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Edge treatment with a router table

Jack Gordon - February 20, 2019 - 0 comments

When you look closely at just about any piece of furniture and you will find examples of edge treatments you can create with your router table. Table tops, drawer fronts and door edges all regularly feature some kind of molded edge. Even the rule joint used on most drop-leaf table designs is actually an edge treatment.

Simple edge treatments

The widespread popularity of the router in nearly every woodworking shop has led to a nearly limitless variety of router bits for creating decorative edges. You can use some of the basic bits shown in here to make effective edge treatments to dress up your furniture projects. Following are several other edge-treatment options.

Ogee bits are perhaps the most common edging bits you will find. In addition to the Roman ogee, there are double Roman ogees, classical ogees, ogees with fillet and many other lesser-known variations. Changing the diameter of the bearing that guides these bits can also alter the profile of the finished edge.

Cove bits are shaped like a quarter-circle and come in a variety of sizes. They can be used alone or in combination with other cutters to establish many different profiles.

Chamfering bits cut chamfers, one of the Simplest edge treatments. These bits are available in a wide variety of angles from as little as 11° to 45°. Various chamfer angles can also be used to cut multi-sided boxes: For example, a hexagon can be constructed by using a 30° chamfer, an octagon with a 22 1/2° chamfer, and so on.

Fingernail bits are oversized cutters with a profile that is part of an ellipse or an oval. You can use fingernail bits to create the soft, elegant, edges that are common to many large classic table designs.

Half-round (bull-nose) bits give you the same treatment that you would obtain· by making two passes over a round-over bit.

Beading bits have the same shape as round-over bits, but with a slightly smaller-diameter bearing. The smaller bearings create extra flat faces on either side of an ordinary rounded edge. Edge-beading bits come in a wide variety of styles. The most common put a bead along with a small reveal that adds both character and dimension to an edge.

Corner (side-beading) bits are similar to beading bits, but require two passes-one along the edge and the other along the face of the workpiece. The result is a bead profile that wraps the corner. This detail is often used on reproduction Shaker-style peg board.

Complex edge treatments

Once you have worked with simple edge treatments, you may feel the need to expand your repertoire into more complex profiles. One way to do this is by using a multiple-profile bit. Multiple-profile bits have a very complex profile. You use them in one or more passes: If you change the height of the bit relative to the workpiece, only certain parts of the bit cut on each pass. You can also cut different profiles in two or more pieces of stock and then assemble them into one large molding, as shown in the drawing at right. With this approach, the profiles you can cut are limited only by your imagination and ingenuity. Another way to achieve complex profiles is by positioning the workpiece at an angle to the bit. Changing the angle allows subtle adjustments in the profile.

The best way to gain confidence with edge treatments is to try as many as you can. Experiment with cutting depth and combinations until you have built up a vocabulary that suits the furniture and projects you are most likely to tackle.

Sometimes very simple changes can make a big difference in the look of the piece. For example, the two panels in the drawing below differ only in the location of the chamfer. The first panel, with its top edge chamfered, has a solid, massive feel. The second panel, with its bottom edge chamfered, looks thinner and more delicate. Learn to determine feed direction on a router table here, make raised panel door here, make rabbet cut and how to make molding on router table here.

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