End-grain milling can be difficult. The stock tends to
walk, angling forward or backward instead of staying at
right angles to the fence. In addition, the leading corner
can dip into the bit opening in the fence.
A coping sled solves these problems. It holds a rail
securely during a cut and backs the cut to protect against
tearout. The sled doesn’t rely on a miter-gauge groove,
and it is large enough to bridge the opening in the fence.
The comfortable handle provides a sure grip on the sled
and keeps your hands out of harm’s way.
The router bit mills the sled’s fence. This isn’t a problem
as long as you use the same sled with the same bit and
height every time. In fact, it helps set the bit height.
Because these sleds are easily made from materials in your
scrap bin, you could have a number of sleds on hand for
various bits. An alternative is to install a strip of scrap
wood—3/4-in. square pine would work nicely—between
the fence and the workpiece and let the router chew it up.
Or simply replace or rotate the 3/4-in. plywood fence.
To use the jig, make sure your fence is set flush with the
cutter bearing. Position the workpiece on the sled. For
incremental cuts, hold the piece slightly back from the
edge of the sled for the first cut. Then reposition the
piece flush with the sled base. Hold the sled firmly against
the fence while you make the cut.
Use 1/2-in. stock for the base so the toggle clamp’s
force won’t distort it. Make the handle from doubled up
1/2-in. birch multi-ply or from maple. If you use maple,
pay attention to the grain direction; it should move diagonally
across the handle profile to minimize short-grain
weaknesses. Trace the profile of a bench plane handle
onto the handle blank. Cut out the handle on the bandsaw
and file and sand it smooth. Install the handle at an
angle so that during operation the pressure is naturally
applied into the fence as well as down on the sled.
Apply a thin coat of paste wax or shoe polish to the bottom
of the sled. Let it dry and then buff it to a high shine.
This will virtually eliminate friction between the sled and
Lee Valley, leevalley.com, 800-871-8158,
DeStaco toggle clamp, #88F05.01.