The table saw has limitations, like any tool, but some of those can be overcome with tricks of the trade. Table saws are primarily meant to make strait cuts (ripping) but by clamping a piece of wood at an angle and taking other precautions, the saw can be used to make simple but elegant cove molding. This makes sense from a financial standpoint, as a comparable molding prefabricated would cost around 3-4 dollars a linear foot. By comparison, a board foot of rough sawn cherry can be had from 2-4 dollars, so the saved money is worth the effort. Additionally one isn't limited to a single cove size. By simply increasing the angle of the board away from parallel to the blade, the cove will take on a gentler, larger curve. And if my lumber supplier doesn't have molding in the species of hardwood I want, I can simply begin with a board of my choice, with custom results.
The reason I made this molding is because I'm in the final stages of building a cherry mantle to be installed over a rock fireplace. It's the second mantle I've worked on (see my earlier post) and it's sure to be an improvement over my first. The main improvement consists in how I attach the cove molding to the underside of the top board. Rather than relying on the 45 degree beveled surface on the back of the molding as the only point of attachment, I'm going to secure a strip of wood (to the large flat area) that effectively extends my glue surface and gives me a place to install screws (I'll explain this more in a future post with additional images). The result will be the lack of nail holes through the front of the molding, and tighter corners on the sides of the mantle. I'm excited to see how this turns out and look forward to making mantles a regular addition to my woodworking repertoire.
J0hn Hunter Speier
Recent work, and explorations of techniques, aesthetics and poetics.