How to Use A Coping Sled on A Router Table

If you are working on a door that has to be decorative, you need a tool that can achieve complex cuts. With a simple table saw, you can only make simple doors. But using coping sleds will make your life easier when making decorative doors.

A coping sled is a tool that helps the woodworker make cope cuts, cutting grooves and profiling edges. It also makes sure the rails align correctly with the stiles. It ensures that the woodworker can cut across the end of the wood to build frames and panels.

Now, let us see how to use a coping sled on a router table to create perfect cuts for panels and frames.

How to Use A Coping Sled on A Router Table

There are quite a few steps one needs to follow to perfectly use a coping sled on a router table. They are :

1. Setting the Depth of Cut

The very first thing you have to do is to set the depth of cut between the router bit and the fence. To do this, you have to ensure the handle and stick’s bearing is perfectly aligned with the fence. Now, take a straightedge and put it on the bearing. Now keep adjusting it until it is a perfect match.

2. Placing the Fence

Now, lock the micro adjuster and do the opposite to the fence. After that, bring the fence forward a little bit ( 1/500th of an inch to be precise). Now, you will barely miss the bearing, resulting in the tongue of the cope and stick not interfering with the bottom of the groove, giving you a little glue room. It also makes sure that the joint fits perfectly on the outside.

3. Setting the Guide

Next, you need to set the guide to the fence. Take a scrap wood width of ¾ inch and put it against the fence. Then bring the coping sled’s base against it. Once it is in place, bring the guide against the fence and then lock it.

4. Setting up the Workpiece

Take the scrap wood out and put it behind the workpiece into the coping sled. You need to do this because routers tend to tear the backside of the cut-out while finishing. Putting the scrap behind the workpiece will protect the back. Now, bring both the pieces flush against the fence and lock the top plate and the pieces of wood. Now we are ready for cutting.

5. Cutting the Wood

Now comes the most important as well the easiest part of the job. Holding the sled with both hands, run it along the fence. This is all you need to do. Once you finish one end, don’t flip the wood to cut the other side.

Keep the upper side facing the same direction, rotate the wood, and make the same cut on the other side. If you flip the wood, you will cut the wood differently on different sides, which will undo all your hard work and you will need to do all the work again.

6. Making the Groove Cut.

You can make the groove cut before or after the coping cut; it doesn’t matter. While making a grooving cut, line up with the bearing again and line it up. This time you don’t need to bring the fence forward. Not using the grooving cutter, make the groove cut.

7. Setting up the Frames

Once you are done with all the cuts, join the frames together. If you follow the steps perfectly, you will see that the joints of the frame and the panels have come together exactly as they were supposed to. Now your door frame is ready for the raised panel.

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Coping Sled Assembly On Router Table


How can I safely use a coping sled on a router table?

To safely use a coping sled on a router table, ensure the router table is securely bolted to the workbench and that the fence is adjusted correctly. Before cutting, use a push stick to ensure your hands remain safe from the router bit. Wear safety glasses and use clamps to secure the workpiece to the sled. When making cuts, apply steady pressure to the sled and use a feather board to press the workpiece against the fence.

What type of router bit should I use with a coping sled?

The best router bit to use with a coping sled is a straight bit. Make sure you select one that is the correct size and shape for your job. If you are still determining the best bit, consult the router’s owner’s manual or ask an experienced woodworker for help.

How can I avoid kickback when using a coping sled?

To avoid kickback, always use a push stick or feather board to keep your hands away from the router bit. Ensure the router bit is sharp and in good condition and the fence is adjusted correctly and securely. Keep the router bit spinning consistently, and apply steady pressure to the coping sled as you cut.

How can I clean a coping sled after use?

To clean a coping sled after use, use a damp cloth to wipe away any sawdust or debris. Ensure to avoid getting the router bit wet, as this could cause it to rust. If necessary, use a small brush to get into any hard-to-reach areas. Once finished, store the coping sled in a dry area to avoid moisture damage.

Final Words

The very function of machines is to make life easier for workers. The coping sled fits this definition perfectly. Once you know how to use a  coping sled on a router table, you won’t need to look back again. You can make your doors as decorative as you want them to be without any hassle at all.

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