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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Of all my tools and operations performed on or with them, routing end grain that has a curve, using the router table, intimidates me most. Because I don't know how to do it safely, I have had some disastrous near misses. And, I've wasted a lot of material.

I'm about to make some cabinet doors with a curved top rail. Pic included.

Can some experts give me some tips on how to do this safely and on the first pass? I use a Freud 3HP variable speed router in the table, and the bits I have are all sharp and good quality. The issue is not the tools, but the operator.
 

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If you are worried about chipping the corner coming off the cut, you can use a sacrificial board against the off cut or you can back in, just a hair, to take that corner off then go ahead and make the long cut. I hope this makes sense.

If you make a back cut, be very careful, the cutter can grab the piece quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, I always use the backer, that's not the problem. It's routing against end grain without getting a grab by the router or a big tear out. The curve in the piece shown will present end grain to the bit in two different directions, one where the bit bites the wood from the "backside" of the end grain, and one where the bit is biting head on into the end grain. In the piece above, the initial milling will be done on the left side, and things will be fine until the bit passes the top of the curve, and begins to "descend" into the end grain. That's where I have problems.

Perhaps it is dependent on bit speed. I tend to run mine at the lowest RPM that provides a clean, no burn cut.
 

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Don’t try to do a raised panel cut in one pass. Do it in maybe as many as 3 increments. This is best for both you and your router. Make your cuts with the routed side face down. On small curved pieces, I like to tack on a temporary handle on the backside of the piece being routed. This keeps hands higher above the blade. This temporary piece attaches without glue using only nails and is removed after the cuts are made. On larger pieces no handle is necessary.
Always move right to left. No backing up.
When working with curves, you must have a roller bearing guide above your cutter for your pattern guide. Your curved design is cut out and the edge is sanded smooth to glide against this bearing.
Today’s carbide router bits are so much better than the old high speed steel bits we used to run on shapers. As the hp of routers grew, the need for small shapers fell.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Thanks. What is your recommendation on speed? BTW, don't have a problem with the raised panel. Its the cope/stick operation against curved end grain that is the problem.
 

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Unlike when using a large raised panel cutter Which you can dial up in height in three steps, your cope and stick bits must be set at the proper height and left alone. Since there are no further height adjustments on these c & s bits, it is up to the woodworker to ease into the blade incrementally because a one pass cut can cause a chunk of wood being torn out.
You can still use a temporary handle on the back side if needed.
Many will work from a pivot pin in their table to slide into the cutter head.
You can turn these c & s bits faster than the larger raised panel bits.
Constant firm motion. No stopping or backing up. Downward pressure. Right to left.
 

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Some woods tolerates that better than others. You might try it on some scrap the same species you are using and see what happens. What you can do to minimize the blow out is make it in several passes so it's not hogging all the wood at once.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks to all for advice. Operations today was a success.

Since this is a painted project, I chose pine as it's end grain is the softest to machine. I made a jig so I could safely handle the pieces, which were relatively small for these cabinet door rails, about 5" x 12". Cut the curves on the band saw, gang sanded the pair to a the pencil line, and then put one in the jig. I also -- and I think this was the most important step --- substantially increased the router bit speed over what I had been using historically. I found with the holding jig, it was relatively easy to manually guide the material past the bit in two to three passes, slowly, taking a bigger bite each time until the last pass when the material contacted the bearing. Very happy with results, but even more happy with mastering technique.
 
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