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Coping with Inside Miters

A time honored technique for applying molding to inside corners.

By Dave Munkittrick

The best technique for applying molding on an inside corner is called
a coped joint. Cabinet-makers have used this joint to create
great-looking inside corners for centuries. The technique involves
cutting a profile on the end of the molding that fits like a puzzle
piece against the adjoining piece (see above). 

To create the profile, cut a 45-degree miter on the end of the
molding (Photo 1), just as you would if you were going to miter the
joints. Then, use a coping saw with a fine-toothed blade to cut out the
profile (Photo 2). Only the simplest moldings will allow you to complete
the joint with one long cut. For abrupt direction changes, you’ll need
to back out of the cut and approach it from a different angle. Use files
to clean up the profiled edge and fine-tune the fit (Photo 3).

1. Make an inside 45-degree cut to create a profiled edge. The molding should be held upside down on the saw. A stop block clamped to the saw holds the molding in place.

Click any image to view a larger version.

2. Cut the profile with a coping saw following the profile line created by the miter cut. Angle the saw back about 30 degrees as you cut along the profile to remove more wood from the back of the molding. 

3. Files fine-tune the cut. Choose a file that matches the particular profile. File and test-fit until the joint is tight.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker September 2005, issue #116.

September 2005, issue #116

Purchase this back issue.


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