Ever entered a dedicated woodworker’s workstation? The router table with all the instruments set looks daunting yet so fulfilling.
Among numerous of his tools, one that might catch your eyes is the coping sled.
Yes, that’s the secret to every wood worker’s finished lap joints and perfect cope cuts at the end of the kitchen cabinet’s style doors and rails. And most professionals will say getting these jobs done without a coping sled is challenging, if not impossible.
So, either you have a designated router table and workstation for your woodworking projects or want to build one in the near future; learning about one of the most practical yet not so familiar tools will indeed be beneficial in the long run.
That’s why we have listed 3 of the best coping sleds to help you make an informed choice. Check them out.
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A coping sled can be a daunting purchase, especially if you are not aware of the features and specifications. And the market’s numerous options make it even more difficult to find the right tool.
However, we are here with detailed descriptions of some of the quality products that are sure to relieve you from all stresses before buying one.
1. Woodhaven 528 Small Coping Sled
Accuracy and precision are two of the priority feature you look for in a coping sled. And the Woodhaven’s 528 small coping sled stands out in delivering you the accuracy needed in cope and crosscuts.
The first notable thing about the product is that you can use it on both the shaper and router. It includes a miter bar; however, it can be used either against the fence or slide along with the miter slot.
Placing the stock won’t be a headache anymore as the tool has an adjustable 11-¾-inch steel miter bar. It allows you to mount at six different placements to let you find the right position to work at.
The next thing you want is firm control over your workpiece and also the sled. And there are two feed handles for that, which are adjustable as well.
The toggle clamp holds the stock with 500lbs force so that your piece is securely placed and ensures no room for flipping. It can accommodate a 6-inch-wide piece with a thickness of 1-¾-inch. Having a riser kit will allow working with 2-¾-inch stock as well.
Also, it has a phenolic base of 11-⅝ x 7-⅝ x ½-inch, a heavy-duty base that is sure not to distort with constant clamp pressure on it.
So, whether you need to make cross cuts, cope cuts, or lap joints, the coping sled will make the process a breeze. The durable construction ensures a lifetime guarantee against poor performance and material defects.
2. Woodhaven 526 Medium Coping Sled
We cannot help including another quality product from Woodhaven. And why not? The 526 Medium Coping Sled is the perfect combination of accuracy, perfection, and safety.
Unlike the previous Woodhaven, it comes with a wide 11-¾ x 11-⅝-inch base, a substantial ½-inch phenolic base that doesn’t flex out of flat.
Whether you are producing rails, stiles, or cutting edges for glue joints, the padded clamps hold it securely with a force of 500 lbs. Also, the adjustable miter bar, which can be positioned in six different places, can help you find the right spot. Thanks to the bar’s nylon adjusters, it suppresses slop and plays.
You can also use it without the miter bar, just sliding the base edge against the fence. The product functions exceptionally well when it comes to making raised panel doors.
Working with a small piece or larger one is another advantageous feature of the product. It can accommodate a stock as wide as 6-inch and ½-inch thick, and with the riser kit, it can handle one as thick as 2-¾-inch.
You will also have firm control over the piece and sled throughout the process with the two feed handles.
All these features make it a professional-grade tool to have at woodworking shops or home if you are an enthusiast in the field. However, the effortless setup and quick configuration make it convenient for beginners to use as well.
3. Fulton Rail Guide Coping Sled PRO
Cutting the stock edges to make door or drawer fronts is not that difficult. The challenge comes in holding the pieces accurately to have clean and undamaged cuts. And herein comes the Fulton Rail Guide Coping Sled, an exclusive tool to give the most smooth, precise, and clean profile cuts to the rail pieces’ end grains.
The sled holds your stock in the most secure way preventing all directional movement, front-back, sidewise and popping up or sliding out. The secure hold is only possible with the product’s large toggle pad and a fence. The fence is adjustable with an abrasive strip block, further preventing the stock from distorting from the specified place.
But it’s not only the firm hold of the stock that makes the product stand out; the clear acrylic fence is another. The acrylic fence brings two advantages. First, it acts as a shield and prevents the dust specks from spreading around, and it also ensures visibility of the process being transparent.
The second advantage is that it acts as a reference line along which you can run the coping sled against the router table fence. Make sure your stock aligns with the acrylic fence and the acrylic fence with the router table fence.
This also saves your time as you don’t have to adjust the router table fence repeatedly. Using the sled is effortless as well. The robust ½-inch thick MDF base slides smoothly over the table, and you can use the handles to guide the sled along the router table fence.
What Is A Coping Sled?
While you are making rail, style cuts, or lap joints, the stock must be held securely when sliding across the cutter. Any maladjustment in maintaining or an unsteady hold can damage the whole workpiece, leading to your projects’ failure.
A coping sled is a designed tool to hold the stock in the right place when you intend to make a delicate cut. Now it might not strike you as a must-have tool, but when it comes to producing style cuts or rails on kitchen or cabinet doors, it’s the sled’s firm hold on the piece that makes all the difference. Although it’s a one-purpose tool, the craftsmanship makes it an important one.
A decorative straight cut is otherwise impossible to achieve if you intend to use a miter gauge only or by freehand. And it saves you time also.
While making straight plane doors or other instruments doesn’t need much other than a handful of tools, producing cope cuts to achieve profiled, grooved, and smooth edges require a coping sled. It ensures the accuracy of the cut and provides safety. And most professional woodworkers do recommend getting a coping sled for efficient cope cuts.
Making Coping Sled at Home
If you are a woodworking enthusiast and love creating decorative workpieces and furniture at home, a coping sled comes as a valuable tool to have in your collection. However, if you are not inclined to buying one, you can make it yourself at home with the tools you have.
Below we present the steps to make a coping sled in brief.
Make the Base
You can select a 10 x 12-inch plywood board for the base and counterbore six holes measuring ¾-inch. Now use a ½-inch router bit to cut the board deep enough so that the hex bolt head sits beneath the surface. Then finish making the groove using a 5/16-inch bit.
Then you need to install the tree nuts into the counterbore holes.
Add the Handles and Stationery Fence
Next, install the handles on the specified two counterbores and add the stationary fence with two hex bolts measuring 1-½-inch. Then tighten the fence but make sure it is squared to the coping sled.
Add the Sliding Fence
To add the sliding fence, install a 1-½-inch bolt on the sled’s underside to the groove. You can use a washer for a better slide. To add the sliding fence, create a ½ inch hole in the middle. Make it slide over the bolt and add a washer. As the sliding fence is installed, you can now add a knob at the top. The knob is used for tight placing the fence where needed.
Add the Standoffs and Install the Guide
Use two 2-inch hex bolts for making the standoffs and make sure the female end is facing up. To install the polycarbonate guide, first drill two ¼-inch holes at a ½-inch offset, add it to the standoffs’ tops. Use ½-inch long hex screws and match the male end with the female.
Install the Toggle Clamp
The final step is to install the toggle clamp that holds firm the stock. It’s better to install the clamp on the stationary fence to prevent it from moving while making cope cuts.
FAQs about Coping Sled
What does a coping sled do?
Ans. A coping sled’s primary function is to maintain the accuracy of cutting by holding the stock in the right place, not to cause any injury or damage to the workpiece while making delicate cope cuts and other decorative cuts.
How do you cope with a sled?
Ans. Clamp the piece with the toggle clamp and guide it across the cutter smoothly by sliding against the fence or gliding along with the miter slot.
Can I use a miter gauge on the router table instead of a coping sled?
Ans. While meter gauges work fine to make simple straight cuts, making cope cuts is somewhat tricky with the tool. It doesn’t secure the piece as the coping sled does and uses the miter slot as the guide, resulting in inconsistent cutting or damaged grain edges.
So, for style cuts and rails, a coping sled comes as the most useful tool.
Is coping sled worth buying?
Ans. If you intend to achieve perfectly smooth and decorative cuts on your doors, furniture, and showpieces, we would say, yes, it’s worth it. The handy one-purpose tool does the job efficiently, quickly, safely, and most importantly, accurately.
Well, that’s a wrap-up on the best coping sled for woodworking. The quality list we presented in the article is a result of thorough research. We tried to incorporate all the essential things you might want to know about the useful handy tool. Read on and feel free to choose the finest one from the list. We assure you that it won’t disappoint you no matter which one you pick.
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