Tag Archives: Rabbet bit

3 Accepted Foot-to-Case Connections

Last week, after I professed that everyone should have a spindle sander, A few readers asked how I used a spindle sander as a thickness sander. It turns out that I have posted that technique, but it was inside another post. Here’s a link to that post; you’ll find the spindle sander being used to thin ebony string about halfway down the post.

Entertainment_Center copyOn to the next topic: How to attach feet to your case. Of course, there are a few ways to get feet on your cases. There are three methods I generally use on most every case. The first is to attach the feet directly to the bottom of the case, a second method is to rout the top edge of the joined feet and install a plate through which screws affix the assembled unit to the case bottom and the third method is to attach feet to a frame then attach the frame to the case and use a transition molding to cover the through dovetails where the case bottom joins the sides. I mention other methods, because I’ve built a couple of chest – full-size and spice boxes – from Chester County where the feet were attached directly to stiles of the frame and panels sides. While this is not commonplace, it, along with other methods, is sometimes done.

To attach feet directly to the case, I begin by installing a molding to which the feet are glued. You wouldn’t think that you could assemble feet to a molding and that would be strong enough to hold everything for 200 years. IMG_1590Of course, you would be correct. What really holds the feet to the case are  glue blocks. These blocks also carry the bulk of the load of your chest. On the case I’m currently at work on, the thickness of the feet allows about an 1/8″ of the feet to lap onto the case itself. Then, with the glue blocks in place, the weight of the case is divided on the actual feet and on the glue blocks – the vertical block holds the weigh while the two horizontal blocks keep the assembled foot attached.

The next method is a bit more work. And the added plate makes the connection easier, but not necessarily any stronger. After the two foot pieces are joined via miters, I rout a small lip on the inside of the feet using a rabbeting router bit to which I attach a thin plate. PlateThe SketchUp drawing at the left shows how the plate fits to the feet; a thin bead of glue and brads secure the plate to the feet. The assembled unit is then screwed directly to the case bottom with the unit sticking out in front of the case. The look is completed by wrapping a molding around the case. An example of this type of connection is seen in the opening photo, although you cannot see the plate. That’s by design. As you see in the drawing, the cutout for the plate does not blow through the end of the foot.

The last method – the option that I find the most used as I look back at furniture I’ve built throughout the years – is to attach the feet to a base frame which is then attached to the case. Foot&Frame3I used this method on the Pennsylvania blanket chests in the August 2009 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine (#177) and the Serpentine chest from issue #195 (February 2012). As you can see in the right-hand photo, the same idea of glue blocks is used – mainly for reinforcement in this case. The frame is attached to the front of the chest with screws, but the remaining frame is nailed to the case bottom to allow for seasonal adjustments. The look is then completed with a transition molding.

These are three good methods used to attach feet to cases. There are pros and cons to each, as there is with any technique used in woodworking. Whenever you here, “This is the only way to do it,  run in the opposite direction. You have choices.

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Filed under Joinery, Methods of Work

Seldom Used Router Technique Solves Problem

DoorYears ago at Woodwork Event shows, I taught seminars on router techniques. I shared tips on router joinery, jigs and fixtures associated with routers and talked about basic router uses. As I neared the end of the 90 minute seminars, provided there were few questions,  I would jump into “fill the time” mode. I would ask if anyone had a drill bit that cut 4 1/8″ diameters. Of course, no one had such a  bit, or if they did they would not admit it in front of others.

The reason for my question was to open my discussion of how you could use two router bits – a pattern bit and rabbet bit – to create a hole of any size. I seldom used this technique, but I sold it as a way to create holes large enough to act as supports for dust collection pipe. J-hangers, commonly used to hang plastic pipe, were easily broken. If, however, you had a hole at the center of a piece of plywood, you could hang pipe forever.

IMG_0343It’s a simple technique. Begin with a 1 7/8″ hole drilled at the center of your plywood – a drill bit of that diameter is not out of the ordinary. Step two is  to cut a 3/8″ rabbet around the inside of the hole, then using a pattern bit where the bearing rides along the rabbeted shoulder, remove the remaining material to open the hole 3/4″. Your hole now has 2 5/8″ diameter. Repeat the process two more times and you then have a hole with a 4 1/8″ diameter. The technique works. It’s fun to talk about, and any diameter is possible depending on the size of your rabbet cut and the diameter of the hole in which you begin.

IMG_0342Until this week, I thought hole resizing was about the only use for this technique.  As I worked on my  waist door for the Egerton tall clock, I found another use. My door, as can be seen on the original clock in the opening photo, has a shaped top. The door also has edge banding that surrounds the veneered panel. For that, I needed to cut a recess.

My table saw worked great on the straight sides of the door, but for the top I needed a perfectly sized pattern that was offset from the door’s outer edge by 1″ exactly. I could have drawn a pattern, but would that have been an exact match? Instead, I grabbed a piece of plywood then used a pattern bit to get a profile directly off the door. I then went to my router table and stepped two times using a 3/8″” rabbet bit and my pattern bit, then grabbed a 1/4″ rabbet bit to compete my profile. My adjusted pattern was an exact match offset by 1″ (3/8″” x 2 + 1/4″).

If you look at the photo above, you may think that the sized pattern matches the door profile and I could have simply slipped the profile down the door and went to work. You would be wrong. The photo below better shows the relationship of the sized pattern and the door profile. Using this technique was the perfect solution.


This technique works. Now I’m left wondering where else I could use it, and if there are other seldom used router techniques that could make work in the shop better.

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Filed under Jigs, Power Tools, Routers, Shop Tips

That Rascally Rabbet

Many years ago, I was on a DIY network show “Tools & Techniques” hosted by David Thiel. I was on the show to demonstrate how to use a dado stack when building shelving units. Back when I was building large built-in entertainment units for area home builders I, of course, had used a stack many times. The dado I had back them was an old wobble-style blade. (If you watch the TV show link above, you can see an example of the wobble blade.)

I could not and would not arrive for a show taping with a totally worn-out dado stack, so a week before my appearance I purchased a new stack. It’s the same stack I use today, if and when I use a dado stack. You see, at the time of the taping and for the most part today, I had moved away from using a dado stack to cut rabbets – I had found other methods that were easier.

By easier, I am not talking about the actual use, but about setup. Dialing in a dado stack for an exact thickness is a pain. I find it much easier to grab a router, pattern bit and my platform jig to get an exact 3/4″-dado for shelves, or a straight fence to create a rabbet along the back edge of a case piece to hide backboards. Also, there is a rabbeting router bit that works just fine, and that is how I cut rabbets these days.

I have a friend who was in the shop building the “Southern Lady’s Desk” from the November 2011 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. As he rabbeted the lower drawers for the 1/8″ bead, he had tear-out that was significant enough to damage the drawer front even though he routed the end grain first. It was so bad that he had to make a repair before moving on.

That stuck in my head as I thought about cutting rabbets for the ten drawers on which I was about to add beading. With ten drawer fronts there is certainly enough work to warrant setting up a dado stack, so I did. I set my stack wider than the rabbet, then buried part of it under a sacrificial fence as shown to the right. After I adjusted the depth of cut, I ran each drawer over the blades, end grain first.

With each drawer completed, I checked the cut to see if there was any tear-out or other problems. Happily, none was found.

Will I pull out my dado stack whenever I have a rabbet to cut? I doubt it. I did, however, rediscover another technique for cutting that rascally rabbet. That makes four that I use – tablesaw without a dado stack (two-step rabbet) tablesaw with a dado stack, rabbeting router bit and a router with a pattern bit and fence.

As I say about most woodworking operations: Know as many different techniques as you can, then pick the technique that works best for you. Or choose the technique that is best for whatever you are doing.

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Filed under Joinery, Power Tools, Shop Tips

Router Work: Perfect Off-set Profiles

One of a handful of  important tools in my shop are routers. No, I don’t have routers sitting on shelves circling my shop as did Mr. Abram during his long-running show, but I do own more than a few. I have them not for show, but because they do almost any job you ask. When I teach routers I run through many of these uses, such as plowing grooves and dados, sliding dovetails, hogging out waste between pins, edge profiles and more.

One fun technique that I always demonstrated toward the end of the seminar was how to enlarge a hole using routers. I found this technique fun, but not all that practical. How many times do you need to enlarge a hole to a specific diameter? I do this occasionally whenever I need to hang pipe or duct-work for dust collection, and mostly that’s about all. But as I worked on a secretary interior recently, I discovered how I could put this technique to use.

Here’s the technique: Begin with a hole drilled through your workpiece – it doesn’t matter what size hole as long as you can get a rabbet bit into that hole. Next, slip that rabbet bit into the hole so a bearing runs along the bottom edge of the hole, then make a pass around the hole to enlarge the top portion as shown in the above photo. The next step is to use a pattern router bit to waste away the portion of the hole not cut with your rabbet bit. Voila. You now have a perfectly round hole that is larger in diameter. (See below.)

What makes this technique valuable is that you can step from any diameter hole to a desired-diameter hole by adjusting your rabbet size. In the photos, I took a 1-3/4″ hole and moved to a 2-3/4″ diameter hole. A second run through the process would take my hole to 3-3/4″ in diameter due to the fact that I had my rabbet bit set for a 1/2″ rabbet. If a rabbet bit were set for a 3/8″ rabbet, the hole would move from 1-3/4″ to 2-1/2″ (+3/4″). A second run through would produce a hole with a 3-1/4″ diameter (+3/4″). Any size step is possible. You can combine any different rabbet bit setups to get to exactly the size diameter you want – one pass with a 3/8″ bit and a second using a 1/2″ rabbet bit would increase your diameter by 1-3/4″ (3/8″ + 1/2″ x 2).

Nice little technique, but how is this going to help with my secretary interior? In the top photo, the bottom and middle shelves have the exact same profile except that the middle shelf steps back a 1/2″ exactly. Not simply back at all the straight areas – each curve also steps outward, too. I could have developed a second pattern (as discussed a few weeks back in my “Are Full-size Plans Available?” post), traced the pattern onto my shelf, then cut the shape at my band saw. Instead, I used this rabbet/router technique and had a completed shelf in two quick steps. I cannot believe it took me this long to put this technique to use.

This is a simple process to use and can really save you time in the shop, but I will add a caveat. It’s important to watch the direction of your grain and the undulating profile as you rout (work from high to low as you would when turning at your lathe). Also, I found it best to climb-cut most of the shape as I worked to keep from splitting out wood in chunks.

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Filed under Power Tools, Routers, Shop Tips