Trying to cope

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and how to do it. May 15, 2002

What does the term "coping" mean, as in coping crown moulding?

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Coping, in crown moulding, is the art of backcutting one piece and making it fit tightly against the other's profile. When shrinkage occurs, the usual gap from a miter type joint will not appear.

If you really need to accomplish this task, you can nail one piece of crown up with a square cut on the end. Cut an inside mitre on the piece you want to cope. This creates the line you want to cut to. Remove the wood carefully until you get a tight fit. You have to back bevel your cut fairly drastically depending on the profile. Practice first.

Fine Homebuilding offers a book and video on trim installation written by Craig Savage. If you are a novice, I'd suggest getting a hold of reference material, find a pile of old trim somewhere, and have at it.

I think it's safe to say that learning how to cope requires doing it wrong before you can do it right ;)

I heard of an attachment for your jigsaw that would do this. Also, I saw a guy using a scroll saw with a spiral blade.

I've got the Collins Coping Foot, and it really is a handy attachment for a sabre-saw. Let's me do some really weird angle copes on steep crown.