I would like to build a molded bar rail (see pic), but I'm not sure how to get it done. It looks like it is cut out of a 2x8, and I can find some of the radiuses, but I am having a hard time figuring out how to do the big swoop in the middle. Does anybody have an idea how to do this? I figure for the price I paid for this in my current house, I should be able to buy some bits and make it myself.
Bar rails are fairly easy to make in your shop. The one pictured below is made from 8/4 Red Oak, and sized for a small residential application.
The "swoop" as you call it, is actually a cove cut. The width and depth of the cut can be varied by the angle of feed and the blade height. Have a look at THIS SITE
. On that site there is a cove calculator chart that you can click on to enlarge. The overall width of the rail can be adjusted with the type of cove you cut.
As for the rounded edges, they can be done with a radius router bit. You would start with your rectangular stock and cut the mounting rabbet on the bottom edge. You can get by with the single rabbet. Then you can run the radius bit on the top and bottom edges. For 8/4 stock a 3/4" radius bit will work fine. You could do it with a hand held router with a radius bit with a bearing, and doing it that way you can set up the lengths to be routed and just walk down the board as you rout it. You get a pretty smooth pass this way. Figure on at least 3 passes, maybe 4, depending on the specie. The multiple passes are depth graduated and the last pass is just a skim pass to clean up.
If you do it on a table router, it's hard to get a smooth pass with the shifting of hands and taking steps, while holding the stock to the fence. Actually, if you had a shaper with a power feeder, bar rails are fast and easy.