Carved accents and ornamentation have been a feature of fine furni­ture for centuries. Traditionally, these details were etched with painstaking skill by master carvers wielding a bat­tery of gouges, chisels and files. While a router cannot duplicate the finely detailed work of a skilled carver, it can still produce impressive results with far less effort and training. With the right setup and techniques you can use your


router to perform a variety of decorative cuts, from tapering legs and cutting flutes in quarter columns to shell carv­ing. The flutes shown in the quarter col­umn in the photo at left, for example, were cut in a cylinder wrhile it was still mounted on a lathe; the router was fixed to a simple jig that rides along the lathe bed. Instructions for setting up the operation are shown beginning on page 120.

the jig against the headstock of the lathe, turn on the router, and push on the side of the jig to feed the bit into the blank. Once the pilots are bearing against the stock (left), slide the jig along the lathe bed until it contacts the stop block. Keep the bit pilots pressed against the stock throughout the cut as it routs the flute.

Turn off the router, remove the handscrew, and rotate the faceplate by hand until the next flute line is at the 12 o’clock position. Reinstall the handscrew. Repeat to cut the remaining flutes (above).

2 Setting up the tapering jig

To taper a leg with a router, use the jig shown at right, consisting of two taper­ing guides—one fixed and one adjust­able—a plywood base, and two wedges. For the jig, cut a %-inch-wide, 1 ^-inch – deep rabbet along one edge of each guide, then screw one of the guides to the base so the rabbet is facing up. Holding the leg flush against the fixed guide, slip the wedges under the workpiece at each end so the taper start line on the face and the uppermost outline on the end are both level with the rabbet shoulder on the guide. Then butt the rabbeted face of the adjustable guide against the leg and clamp it in place so the ends of the guides are aligned.


Tapering one side of the leg

Install a top-piloted %-inch straight bit in the router. To adjust the cutting depth, set the sub-base on the jig and extend the bit to the taper shoulder. Then turn on the tool and, starting at the top of the leg, remove the waste in straight passes toward the bottom (above). Work from one edge of the leg to the other until the entire surface has been tapered.


Finishing the taper

To taper the remaining three sides of the leg, unclamp the adjustable guide, rotate the workpiece in the jig by 90°, and reposition the wedge. Then resecure the guide and remove the waste as you did in step 3 (above).


1 Routing the reeds

You can use your router along with the lathe-mounted jig shown on page 120 to cut reeds in a turned leg. For this opera­tion, install a double-piloted bead bit in the router and, to ensure that the length of the reeds is uniform, clamp a stop block at each end of the lathe bed (left). Make index marks for the reeds on the lathe faceplate, spacing the lines equally, and mount the leg on the lathe so the cut will start at the leg’s thicker end as the router is fed against the direction of bit rotation. Once the setup is complete, rout the reeds as you would flutes (page 121), guiding the jig and router against the direction of bit rotation from one stop block to the other to cut the reeds one after another (below).



Guide rail

Router platform


Routing the first spiral

Fix the workpiece and router on the jig, adjusting the depth knobs so the router platform clears the stock. Set the router’s cutting depth so the bit will penetrate the stock the desired amount when the knobs contact the guide rail. Next, use the jig indexing head and pin to evenly space the number of spirals. To ensure all the spirals will be the same length, rotate the crank to move the platform to the headstock end of the jig, butt the stop on the guide rail against the platform, and lock it in place (above, top). Repeat with the stop at the other end. With the platform tilted up and butted against the stop at the tailstock end, turn on the router and lower the plat­form-plunging the bit into the stock—until the depth knobs contact the guide rail. Then turn the crank, rotating the workpiece and moving the platform, until the router reaches the headstock end (above, bottom).

2 Cutting the second spiral

Before you can rout the next spiral, readjust the indexing head and pin to set the desired spacing between the cuts. Make the remaining cuts in the same manner, then use a hex wrench to detach the cable clamp from the lower cable (above) and hook it to the upper cable. This will change the direction of rotation of the workpiece as you turn the crank.


Routing the remaining spirals

Cut a second set of spirals perpendic­ular to the first set, adjusting the spacing between the cuts after each pass. After four passes, the leg shown at left has a pineapple pattern.

Updated: March 18, 2016 — 2:18 pm