The Difinative Crown Molding Primer #1: Coping with Crown Molding

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Blog entry by dryhter posted 07-26-2010 03:45 AM 8179 reads 2 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Coping with Crown

I was killing some time watching some videos at YouTube the other day and came across a bunch of videos about “How to install Crown Molding”, I felt many missed the mark. Crown molding has gotten a reputation of being difficult to install and I admit I have seen plenty of poorly installed crown, but with just a little bit of understanding and guidance almost anyone can do an admirable job. Part of the problem is just figuring out how to cut the molding. That topic will be dealt with in another video. You seem to be stymied before you even get started and your anxiety level goes through the roof. Another part of the problem is making the coped joint. Once you get the cutting part figured out you now have to use a joinery technique that you may have only heard of before. You might be tempted to use a mitered joint, don’t do it. This short video concentrates on making the coped joint.

The coped joint is the proper joint for any inside corner, and especially useful for crown molding due to it’s forgiving nature and ability to make minor corrections by rolling the joint (he, he, heh, rolling the joint, we need to talk about that later also).
Anyways, . …. The coping saw is probably one of the cheapest and safest tools you will buy. $20.00 will get you a good saw frame and spare pack of blades and the best thing is no cord. Kind of a one tasker tool, but it does that task so well and quickly. The learning curve is very flat, 4-5 practice run and you will be accomplished, 10-15 and you will be cutting copes like a pro. The only negative about using a coping saw is that it takes more skill to cope a straight line than a curved line and someone did say that their arm got tired(OH ,MY!). It is also clean to use (as are most hand tools, not throwing a lot of dust and chips all over the place), and portable (did I mention, no cord). I made a cope on some ¾ X 3 5/8 in. poplar crown molding in about 1 minute and 15 seconds using my coping saw. I have used the same saw to install 5 ½ in. oak crown with similar results.

I have heard of people suggesting to use and even using a jig saw, a grinder or table saw and my first reaction was “Are you crazy?’. I thought about it and after a while I just figured, that they just didn’t have a coping saw to use and were just trying to GET ERR DONE., I have been there and done that, sometimes you just have to be resourceful. If you are a novice woodworker DO NOT even consider using one of the other tools, the learning curve is steep, there is a safety risk and your results will be disapointing. And if you are a professional, well what can I say.

TAGS: crown molding, cutting crown molding, coping crown molding, woodworking, wood working, DIY, how to

-- Chips and Shavings/ see you at

19 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3819 days

#1 posted 07-26-2010 04:43 AM

Dave, the video does not play for me.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 3141 days

#2 posted 07-26-2010 04:52 AM


-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View JasonWagner's profile


527 posts in 3177 days

#3 posted 07-26-2010 04:58 AM

here’s what I do…use a coping saw to get pretty close to the cut, then get your dremmel tool out with a small sanding drum on it. You can then ease up to the line. this gives me a little leeway and some flexibility in my coping cuts…

edit: i would never trust a jig saw for this

-- some day I hope to have enough clamps to need a clamp cart!

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1229 posts in 3996 days

#4 posted 07-26-2010 05:18 AM

please re post the video.

-- Bob A in NJ

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1285 posts in 3734 days

#5 posted 07-26-2010 08:26 AM

This is the machine that really does speed up coping. It is the only way to go if one is doing a lot of it.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 3393 days

#6 posted 07-26-2010 02:45 PM

I have finally seen how the Master of Cope does it. In the first vid it was mostly watching the back of the Master’s arm moving, but as I continued watching, especially in the second vid it became crystal clear.

Thanks for the $20, minute-and-a-quarter coping solution.


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View dryhter's profile


74 posts in 3601 days

#7 posted 07-26-2010 03:18 PM

For some reason unknown, my video did not convert once uploaded to Bliptv. I edited the post with new links to YouTube and it seems to be working now. Being a novice with computers and associated technologies sure keeps me grounded when it comes to understanding how a newbie woodworker feels. Each problem is a learning experience every move tentative, and I want more.

I don’t know if it will help but it is possible to get a perfect cut, the first time. Try to think of the saw blade as if it were a one tooth file and you are not sawing but just sneaking up to the line just like you do with the Dremel tool. And make sure the blade is in the frame with the teeth pointing forward, so that you cut on the push stroke. The blade should be taught when in the frame. You can tune up the frame by taking it apart and actually spreading the two legs in order to get a little more tension and of course relieve the tensioning mechanism when not in use.

-- Chips and Shavings/ see you at

View dryhter's profile


74 posts in 3601 days

#8 posted 07-26-2010 03:34 PM

Hey Don,

I was going to try and edit that part, but then there would not have been much else to view, I’m glad you coped with the situation and stuck it out.

-- Chips and Shavings/ see you at

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4003 days

#9 posted 07-26-2010 03:42 PM

You do a little bit of volume in crown mould and you will gladly get out the Bosch jigsaw.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18269 posts in 3673 days

#10 posted 07-26-2010 07:07 PM

Great video tutorial. Just what I needed to know to finish our kitchen trim:-) Thanks.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View dryhter's profile


74 posts in 3601 days

#11 posted 07-26-2010 11:38 PM

Miles, Miles, Miles,

You kinda missed the whole point of the video. Coping is easy and after you do it a couple of times it is very easy. It is an easy skill that a novice wood worker can learn and feel good about. That skill is portable and can be taken into other area of woodworking.

But I do like a robust discussion: The only con I can think of for using a coping saw is that if you have an arm problem and can’t make the stroking motion required, then you may need to try another tool. Maybe a jig saw or a grinder, but they are heavier than a coping saw and would require a similar motion, so that is kind of a moot point. Maybe a table saw,OK for shorter pieces, awkward for long pieces. And if you use something like a dremel tool , I hope you are getting paid by the hour.

When I was trimming out houses I would save all the crown for the end and do it at one time. In an eight hour day,by myself, I could do 3 rooms on average, maybe 200 ln. ft of crown, some oak some poplar, usually 5 1/2 in.. Figuring at least four copes to a room, and two minutes per cope, let’s see X = ummmm Wow ! 24 minutes Please save me some time.

The coping saw is the best tool for the job easiest, quickest and most accurate. Prove me wrong.

-- Chips and Shavings/ see you at

View Apex's profile


9 posts in 2858 days

#12 posted 07-27-2010 12:44 AM

Coping is great when the room is out of square, When using mdf you do not have to cut real precise to your line as it will compress into a tight fitting joint.

Utah carpenter


View chrisstef's profile (online now)


17385 posts in 3004 days

#13 posted 07-27-2010 10:13 PM

Great post … if i only saw this about a week ago it would have easily saved me $3 in the extra tube of caulk i had to buy. But dryhter has it right, spend the time to learn it the right way and you wont forget it. Ill keep hackin’ and caulkin’ til i get it right.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View lwllms's profile


555 posts in 3279 days

#14 posted 07-30-2010 02:35 PM

I spent 25 years as a finish carpenter/architectural woodworker and I always set up the coping saw so that it cuts on the pull stroke. This offers a lot more control and longer blade life. I also hold the crown at the spring angle because it takes all the guesswork from how much back-cut is necessary for tight fitting joints.

View dryhter's profile


74 posts in 3601 days

#15 posted 07-31-2010 12:38 AM


I worked with a guy ( my partner ) for almost ten years, he was a pull stroke guy. As you may imagine we had many discussions during our time together even had races, never did settle that argument. He was a great guy and an exceptional trim carpenter. So I am not even going to go there, but I will say that if you are starting out in woodworking give it a try. It may be right for you

-- Chips and Shavings/ see you at

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