Cove Molding

I make all but my smallest cove molding at my tablesaw. (The small pieces come off my router table.) As I set up to knock out a few pieces for my clock, I did what I have done from my earliest recollection of making cove. I placed, angled and clamped a fence to the right of my table saw blade. IMG_0691As I make passes with the blade just nipping my stock, I make sure that the stock stays tight to the fence – I have to push the stock into my fence. I like the idea that I’m in control and it is up to me to keep the stock in position as the cut is made.

I have seen other woodworkers set the fence to the left of the blade. The theory behind this setup is your blades pushes the stock toward you as it cuts. Therefore, you simply guide the material through the cut, not having to hold the stock to the fence.

I have tried this setup before. I was not comfortable at all. I’m not sure if my lack of comfort was because I do the operation so differently, or if I felt uncomfortable because I was reaching over the fence to guide my stock.

IMG_0693There is a third method out there. Sometimes two fences are positioned  on both sides of the blade. Please don’t tell me you do this. I’m sorry, but I don’t think a fence set to the left and to the right of the blade is a viable alternative. Why? If you set both fences tight to your stock and its width is not dead-on perfect, somewhere during your cut the stock becomes confined. That causes you to force the piece along and we all know what happens as you apply force around a spinning blade. If you tell me that you do not hold both fences tight to your stock, then I can only think that as you make your passes over the blade, the stock wiggles back and forth bouncing, if you will, from fence to fence. The resulting cut has to look atrocious. And sanding those pieces so they are ready to accept finish sucks up valuable shop time.

So which is it? Fence to the right or fence to the left?

Build Something Great!


Please do not write anything about my glove usage. There is nothing wrong with using gloves in the scenario. There is no blade expose any time during the cut!


Filed under Jigs, Shop Tips

6 responses to “Cove Molding

  1. a49model

    I do mine with the fence on the left, but I do everything with my left hand and besides being more comfortable for me it’s just natural. I tried doing things “right” and felt unsafe.

    • I had not considered left-handed woodworkers. My question then would be even if you are set up left of the blade, do you have your fence positioned above or below the blade? I guess I should have been more exact in my definition – I like my fence above the blade versus below the blade.

  2. I put my fence ‘downstream’ of the blade, so the work is forced against the fence. Also, I now use the CMT cove cutter made especially for this function. There’s a lot less scraping and sanding afterward.


    • Herman,
      I certainly understand that there would less work after using a CMT cove cutter, but do you then deal with scoops as opposed to lines found with a regular toothed blade?

      • Glen, no scoops. I use a slow feed rate as you would with a saw blade and take multiple passes, raising the cutter about 1/8 inch with each pass. I much prefer this cutter to my previous method of using a blade. Well worth the price I paid.


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