|Review by Mike_D_S||posted 01-01-2017 12:19 AM||1283 views||1 time favorited||4 comments|
First off, let me say I don’t have a lot of experience with different models of coping sleds. I’ve used a homemade one and the Rockler sled my buddy has.
I had a WC gift card that I got for Xmas burning a hole in my pocket and had agreed to make a couple of dozen beaded panel cabinet doors for a kitchen remodel for a small farm house at my parent’s place. So when I saw the WP coping sled, I decided to pull the trigger as I had an immediate project.
After getting it home, first step was to unbox and assemble. The instructions are straight forward and easy enough to follow. I didn’t notice any steps left out or have any trouble following along. The parts are packaged in groups in separate plastic bags. For each step you open a new bag, so it’s easy to find just the parts you need to each step. It took about 20 minutes to assemble, but I wasn’t in a hurry.
The only critical part of the assembly is making sure the T-track that registers the rail is square to the base of the sled. The design makes this easy as there are two pre-drilled registration holes and two steel pins included to help you get the track section lined up correctly before tightening it down.
After getting it assembled, I spent a bit of time playing around with the setup. It’s fairly foolproof, you slip in a piece of stock between the base of the sled and the router fence. Then you adjust the clear guide on the top of the sled to rest against the fence and tighten it down. This insures the sled base and guide are running parallel to each other and that the rail will run smoothly along the fence.
One thing I had to do was add a taller fence extension. My JessEm fence has a slot right about the same height at the guide sits on the coping sled. I could have used it as it was, but there was some risk of the guide maybe hopping up into the slot which could be bad news depending on where the router bit was at the time. This seems to be a common problem for many of the coping sleds out there and I had seen posts on it, so I wasn’t surprised.
So now that I had it all set up, it was time to get down to business. I lined up the 48 rails and got busy. Double checked that the guide and sled base were parallel, then set the sliding panel which helps prevent the rail from torquing during the cut. The sled works as advertised and was easy to use. I checked the setup a few times along the way just to make sure nothing moved around, but didn’t have any trouble. It took me about 45 minutes of actual cutting time to cut all the rails, but I spent about 20 minutes in the middle making a few tweaks.
After using it for the hour, I found the sled was easy to use and though I was only making a basic tenon for shaker doors, I feel confident that I could cut a more complex rail without too much issue. There’s a rhythm to it and while the first rail took 1 full minute, by the end I was down to 30-45 seconds per rail. Compared to my homemade sled and the rockler sled, I really liked the handles being mounted up high on the clamping bar, just a more comfortable hand position for me and just that little bit further away from the bit.
So I give the sled 4 stars, as I think there were a few things that could be better:
1. If you use a sacrificial board to prevent blowout on the back of the cut, the board is held in by the friction between the clamped down rail and the back track. I found two things that annoyed me. First, the backer can vibrate up and down a little meaning the backer gets worn away a bit. I doubt that will make much difference for the simple cut I was making, but for a more complex cut maybe it could be an issue? But the real issue for me was that every time you slide a rail in or out, the backer board moves, so you have to make sure it’s pressed firmly up against the fence when you load a rail. I solved this as seen in the pic by adding a hold down clamp into the back track. This held the backer board firmly in place and eliminated both the up and down wander and the need to mess with the backer position every time. Im my opinion, they should just supply a hold down. At over $100 to start with an extra $5 on the price wouldn’t have made much difference to me.
2. The rail clamp is very secure without having to tighten the clamps too much. But it takes time to tighten and loosen the clamps each time to flip and swap rails. This sled could really benefit from some type of quick clamping solution. While some cuts probably need rock solid clamping, the pine rails I was cutting didn’t seem to require the full monty for the clamps, so I cut most of them using just the front clamp. I have some of the Kreg Bench Clamps and I’ll probably try to mount one next time I use the jig to see how it works. Like the hold down clamp, if they could have designed the clamping bar to have some kind of quick clamp, it would really speed up using the sled.
So overall, I like the sled and would recommend it. It’s pretty pricey, but solidly built and IMHO just better overall quality and usability that the Rockler sled which is about 60% of the price. It may not be the tool for a production shop, but for the recreational woodworker I think it fits the bill. The pain in my wallet was well balanced by how easy the sled was to use and how fast i was able to cut all the rails with excellent results.
Sort of long winded, but I didn’t see many reviews on the WP coping sled on LJs, so I figured I give it a detailed writeup.
-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......