Round Over Edge for Extension Table

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    Fritz Walker

    I’m about to start making a walnut extension table for my daughter. It will be fairly large – 84″ x 42″ closed and 120″ x 42″ open. I’m considering using a round profile edge treatment. The thickness of the top will be 13/16″. So I’ll need to create 27 feet of round profile, and 20 of those feet will be on end grain (because on an extension table the boards have to run across the table, not end-to-end).

    I’ve successfully created some nice rounded edges on small projects like some of Paul’s small box projects, and they came our very nice just using a smoothing plane or bevel up plane, then hand sanding. But in those cases the boards being rounded were only about 3/8″ thick and 12″ long. As an amateur hand tool enthusiast, if I cut the rounded profile with a smoothing plane can I achieve a good clean line over a 10 foot length as long as I proceed carefully?

    Alternatively I’m thinking maybe I should buy an antique hollow moulding plane to do this job. Probably about a 7/8″ radius I’m thinking would be a good profile. However, I’m concerned about whether I could pull off such a large amount of round over without getting a lot of tear out in the walnut with a moulding plane.

    I definitely do not want to resort to a router. Can anyone offer advice on this?

    Fritz Walker

    Larry Geib

    Moulding planes often are made with a steep pitch to the blade,(55°-60°) which helps prevent tearout. Making profiles with or across the grain usually isn’t too much of a problem . Hollows and rounds also come in skewed versions, which makes working end grain a bit easier. The trade off is they track a little less easily.

    There are a couple of traditional ways to make the profile consistent . One is to first cut a shallow rebate and start your rounded edge profile at that point so the start of the rounded profile is more defined. A filletster plane will do this. A skew version will do the cross grain more easily.
    It doesn’t have to be a lot deeper than a deep scribe mark. Most thumbnail edge treatments start this way. And can be rounded with hollow planes, a dedicated moulding plane or just a hand plane to remove most of the profile followed by scratch stock .

    A second it to make the profiled portion an breadboard end “ plant” on the edge. It would be easier to make, the profile and would be long grain , but would need some sort of joinery to apply to the table edge., again, with a slight offset. maybe a T&G joint and some dowels. Keep in mid the edge of a dining table takes some abuse.

    • This reply was modified 8 months, 2 weeks ago by Larry Geib.
    Ken Kilby

    You can absolutely do it, and make it look good, with your smoothing plane and sandpaper on a block.


    I haven’t done this on a table, but if you have an appropriate drill, you could drill a hole through a bit of scrap, split out a section, glue abrasive paper on, and use that as a sanding block to even things out. The longer the hole, the more uniform the profile will be, so you might try boring along the grain to get a long block. On the other hand, the longer the block, the harder it will be to work shorter sections. Remember that you don’t really need or want a perfectly machined edge. You just want something that looks good, and that’s very much not the same thing. You could always get a long bit of wood to try making the roundover just to see how well it comes off the bench plane. I wouldn’t assume that the hollow is going to magically make this easy, by the way. Guiding the hollow, not leaving tracks at the edges, and even just tuning / sharpening the hollow aren’t freebies. Also, even without the fancy block I described, simply backing the paper with something flexible, like a foam bad, is very likely to give you everything you need.

    • This reply was modified 8 months, 1 week ago by Ed.
    Fritz Walker

    Thanks for all the very helpful comments. I’ll be experimenting on some scrap pieces to see what I like best, but am keen to try the fillester plane with a very shallow cut to establish a nice straight guide for the rounding. I suspect I’ll wind up then cutting the round with a smoothing plane, but I’ve ordered a couple of hollow moulding planes off ebay to try and see which approach I like best. I’m new to moulding planes, but have wanted to get a few to try for some time.

    I’m also going to put a bead on the bottom of the apron, and have already ordered a side bead moulding plane for that job.

    Fritz Walker

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