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MOLDING - Making Your Own

 

Home Improvement stores (all of them) charge an astronomical amount of money for a piece of plain wood that has undergone minimal machining to transform it into "molding". I needed molding for the replacement window in my back door, but I'll be dipped if I'll shell out $70 for three 8-foot lengths of molding that was made from $6 worth of wood! In any event, the outside of the door needed some custom molding which Lowes and Home Depot don't carry, so I decided to fire up my router and make my own.

Close-up of router cutting a groove.

Rounding corners with a router and a molding bit is super-simple; in fact, it's practically "retard-proof".

However, cutting grooves or removing " of material from half the thickness of an 8-foot length of "1 by 3" is a job that requires a bit of skill and a router guide (or a router table). Here you see a plunge router set for " depth, and a router guide used to guide the cutter to the center of the board.

Using a router guide to remove 1/4" thickness down the length of a board.

The guide keeps the cutter from wandering too far "inside" the part where you want the material to stay, and permits the cut to wander to the edge of the "outside" of the board where you want the material removed.

This cut required 3 "passes". For the first cut, always adjust your guide and cut material from the center of the area you want to remove material from. This leaves you material on both sides of the cut so that the router's base is held horizontally stable. For the second "pass", you set the guide for the farthest "in from the edge" cut. The last "pass" finishes the job, removing the rest of the wood to the edge. For the last "pass" you must hold the router base steady on the (left side in the photo) thick part of the work because you'll be cutting away the stabilizing edge of the wood.

Router removing wood from a 1x3 to make custom molding.

The trick to nice, smooth cuts is to ALWAYS PULL the router towards you; and NEVER PUSH the router into the work. Doing this provides much better control of the tool. Also you must keep the base of the router flat down against the surface of the work. Before you start, make sure there is nothing that will impede the smooth travel of the router across the surface of the wood (especially staples or nails). As with all things, practice makes (almost) perfect (only God is perfect).

 

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Last modified: 05/29/15

 

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