Using Coping Jigs

If you've got a lot of trim to run, coping jigs and accessories can save you some serious time. June 28, 2007

I saw this coping jig kit the other day on TV and wondered if anyone has used one. To use it, you cut a small piece of whatever molding shape you want to cope and set it in a tray and fill the tray with fast setting epoxy. Then take it out, throw away the small piece and you're left with a mold of the profile, with two locating holes in it. This mold you just made then goes into a jig/fixture and is held in place through the two cast-in holes. Then you clamp in the piece of molding you want to cope (at 90 degrees) and using a router with a special colleted/bearing bit, you rout the profile in the end of your piece, following the pattern that you just cast. I think the jig may even have a little back bevel so the cope fits tight. Seems like it might work okay but you might have problems on a long piece of molding. May have to work horizontally.

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor D:
It seems to me that cutting the angle on the miter saw and back cutting with a coping saw would be faster.

From the original questioner:
For a few copes, yes. But what if you had 10-15 to do, or more? I'd want to see it in person. They claim to go from setup to first cope in 15-20 minutes.

From contributor H:
The day it takes me more than 3-4 minutes to cope a piece of moulding is the day I quit. And unless I'm way behind times... router bits are still round and copes usually require sharp clean corners somewhere.

From the original questioner:
You can cope a 4-1/4 piece of cherry crown where you only get one shot to get it right in 3-4 minutes? You da man!

From contributor M:
This may be a little off of the subject, but the one I have been thinking about trying is the jig that copes the joint with a jig saw. I thought it was called cope eze, but I couldn't find it when I searched just a minute ago. It looks to me like it would quickly knock the bulk of the material off and then you could fine tune by hand.

From contributor B:
What is the name of that jig? Does it do crown? I agree that if you have only a few copes to do, it would not pay, but a typical house has 80 baseboard copes. A two piece crown in a 20 bay coffered ceiling calls for a high speed production method unless you are working t&m and you want a forearm workout. 3 to 4 minutes to cope a 4" cherry crown does not seem out of line, providing you understand how to make the cut fit first time, every time.

From contributor W:
The Cope Master does the same thing but with a circular saw blade at an angle. This takes care of the issue of not getting a square cut with a round router bit.

From contributor Z:
Here is another jig to take a look at. I saw it at the IWF show.

From contributor J:
I would definitely get the Copemaster if I were doing a lot of copes. There is virtually no learning curve, and anyone off the street could be doing perfect copes very quickly.

From contributor P:
I have a hard time being convinced that using a router would yield good results. Coping is generally my least favorite process; it's crude by nature and takes tons of practice. Different materials and profiles can make a coping job a nightmare.

When I learned to cope it was on pre-finished cherry base and crown. The old guy that taught me said if you can do this, you can do anything. The tools used were several different coping saws, a Dozuki saw, files and a Dremel. Casings were usually coped in 2-3 minutes and crowns were closer to 5-8 minutes. I was always told most off the shelf jigs are gimmicks and it's better to learn the trade with traditional tools and methods first. Then make a decision if these jigs could help you. The Copemaster is no gimmick and is a serious tool. I could never justify it as most of my time is in the shop, not installing mouldings. Most people I know that do lots of coping all have different tricks and methods that they have honed throughout the years. I guess it is whatever works for you.

From contributor A:
Coping 3 1/2" Brosco ponderosa pine crown is a 3 minute project, but harder woods like poplar and cherry combined with a wider crown with lots of flats (versus curves) can take 8 minutes or more.

I ended up trimming a big house this summer. 6" poplar with lots of small flats and beads. I was able to sub a trim friend who happens to own a Copemaster. I rough cut the angles and lengths while he ran the coping machine. We did 1600l/ft in about 5 hours. I cut it all to 3" over final length. He billed me $200 labor.

That was one of the best decisions I made this year. If I hadn't had the use of that machine I would have mitered instead. The machine is a blessing for the trim guys who do big houses often. The router sounds too good to be true…

From contributor H:
Hey! That Copemaster thing is a tool I'd consider buying.

From contributor U:
The Collins Coping Foot is another option. It's $30 and with a little practice you can cope almost anything very quickly. 4" crown takes me about 3 minutes or less per cope after I finish fine tuning with a file. Pick up Gary Katz's videos on base and crown. The tool is demonstrated in both.

Dave Collins demonstrates coping crown and with practice it really is that easy. The router jig was discussed on another forum and it didn't do so well.

From contributor L:
The jig you are describing is called The Coper - it is for baseboards only (unfortunately) and I really like mine! The amount of time it takes for setup is very minimal. Yes, from setup to first cope is 15 minutes, then after that, each coped baseboard takes less than one minute for me. The setup time is mostly the mold curing and during that time I get my other tools and stuff ready for the day! And I can cope all inside corners of a room at once - before I even measure the length! Once that is done, my installation goes pretty fast. It includes everything you need to make the mold and the very small diameter router bit that gets into those tricky profiles. Leaving you with very little to caulk at the end of the day. Plus, the molds will hold up for many uses, so if you have a profile you use regularly - no setup necessary! It even says in the manual that if you wish to make the mold one you can use over and over again indefinitely, then transfer it to acrylic. Check out their website, it even has a video demo.

From contributor W:
Collins coping foot for 99% of copes; anything else is "all hat and no cattle" unless you need the Copemaster for those pesky bazillion sq. ft. installs.

From contributor S:
I like the Collins coping foot. I also like those blue plastic gadgets to prop your jigsaw on while cutting to your miter line. I stay back about an eighth of an inch from the line, though, so it doesn't get too delicate. If you have a knife edge, and bump the ladder or the corner of the wall, you lose a stick.

I finish up with a little ARO pneumatic pencil grinder. It is good for a quick touchup, if your 89 degree was really 88 degrees, or if you just didn't do something right. It really doesn't take lots of time to do the coping. Setting the miter saw to your theoretical angle, and going up and down the ladder to measure and check fit and stick it on the wall, is where your time goes.

From contributor O:
At the IWF show in Atlanta, I saw the CopeMaster on display. After talking to them, they asked me if I wanted to try it out. While only watching them run one time, I was able to cut a perfect cope in 6" crown in about 20 seconds. I was sold on them and am waiting for one to be delivered.

From contributor S:
I have started using a 3" sanding disc on a 90 degree pneumatic sander, to cope to the line I cut with my miter saw. It takes literally a few seconds to do. I prop the molding up in a homemade trough, to hold it at the spring angle, and I am done faster than you can read this, with no touchup required. Collins cope foot is good. This is better. I will never do it any other way, except under extreme duress.

From contributor I:
Any one that is serious about coping crown fast and clean needs this tool. I have never ever used anything that works as good. Read the instructions that come with it or you are wasting your time. It's called the Collins coping foot and it attaches to Bosch jig saws. Not all models are compatible, so be sure you have the correct saw. Also they recommend the Bosch T244D blades. One other tip when cutting crown; always clamp a piece of material to the miter table or use some kind of "crown stops" so that every piece you cut is sitting at the same angle on the saw. This will immediately eliminate any miters that don't seem to line up quite right.

From contributor S:
Collins coping foot is fine, and I used mine for 2-3 years, until I first used a 3" sanding disc, and I haven't used my jig saw on a stick of molding since.