Cut perfect cope-and-stick joints at the router table
I make a lot of doors with cope-and-stick joints. You have to have the fence aligned with the bearing on the bit for all of the operations, and when you are routing the ends of the rails the setup gets even trickier. For that operation, with both the miter gauge and fence guiding the workpiece, the fence not only must be lined up with the bearing but also has to be parallel to the miter slot. To get the fence set up precisely I’ve always had to make a series of tedious adjustments on each end.
One day, after getting the fence aligned, I had a brainstorm. I sized a hardwood runner to fit the miter slot, applied a bead of glue to the top, dropped a thin piece of plywood onto it with its edge against the fence, and popped a few pins down into the strip with my nail gun. I had just created an instant alignment guide, which works for all of the cope-and stick operations, plus other molding bits too. Now I just put the jig in place and push the fence against it while locking it down. It works for any router bits with the same size bearing. I don’t insert the bit until after the router fence is aligned, but if your fence won’t let you do that, just make a cutout in the jig so it will fit around the bit.
Joe Carretto, Corsicana, Texas
Drawings by Dan Thorton