Coping: A lost art?

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On Fri, 19 Sep 2003 15:40:54 +0000 (UTC), snipped-for-privacy@ptdcs2.intel.com (Kelly E Jones) wrote:

Mitering rather than coping the baseboard is a cheap way of going about things but might not be considered "wrong".
If the guy was hired as the low bidder and there's no specs written into the contract you may not have much of an argument. You would have a right to complain about the quality of the mitered joints.
A first rate coping job takes a little bit of thought. I usually run my squared end pieces on the most viewed wall of the room and then run the coped pieces onto these. This way, if the wood contracts too much, the crack line will not be as obvious to those using the room.
I also usually run a three piece base. The baseboard is most often a one by six and this gets butted. The cap can be one of several kinds of profile and it is coped. The cap can follow the dips and dives of the wall better than a solid base can. The bottom is usually a shoe or quarter round molding and this is also coped. The baseboard should be back primed and should be applied 'belly out', so that the top and bottom edge of the baseboard contacts the wall solidly.
Another thing to consider in running baseboard is the kind of nailing that you have. I always check the stud layout and make sure that I have good nailing. Too many guys use the air nailer and simply oppose the angles of the nails - but too many of the nails are in the wall covering rather than the studs. The baseboard should be nailed through the top edge, so that the cap will cover the nails. It should be nailed at the bottom so that the shoe or quarter round will cover the nail but the nails should not be on the same stud, in order to reduce the possibility of cracking the baseboard during dry spells. The shoe or quarter round should be nailed to the floor so that the baseboard can expand and contract behind it without cracking. However, if you have a hardwood floor, you must angle the nail so that it does not penetrate the flooring.
Also, the inside corners often have to be scraped out in order for the baseboard to get tight into the corner. Drywall guys often leave the inside corners with too much mud in them and, if the situation is not corrected, there will be gaps that allow for more wood movement than the joint can tolerate.
The outside corners may have to be tuned up as well. Less skilled drywall finishers will leave a hollowed area from the point of the metal corner to the un-mudded field of the wall. This will create a gap.
On runs greater than the length of the molding available (usually over sixteen feet) the joints should be mitered, glued and pinned. The outside miters should be glued and pinned. If the guy tells you that end grain gluing doesn't hold up, go on to the next guy. The glue is used to slow down the absorbtion of moisture into the endgrain. The inside joints have glue applied to the end grain for the same reason.
If the trim is pre-finished, you might want to ask how many different colors of putty will be used to fill the nail holes. If the guy looks at you funny, or says "one", go on to the next guy. I use a minimum of three putty colors on a clear finished job.
You can see that a mechanic who takes all of this into consideration is going to take a lot longer to do the job than a run and gun sort of guy. That translates into more money.
On those rare occasions that I am called out on a competitive bid, I show the customer my specs and ask that everybody else bid to those specs. That sometimes chases off the lowballers.
Regards, Tom Tom Watson - Woodworker Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania http://users.snip.net/~tjwatson
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// massive snip

Tom,
That's one helluva writeup on how to cope joints. I've saved this, as I'll be attempting to add molding in our (old) house at some point in the (hopefully sort of)near future.
Your post here is a prime example of how this newsgroup can be (and often is) one of the best resources on the net for woodworking
Thanks for taking the time to write this up.
Regards,
JT
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This is great advice Tom. I took a course at the local college last year on baseboards and I did learn a few things but you just taught me way more in a 60 second write-up. It's just to bad you didn't put it the form of one of your humorous stories - I get a kick out of those. I still go back and read that one about the Ryobi portable table saw once in a while for a good chuckle. Thanks for the advice and instruction. ---BeerBoy

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BeerBoy wrote:

El Guano... :)
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
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wrote:

I do the same. Nice pics on your site. Would like to see some of the detail a little better though.
Bossman

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