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How to Cope Baseboard Trim with a Miter Saw

Coped joints for baseboard look great, but can be time-consuming. Instead of using a coping saw, learn to cope baseboard with a miter saw. It's faster and works great for common baseboard profiles.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

How to Cope Baseboard Trim with a Miter Saw

Coped joints for baseboard look great, but can be time-consuming. Instead of using a coping saw, learn to cope baseboard with a miter saw. It's faster and works great for common baseboard profiles.

Using a miter saw for cope joints

The usual way to get tight inside corners on trim is to “cope” them—to cut a profile on one part that will fit over the adjoining part. That means lots of slow, fussy work with a coping saw. Next time you have some inside corners to cope on standard 3-1/4-in. baseboards, try this method for doing the whole process on your miter saw. It works for ranch and Princeton styles. It takes a bit of practice to master the trick, but once you do, you’ll be able to achieve a perfect cope in less than 60 seconds and never grab for the coping saw again.

If you have a low fence on your miter saw, add a 1x4 (photo 1) to fully support the baseboard. Your saw has to be adjusted so it cuts perfectly square in the vertical direction. There will be wood shrapnel and your saw will be running for long periods, so wear vision and hearing protection.

Install base in the clockwise direction around a room if you’re right-handed and counterclockwise if you’re a lefty. That’ll be playing to your strong hand, and you’ll always be coping the same way joint after joint—no confusion.

Rest your elbow on the table or the saw miter adjustment arm for stability. Don’t try to get a perfect cope with the saw alone; you’ll be able to quickly clean it up with a file. And lastly, don’t take your finger off the trigger until you’re clear of the cut. The blade will plunge the instant you shut off the power and you’d wreck the cope.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

    • Miter saw
    • File

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

    • 1x4 temporary fence

Comments from DIY Community Members

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July 24, 6:22 PM [GMT -5]

GREAT INFORMATION...HOWEVER, I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT KIND
OF BLADE TRAVIS LARSON IS USING ON HIS MITER SAW.
THE ARTICLE DOES NOT MENTION IT AND I THINK THE BLADE IS THE KEY TO SUCCESSFULY CUTTING THE MITER.

RNL61@COMCAST.NET

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How to Cope Baseboard Trim with a Miter Saw

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