Thursday, January 18, 2007

Crisp edges on furniture feel sharp to the touch, and are vulnerable to nicks and dings, so most craftsmen use routers to shape edges to a softer profile. The roundover edge is one of the most popular. In fact, at this point, it has become so popular that you may be looking for something different.

A small chamfer is a great choice. It provides an edge less vulnerable to wear and occasional bumps. It can also be cut with either hand tools or router. I like the way the three distinct surfaces of a chamfered edge catch and reflect light, but this is an effect that can be lost through excessive sanding. Power sanding will ruin the effect at the slightest touch, so sand by hand with a sanding block to get the best results.

If using a router, it will work best and save time in sanding if you sand the edge of the stock first. Minor surface variations in the edge of the stock, create minor variations in the routed edge as the bearing follows the uneven surface. The amount of time spent sanding those routed surfaces will lead to loss of the fine detail a chamfered edge provides. The three photos that follow show the process.
Photo 1. Use a sanding block to sand the edge smooth in preparation for routing.

Photo 2. Rout the edge with the router moving from the right to the left to prevent edges from splintering. This is called a "climb-feed," but is perfectly safe with both hands on the handles of the router.
Photo 3. Hold the sanding block at a 45 degree angle and stroke along the edge. I think you will be pleased with the results.

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