Cope-Cutting Jigs and Machines

      Carpenters swap experiences using various machines and tools to cut copes in a volume production situation. October 25, 2007

I am thinking about buying the Copemaster that has been discussed on this forum in the past. The video worked awesome. Has anyone bought one recently, and if so, how do you like it?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor D:
I have one. It is alright - nothing to write home about.

From contributor B:
I've had mine for 2 years. Used it today to cope crown. Makes perfect copes in about 45 seconds. I don't use it much, but when I need it, it's fast and easy.

From contributor R:
I also have a Cope Master. Since opening my shop, it doesn't get used much, but when I was doing trim full time, it was a time saver. It's for production trim, not just doing one room. Setup time takes about 30 minutes to get a left and right cope pat ready (per moulding). So if you're doing small jobs, it's not worth the setup time. You can hand cope faster. If you are doing a complete trim job, then you do one type of trim through the house all at the same time, then you change to a different moulding and repeat process. I just finished a job on which we let the owner cope all the pieces and he had no woodworking experience at all. He had a blast and I got some cheap labor. We would pre-cut our pieces and let him have it. Stayed right with us.

From the original questioner:
Thanks everyone. One more question. If there were several different custom molding types and the molding manufacturer supplied a computer generated template of the cope (not knife shape, as geometry would be somewhat different), would that cut down on setup significantly?

From contributor T:
This is a little off your question, but I bought an Easycoper a while back. It was fairly cheap, there is no 30 minute set up, and after a little practice, I could cope a perfect joint in less than a minute.

From contributor A:
To the original questioner: the answer is no. Basically, you cut a perfect cope with a saw, files, etc. This is the pattern/template for making all the other copes. If you think of the machine as a key cutter, having a drawing of a key is useless. If you are planning on trimming big houses with complicated crown, and lots of it, then the Copemaster is a match made in heaven. I'm lucky enough to know an excellent trim carpenter who will charge me hourly to bring his Copemaster to my jobsite. $250 to cope 1600 l/ft of 6" poplar crown. Best money I spent last year.

From contributor I:
A template takes 2 to 10 minutes to cut once it is painted black and the miter cut put on it. This is for someone proficient with the machine. Once the templates are done, it only takes 2 minutes to switch from one profile to another. The key to doubling your production is to cut (or have your apprentice cut) 20 or 100 left or right copes of a profile. Then installation from a coped pile goes very quick. Simply measure, cut, and install. The machine is not for 5 or 10 copes because of its size to carry around and set up, but some guys are doing single copes and scribe cuts freehand on the machine very quickly. It is all a matter of getting comfortable with a new machine or tool. The other benefit is all the copes fit, since they are all duplicates of the template. If the template is correct, all of the crown copes will fit first every time.

From contributor J:
Nope, don't have a Copemaster. I looked at it seriously for a while and settled on a Collins Coping Foot instead. It took a bit of practice, and I still can't do it like the guy at the woodwork show, but it's certainly worth the money and a dedicated Bosch jigsaw! I'm a cabinetmaker, not a trimmer. Hauling, setting up, and using the Copemaster seemed like too much effort.

Collins also makes an awesome miter clamp. They're similar to those expandable "C" shaped jobs with the pointed ends, though much more well-designed. You can get them on and off by hand, but the pliers are worth the (overpriced) $30.00. I bought a dozen at a show and ordered a hundred more.

From contributor M:
I've always used my Bosch jigsaw, with a Porter Cable T119BO blade. Those blades seem to work the best; the teeth are a little jagged, but they're the easiest to turn, and fillet out the trim right up to the profile. As for holding it down, I use a piece of pine, or a piece of the trim upside down, onto it, using a vise clamp, to snap it down.

From contributor M:
Oh, and in case you're wondering, to cope with a jigsaw takes some practice. Obviously, you don't want the base of the jigsaw touching the trim (trashing it). I use my left thumb and index fingers to hold the base off the wood about a 1/2 in. It seems real awkward at first, but after awhile you get used to it.

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