Baseboards on the Router

September 2, 2013 § 4 Comments

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Our new washer and dryer have been purchased and will be delivered (hopefully) next weekend, which means the clock is ticking for me to install the baseboards in our new laundry room. I’m using CVG Douglas fir, as that matches the wood used in much of the house. I chose a simple ogee profile – Whiteside bit 5085 as seen here. There are literally six different baseboard profiles in our small house, so I wasn’t too concerned about a perfect match with anything.

Small bites are important for any router cut, but this especially seems to be prudent with tall vertical bits. On most horizontal profiled bits, successive passes are taken by raising the bit little by little. On a vertical bit, the fence is moved a little further back on each pass.  I wanted to make one pass with this router bit, so I wasted away much of the material by taking a few passes with a straight bit in the router, and also used a block plane and wide rabbet plane to work my way down. Using those planes was by far the most enjoyable part of this little project.

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In progress view of wasting as much as possible down to the profile with planes.

The setup can be seen below. An mdf sacrificial fence was attached to the main router fence and slowly fed into the bit. This created a zero clearance fence to help smooth the cut. The sacrificial fence was attached with Rockler universal fence clamps. Those clamps aren’t the best made things in the world, but they work just fine for this application. The nice thing about a vertical panel bit is that you don’t need a big 15 amp router or a shaper like if you were using a horizontal bit. The challenge with the vertical bit is that you have to pass the board on edge through the cut, keeping the entire width of the board up against the fence and the narrow edge flat against the table. The fence needs to be tall, and it helps to have a featherboard to keep things steady. The right angle board notched into the featherboard helps to keep it from rotating on you.

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While spring clamps seemed to hold these tight, I did switch them out for c-clamps for my own piece of mind.

And if all goes well, the board is passed through the bit and you have a baseboard with a nice profile at the other end. Another disadvantage to a vertical bit is that it perhaps doesn’t leave quite as nice a surface as a horizontal bit. And routers aren’t known for leaving the nicest of surfaces anyway, especially when you are used to what a hand plane can accomplish. So there will be some cleanup by both scraping and sanding. Then it’s just a matter of cutting to size, coping a few joints,  applying several coats of shellac, and installation. And then comes the first load of laundry in our new laundry room.

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§ 4 Responses to Baseboards on the Router

  • Eric,

    I’m surprised to see that you used spring clamps to hold the featherboard in place, especially since I see that you have C- and F-clamps nearby. I only use spring clamps for the lightest tasks, such as holding parts in alignment while I mark them.

    Chris

    • Eric Bushèe says:

      Hi Chris,

      That picture is probably a little misleading. I initially used the spring clamps to hold things in position, and the intent was to follow with c-clamps. I ran the first one through with just the spring clamps, and even though they held just fine, I did switch off the featherboard with c-clamps. I’ll revise the caption on that picture.

      I do prefer c-clamps over f-style clamps when working with power tools. Vibrations don’t seem to loosen them as much. Once they are tightened down, they seem to stay that way.

      -Eric

  • Nice use for a panel raising bit. I have something done similar to this but that was a two part baseboard. I Like single piece baseboards – less chance for errors when installing.

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