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What is Cope and Stick?

Cope and stick is a construction technique that is used to join pieces of wood in cabinetry construction. It may also be referred to as stile-and-rail. The cope and the stick are the names assigned to the two pieces of wood that are cut using a router bit so that a smooth joint is created. This technique is most commonly used in making large frames for wood or glass panels. When used in cabinetry, this technique can be applied to intricate glass doors that exhibit a pattern. This is an advanced technique of construction that can require the application of advanced skills like executing a climb cut against the grain, so only journeyman carpenters will undertake this type of work. When done well, this can make a project much stronger but also more expensive.

The stick is a term used by carpenters to refer to the molded edge that is along the inside of a door or window frame. This type of edge is much more appealing than a square edge, but it creates a technical problem that requires joining molded profiles at the corners. This is where the cope comes into play. The cope is the recessed mirror cut that is put into the opposite edge so the stick can be seamlessly joined. The result is a much more ornate design, but the greatest advantage is the strength and tight fitting durability that this technique achieves.

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