Compass saw

A compass saw is a type of saw used for making curved cuts known as compasses, particularly in confined spaces where a larger saw would not fit.[1][2]

A compass saw


Compass saws have a narrow, tapered blade usually ending in a sharp point, typically with eight to ten teeth per inch,[2] but up to twenty teeth per inch for harder materials and as few as five teeth per inch for softer materials.[1] They have a curved, light "pistol grip" handle, designed for work in confined spaces and overhead.[2]

The blade of a compass saw may be fixed or retractable, and are typically interchangeable. Partially retracting the blade can prevent flexing and breaking when cutting harder materials.[1]

Compass saws are suitable for cutting softer woods, plastic, drywall, and non-ferrous metals.[1][2] The pointed tip of the blade can be used to penetrate softer materials without the need for a pilot hole.[1]

Comparison with other types of saws

Compared with other saws designed for cutting curves, such as coping or fretsaws, compass saws have a larger blade and fewer teeth per inch. This allows them to cut more quickly, and to cut through thicker materials, but leaves a rougher finish.[2]

Compared with drywall saws, compass saws typically have a longer blade – at 150 to 300 millimetres (5.9 to 12 in) – and more teeth per inch.[1][2]

Keyhole saws, also called padsaws or jab saws, feature shorter, finer blades and (often) straight handles, and are suitable for cutting extremely tight curves.[2][3]


  1. "What is a Compass Saw?". WiseGeek. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  2. "What is a compass saw?". Wonkee Donkee. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  3. "Keyhole saw". The Worlds of David Darling: Encyclopedia of Alternative Energy. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
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