Coping with inequality

13 Nov

OK, it’s definitely not as bad as it sounds, unless you hate bad puns.
We’re in the process of installing crown moulding in the dining room. The first step of which was deciding what size and then choosing a profile. This involved a good 3 hour trip to the store. When we finally picked it all up and brought it home we knew we had a compound miter saw at out disposal so once we figured out the angles we’d be set. We spent a little time researching and figured out our bevel angle and miter angle, installed a fie tooth blade on the saw and made our first test cuts.
It took a little figuring out but we did it and put the two pieces together for a test fit and it looked perfect! It was a very nice 90 degree corner that had no gaps or anything. Just to double check I brought the sample into the dining room and put it up in the corner, it fit terribly! There was a huge gap in the lower corner. I went and got a framing square and checked to see if the corner was square. I’m sure it wouldn’t surprise anyone to hear that it is NOT square. The only surprising part to me was that ALL of the corners of the room were more than 90 degrees. It’s a little hard to comprehend how that is possible in a room with only four walls but I’m not gonna dwell on it.
At this point I decided we were going to waste a lot of crown moulding and time trying to figure out how to get the bevel and miter angles correct for the non-perfect corners, we were going to have to do it old school.
Coping.
Coping is the ancient art of fitting moulding corners not by mitering them but by back cutting the profile on one of the pieces to fit the other piece. It is actually not quite as difficult as it sounds, but it is time consuming and delicate work. Coping is accomplished through the use of the appropriately named Coping saw, which is a tiny blade stretched tightly across a deep bow so you cam turn sharp and get deep in to a profile.
The first step of coping is to cut the piece you are going to cope at a 45 degree angle on the miter saw while it is in its upside down position on the saw. This takes a little figuring to get it facing correctly. Once you’ve got that done you clamp the work piece to a table and go at it with the saw. After about 5 minutes I realized this would be easier sitting on a stool than hunching over from a standing position.

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Coping is one of those things that kind of doesn’t seem like it should work, but with a little sanding here and there it came together quite nicely. We haven’t started putting it up yet so we’ll see how it performs under real world testing but so far we’re pretty pleased with the results.

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(not the best picture, the lighting makes it look worse than it is)

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