Coping Chair Rail Molding

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 33,659
    Professional home improvement contractor Mark Clement demonstrates coping chair rail molding.

    Mark Clement: Hi! I am Mark Clement, licensed contractor and tool expert, here today to show you how to cope various moldings using the Dremel tool. Now I am going to show you how to cope chair rail. Now, all coped joints start with an inside miter, which we make on the miter saw. Set it to 45 degrees. We are going to make the cut. One of the keys to getting a safe and accurate cut is to make sure your miter saw, whether it's a hand tool like this or a power saw, is on a stable surface, molding is secure, and your fingers are well away from the blade. One more thing about handsaws. You might have noticed that my index finger is sticking out in line with the blade. That's an old timer's trick for helping the saw blade travel through the work more smoothly. It really works. Okay. We have got our inside miter, we have got a 45 degree angle here; the cut is square up and down. Now, I am going to show you how to make the cope using the Dremel tool. We have got our miter done and I have got my Dremel tool with the 801 Carbide Shaping Wheel. I will also use the 430 Drum Sander sometimes to get into some round contoured spots. Finally, don't overlook the importance of safety glasses. Let's get started. Now, with all copes there are two kinds of cuts I make. One is a cut off, which is only this little tiny triangle right here. That's the only piece of molding colored white that I remove. The rest of it is the wood behind the white, which I cut out. Let me show you how I do it. First thing I am going to do is turn the tool up to maximum speed for big stock removal. I am going to start my cope. I want to make sure that this is square like the rest of it. You will notice that I am going to cut at a reverse angle to the direction of my miter. The reason for this stock removal is that I want to relieve the back of this cut, so I can get a nice sharp front leading edge with no obstruction behind the wood. When the tool is running full speed, I only get close to my cut line. When I am making my final tuneups, I cut down to about high speed. You will also notice that when I hold the tool, I am using two hands. One holds the tool obviously, the other one is a stabilizer. If you have ever played basketball, you know you shoot with one hand and guide with the other; same thing, using my left hand as a guide hand. Slow and steady wins this race. Because you don't want to over cut. If you cut into where the wood is prime, that's going to leave an opening in your finished piece.

    To fine tune this contour, I have switched over to my 430 Sanding Drum. Now, this has a pretty decent grid on it, so I am going to go very, very easy, right up to the line.

    Okay. Let's see how we did. Hey, that is nice and tight. That's the way you want an inside corner; tight and stable. It's not going anywhere. Coping gives you that. It's an advantage over mitering. But there is also another advantage. You can cope all your ends in your workshop or out at your cut station and test them against the sample piece, so you know before you go inside the house if they fit or if you have to tune them up or not. So it helps you do some process of elimination work when you are actually installing the trim. Yet another time saver. So those are the basics of coping chair rail. Up next, we are going to cope crown molding.