Collins Coping Foot

Collins Coping Foot

cope [kohp] verb1.to struggle or deal, especially on fairly even terms or with some degree of success (usually followed by with ): I will try to cope with his rudeness.

First a little disclaimer, Betsy doesn’t like these wonky carpentry posts but it is my post and I can get wonky if I want to.

I recently started using a Collins Coping foot to cope trim. Coping is the preferred way to join moldings that meet at an inside corner. To cope Copecuta joint you run one trim board and butt it to the wall, the next piece has the profile cut out of it and when it is in place the joint should match up perfectly. It works much better than mitering inside corners because it can compensate for the walls being out of square and for seasonal expansion and contraction. I have always thought a well coped joint is what separates good trim carpenters from the rest.

Typically coping is done with a small handsaw called a coping saw. I have used one of these for years and despite my love of hand tools I have never really loved a coping saw. They are all pretty flimsy affairs with crummy blades that seem fairly dull after the first cut. Cutting with one involves all sorts of awkward arm movements and body positions.

Another method that I have known of for a while is to fit a Coping foot onto a jigsaw and use that to cut your cope joints. Once you have Copedjointmastered it, a jigsaw with a coping foot is much faster than a handsaw. I have debated doing this for years but never really wanted to carry a second jigsaw just for cutting cope joints. On my latest crown molding job the coping foot finally won out over the handsaw and I gave it a shot. After cutting a couple of test pieces I felt that I had the hang of it and got to work using it for real. I installed 400 feet of crown and was happy with the cope joints. The key is to take the cuts slow and steady and not to cut too close to the cutline on hard curves. After the majority of the material is cut out you can sneak up on the cutline and then clean up the rest with a file and rasp. Unfortunately, using the jigsaw with a coping foot still involves awkward arm movements and body positions. Only now it all happens a bit faster. As long as the cope joints are tight and clean I guess I will just have to “cope” with it.