8 Tips for Flawless Moldings
Smart router setup and technique yield crisp profiles and silky surfaces
Synopsis: Creating molding safely and cleanly requires that you use proper tools and pay careful attention to technique. Here, Steve Latta shares tips for making sure that the moldings you build will fit well and look their best. They include choosing the right router-table setup, burying the bit to eliminate tearout, roughing out profiles on the tablesaw, using a wide blank for safety, cutting in the proper sequence to avoid chipout, using an offset fence, and techniques for ripping and cleanup. With Latta’s help, you’ll soon be creating molding that gives all your woodworking the perfect finishing touch.
A crisp molding lends the same touch of elegance to a wellmade cabinet that a silk tie bestows on a sharp-dressed man. But in order for their magic to work, neckties and moldings both must be treated with care. A molding with torn-out grain or fuzzy edges will spoil the effect—like a soup stain in the middle of your chest.
I don’t have to fuss with a necktie very often, but my students and I do run plenty of molding. I’ve adopted several techniques for making sure the results fit well and look their best. Creating molding safely and cleanly requires careful attention in three areas: cutting profiles, cleaning them up, and, finally, ripping the individual molding strips. The suggestions here touch on all of these areas.
1 Use a sacrificial fence to tame tearout
To eliminate tearout, I like to bury the bit in a wooden fence, creating a zero clearance cavity that lets the fence serve as a chipbreaker. There are two types of this fence that I make most often; both start with a good scrap of wide 2x stock with a jointed face and edge.
The first is a very simple fence that I…