Question: I'm working on a project that requires me to cut three rows of beading to follow the contour of an arch. The workpiece is relatively small (4 in. by 2-1/2 in.) so to be proportional each bead also has to be very small. How would you recommend creating the parallel rows of beading?
-- jpowel165, via Ask The Experts , None


An easy solution for cutting beading that follows an arch is to use a bearing-guided router bit. However, most bits are going to be too big for what you're trying to accomplish. In that case I would use a scratch stock. 

A scratch stock is a simple jig with a shaped cutter that scratches a profile or edge onto a workpiece.  Although you can buy a commercial scratch stock there is no reason to. You can make one with scrap materials in just a few minutes. The handle can be made from a small piece of hardwood. The blade can be made from an old hacksaw or bandsaw blade. I generally use 01 flat ground steel stock which you can buy from tool-supply and industrial hardware sources. McMaster-Carr has it ( I buy 1/2-in. wide by 1/16-in. thick stock, and it comes in 18-in. or 26-in. lengths.

To make the scratch blade, simply grind the blade -- or file with metal files -- to the desired bead profile and install the blade in your simple wood jig (see drawing; click to enlarge). After adjusting the blade to the proper distance from the jig fence, you are ready to start scratching your bead. 

A scratch stock is used similar to a card scraper. Hold the tool so that the tip of the cutter is tilting in the direction it is traveling. Make repeated passes until the cutter stops removing material. Scratch stocks are more difficult to use when cutting cross grain, but with practice you will get the hang of it.

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Drawing: Ernie Conover

June 6, 2006