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Router bits that are guided by ball bearings make it possible to add a profile to a curved edge. If the entire piece is curved, it makes sense to do this shaping on the router table. The tricky part is getting the cut started. When you push the uncut edge into the spinning cutter, it takes a big bite and it’s easy to lose control of the workpiece. The solution is to give yourself some leverage, so that your hands aren’t the only things holding the work.

Rest the work against a block as you start the cut to maintain control.

In the photo, I’m rounding over the edges of one of the hand mirrors I made for the February 2012 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. In addition to using the block, I also started the cut on the wide part of the piece, not the skinny end of the handle. Many commercial router tables include a round metal pin for this purpose, but I’m using a shop-made table and decided to make my own. It’s just a block of scrap wood. I smoothed the edges and rounded over the corners, and simply screwed the block down to the tabletop.

I keep the block in contact with the edge as I work around the perimeter

I keep the edge in contact with the block as I make the cut, especially as I reach the narrow end of the handle where the cut reverses direction. That’s another place where the bit can grab. The location of the block isn’t critical, but I took a minute before screwing it down to go through the motions with the router turned off to make sure I had a clear path. The radius of this cut is 3/8″, and I have the lower corner of the cutting edge set flush with the tabletop. The stock I’m using is 13/16″ thick, and that leaves a flat for the bearing to ride on as I cut the second side. If I were working with thinner stock, I would lower the cutter slightly. You may also notice the state-of-the art dust collection system, complete with the Tape-O-Matic 6000 universal hose connector.

— Robert W. Lang

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Showing 2 comments
  • Hayden

    Thanks Robert – for the great tip & the Tape-O-Matic 6000 connector idea – what a great piece of Humor!!! Being a farmer, rancher, & a woodworker; I probably could not get through the day with out duct tape or baling wire! Thanks for the laugh – sometimes life is way to serious; good humor lightens the load.

  • Mitch Wilson

    I hate to admit it, but the Tape-O-Matic 6000 was the very first thing that caught my eye. Do you know if it comes in mauve? As to the starting block, did you find that using rounded corners with small radii was advantageous to using a circular block? Also, do you think that this is a better way to go on a commercially made router table rather than the very slender starter pins that come with the set-up?


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