Router-made Columns

IMG_1410Last week I finished the work on the goose-neck mouldings and the carved rosettes. At the left, you can see the mouldings and rosettes in place (click the photo to make it larger). This week I turned my attention to the columns that flank each side of the hood at the front and back.

These columns are reeded and need to fit a 3/4″ opening in the brass capitals. To make things work, I need to make the columns a larger diameter, then create the reeds, which extend beyond the 3/4″ diameter. I decided to make the columns 1″ round and to scratch in the reeds. The extra diameter allows for the reeds and provides a bit more material if needed.

My first thought was to turn the columns at my lathe. Even with a copy lathe, the process is slow and laborious – I need eight columns, four for each clock (I’m building two). IMG_1411There is no shape to these columns. No undulating whatsoever. They are straight from top to bottom.

After the first column, I remembered a technique to produce round dowels using a router table setup. It’s way faster. All you need is the correct router bit and material that is about 4″ (2″ extra at each end of the column) longer than the final length of the dowels. The router bit is a round-over bit that is half the total diameter of your dowel. IMG_1414In this case I am making 1″-diameter dowels, so I need a 1/2″ round-over bit. (If your dowels were 3/4″, you would need a 3/8″ round-over bit.)

I needed 16″-long columns. To work this technique with the added 4″ of material, I needed a minimum table length of 34″ (twice the column plus 2″). My router table top is nowhere near that length, so I whipped up an auxiliary top made from a piece of 1/2″ Baltic birch plywood. I positioned the router bit so the bearing was flush with my fence, and set the height just even with the top edge of the plywood.

You need to pivot the material into the cut so you leave a short section of square material at the leading end. As the material contacts the fence, cut the profile just as you would normally do, but do not run through the entire length. IMG_1416At the trailing end, stop short, leaving 2″ or less of square material. It’s those square sections that keep the dowel from turning as you make the last pass.

After you complete one pass, rotate the material 90° and make another pass. Four passes later you have a rounded dowel that rolls across your bench.

I completed all eight dowels (plus an extra just in case) in about 15 minutes after I had the setup ready to go. Wham. Bam. Thank you, ma’am.

IMG_1417

Now to come up with a way to hold the dowels as I scratch the small reeds. I remember seeing a setup that Jeff Headley concocted for a similar purpose. Think I’ll dig that up.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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