Tooling for Cope-and-Stick Doors

      Pros describe machinery and cutterheads for coped mortise and tenon door part machining. August 23, 2005

After reviewing several websites and books about passage and entry door construction, I am left with questions. I am keen to use long tenons (2.5-3" long) when constructing entry doors, but am at a loss as to how some folks are machining the cope and style detail where the rails and styles join with a 3" long tenon? Are they machining one side of the rail, flipping it, and machining the opposite side?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor D:
Cope tenons are done two ways conventionally. The first way is with the older single end American tenoners that have two horizontal heads that rough in the tenon, and then two vertical heads that final size the tenon, the shoulder, and cut the copes. Powermatic 2-A, Wadkin, Challoner and others made these machines. Cantek and Bridgewood now import foreign models.

The other way is with European single or double tenoners that have large diameter - up to 12"- cope heads. A large heavy shaper can handle similar cope heads, but one must have their wits about them when working with such tooling. Most people forget the real tenon and use the cope and stick as the mortise and tenon and just glue and clamp. Some might add a few dowels.

From the original questioner:
Is the traditional cope and dowel a sturdy enough joint to handle the extremes of the upper midwest? I suppose one could also investigate the use of a loose tenon as well.

From contributor D:
The short answer is that there is nothing like a nice stout tenon. Nothing beats it in strength or glue surface. As you get further up the manufacturing feeding chain, loose tenons, then dowels, then just cope and stick seem to suffice and be good enough.

From the original questioner:
I have built landscape structures and gates, arbors, pergolas, etc, for several years and am looking to expand my offerings to entry doors and shutters. It is sort of an everything exterior niche. I guess my cope and style issue comes from the images I've seen of others' doors and their use of stavecore construction. The inside edge of the rails and styles have a solid species shaped receptor groove in which the panel is to float. My question here is how might the rail mate with the style with this edge detail? I guess I could use a panel mould type thing and just go with old-fashioned stout tenons.

From contributor L:
If you don't have a tenon machine, and I don't, you can use what I call a stub spindle coping cutter. It is a shaper cutter that is welded on top of a 3/4" arbor for a shaper. It is a 3-winged cutter that has the profile of your cope, on the top of the cutter is only the flat edge of the carbide. You would first cut your tenon the size you want - a tad thicker on the cope side, and then run the stick like you would if you were making a normal cope cut. I should take a little meat off the tenon and put the cope in the shoulder of the stick. It is slow because you are doing one side at a time but it is substantially cheaper than a single ended tenoner. Below is a drawing of the stub spindle cope cutter.

Click here for full size image

"Drawing by Leo R Graywacz Jr".

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Solid Wood Machining

  • KnowledgeBase: Solid Wood Machining: Tooling

  • KnowledgeBase: Architectural Millwork

  • KnowledgeBase: Architectural Millwork: Custom Millwork

  • KnowledgeBase: Architectural Millwork: Doors and Windows

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2019 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article