce your risk of injury when using a coping saw by wearing gloves. A pair of heavy-duty gloves will reduce the risk of splinters and lacerations.

Replace the Blade

While you can't necessarily sharpen a coping saw's blade, you can still replace it -- and you should replace it when it becomes dull. Over time, the blade will lose its sharpness, forcing you to push with greater force to cut into materials. Contrary to popular belief, cutting with a dull blade actually increases the risk of injury. So, if your coping saw has a dull blade, replace it ASAP to avoid injury.

Photo credit: Dale Simonson

Sep 12th 2016

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