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Woodpeckers Coping Sled - easy to use, but could use a few tweaks

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Review by Mike_D_S posted 01-01-2017 12:19 AM 2248 views 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Woodpeckers Coping Sled - easy to use, but could use a few tweaks Woodpeckers Coping Sled - easy to use, but could use a few tweaks Woodpeckers Coping Sled - easy to use, but could use a few tweaks Click the pictures to enlarge them

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.

Mike

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......




View Mike_D_S's profile

Mike_D_S

271 posts in 1935 days



10 comments so far

View RichTaylor's profile

RichTaylor

1320 posts in 309 days


#1 posted 01-01-2017 05:10 AM

Great review. I chose another brand over Woodpeckers for a small sled because their web site lacked the information I was looking for. Your review cleared it all up. I’m still happy with the choice I made, but you’ve convinced me that Woodpeckers would have been a great choice too.

For the interior door rails I make, I made my own sled. I couldn’t find anything even close to what I needed to handle that thickness of lumber.

-- No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

View MrMongo's profile

MrMongo

3 posts in 397 days


#2 posted 01-01-2017 07:48 PM

Thanks for the great review. I just got one of these sleds as a Christmas present, so you timing was great. I like the idea of adding the extra clamp for the sacrificial board.

-- Steve, Plainfield, IL

View OggieOglethorpe's profile

OggieOglethorpe

1276 posts in 1830 days


#3 posted 01-02-2017 12:14 AM

I use a strip of double sided tape to hold the backer in place…

No more futzing! It would be nice if the manufacturer had provided a method to hold the backer, like a grip strip, screw holes…

View EarlS's profile

EarlS

465 posts in 2068 days


#4 posted 01-05-2017 06:25 PM

The quality and ease-of-use of everything I’ve ordered from Woodpeckers has been a step above what you get from the big retailers like Rockler.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View Steven Perkins's profile

Steven Perkins

2 posts in 67 days


#5 posted 06-14-2017 05:11 PM

It is a well built and designed coping sled, but I have rail/stile bits that require no adjustment when switching between them. Using the sled now requires a 3/8” adjustment to account for the sled base. I view this as a drawback. Are there similar concerns and has someone developed a fast and precise set-up adjustment to account for that difference?

-- SG Perkins

View RichTaylor's profile

RichTaylor

1320 posts in 309 days


#6 posted 06-14-2017 05:21 PM


It is a well built and designed coping sled, but I have rail/stile bits that require no adjustment when switching between them. Using the sled now requires a 3/8” adjustment to account for the sled base. I view this as a drawback. Are there similar concerns and has someone developed a fast and precise set-up adjustment to account for that difference?

- Steven Perkins

Since you mention base thickness, I assume you’re referring to a bit set that doesn’t require any height adjustment when switching. How does that work, or did I misunderstand something?

-- No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

View Steven Perkins's profile

Steven Perkins

2 posts in 67 days


#7 posted 06-14-2017 06:52 PM

Sommerfeld Tools makes matching router bit sets for rail/stile and panels. When I say matching, they have engineered the shaft length for each bit to eliminate repeated test cuts and fine-tuning adjustments. Use the rubber grommet and drop the bit in the collet and it perfectly aligns. I have a Sommerfeld shaker panel set and another brand. The latter requires those repeated trial adjustments. With the WP coping sled the object of the Sommerfeld matching set is defeated.

-- SG Perkins

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RichTaylor

1320 posts in 309 days


#8 posted 06-14-2017 07:19 PM


Sommerfeld Tools makes matching router bit sets for rail/stile and panels.

I wasn’t familiar with those. I assume there’s no way to adjust the cope bit so it drops in higher to account for the sled.

Like I said in my post back in December, I have a different brand sled. What I do with all of my bits — after getting them adjusted with test cuts — is measure from the router table top to the top of the bit (usually the screw, or a repeatable and accessible point on the bit) with a digital height gauge to record the proper setup. I write that down and store it with the bit set. I still do a test cut to be sure, but it never requires adjustment.

I do the same thing with things like round over bits. For locked miter bits I came up with a simple formula based on the board thickness for the bit height and cut depth in front of the fence. Again, I still do test cuts, but it’s always right the first time.

-- No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

View Mike_D_S's profile

Mike_D_S

271 posts in 1935 days


#9 posted 06-14-2017 07:25 PM

Steven,

I use UHMW plastic set up blocks that I make once I dial in a setup. I make them from the UHMW sheet like you get at Woodcraft. When I get a new bit set, I’ll cut a square about 3×3 from the plastic. Then I get the bits set up correctly one time for say 3/4 stock and cut the profile of each bit on one side of the square.

Later, I use the squares to do the initial bit height setting and typically they will be dead on or require only a very slight tweak. I’ll either put two sets on the opposite sides of the square or for slot cutters, I may have different stock thickness on each side.

But to answer your question about the WP coping sled, you could make up a small 3/8” spacer from a dowel to drop in under the grommet for the rail coping cuts. This way you get to keep the self positioning system but still use the WP sled.

Mike

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

View Mike_D_S's profile

Mike_D_S

271 posts in 1935 days


#10 posted 06-14-2017 07:33 PM

I was typing when Rich sent his reply, but I also like his idea of just doing the measurement directly. If you were to pick up the iGaging snap check router height gauge you could pretty easy solve the problem that way by adding the thickness of the sled base to the normal height.

And here I thought my setup block solution was so slick…....

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

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