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Wood Magazine

Cope and Stick


Start forming the tenons

Use a basic router bit in a new way to dress up those frame-and-panel doors.

Cope-and-stick joinery produces great-looking frames for cabinet doors, but you need specialized router bits or shaper cutters to do the job the traditional way. Those items don't come cheap. So we found a low-cost, low-tech alternative, based on a simple dovetail bit.

First, let's define some terms. "Stick" or "sticking" refers to the molded edge that's cut along the inside edge of the frame; pieces that meet that molding at a right angle must be "coped" to match the profile. Our technique replaces the usual round-over profile with a clean, simple bevel. It produces a subtle effect, not a dramatic one.

If you have a router, a router table, a dovetail bit, and a slot cutter, you can do it the way we show here. Begin by cutting the stiles to their final length. Lay out the rails by adding 1" to the final inside width of the frame. That measurement will allow for a 1/2" stub tenon on both ends of each rail.

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