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I would like to achieve an inset edge beading effect on a drawer front as seen here: inlayed beading effect on drawer front

What would be the best approach for achieving this?

I would rather do this on the face of the drawer rather than tacking beading on to a recess on the drawer front if possible.

  • I don't think "inlayed" is the word you are looking for. Incised, perhaps. Router, router plane, scratch stock, or carving chisels are all possible approaches. – keshlam Dec 19 '16 at 19:30
  • I've reworded to inset, how would this be achieved with a router in the corner areas? – Jack Dec 19 '16 at 20:06
  • Something like that would usually be mitered at the corners, as you have two profiles meeting at an outside corner, and it is not a stile and rail front, but rather a slab. If you just run linear footage of that beaded profile, and then miter it around an undercut slab front, accounting for the thickness of the profiled pieces, you will get the best corner detail. – Jacob Edmond Dec 19 '16 at 20:08
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This is not a job for the router, at least not in the way you're thinking. Here are two quick guides to how this is generally done:
Two Ways to Make Cock Beading on Fine Woodworking.
Q & A: Cock-Beading on Drawer Fronts on Popular Woodworking.

You're hoping to form this in situ on a solid wood drawer front, I suppose it's possible with a tricky operation using a router and the right bit, but the corners might be still end up less precise than you'd like and I think it would be more straightforward (and surprisingly, not slower) to do it using hand tools.

The best option IMO would be using a scratch stock, since you don't need to buy anything. You can make one for yourself in under half an hour using stuff you probably already have in the shop (a scrap of wood or plywood, even MDF would do in a pinch) a few screws and a small piece of steel*.

Here's are a few basic scratch stocks:

Traditional scratch stocks And some images indicating how they're held and used:

Scratch stock grip

Scratch stocks, like all scraping tools, can be pushed or pulled, sometimes used in both ways on the same job, according to how the wood grain lies as well as the preference of the user.

Note; scratch stocks are generally used to create grooves and other details that run the whole length of the stock being worked (through grooves). In order to form accurate, repeatable stopped grooves I think you'll want to use wooden stops at both ends, very firmly clamped or temporarily tacked to the bench with small brads. And needless to say some practice is advisable before committing to scratching the detail into your drawer fronts!


*Usual candidates for the blade for a scratch stock are short lengths of broken bandsaw or hacksaw blade, or a piece of card scraper or saw plate which are much the same steel usually. But even a piece of stainless from a cheap kitchen knife will do the job quite well, particularly if a magnet will stick to the blade (non-magnetic stainless would still work but would blunt a lot quicker).

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  • I imagine it will take many passes to get to the desired depth. How do you start, and then make sure it stays lined up well enough that you're cutting the same angle until you get to the desired depth? Do you start with the cutting blade high and then adjust it downward as you go? – Charlie Kilian Dec 20 '16 at 15:57
  • Not as many as you'd think, scratch stocks can be surprisingly fast (especially doing something shallow like cock beading). The fence, and proper holding/technique, take care of alignment with the edge, as for the depth this is like all trad moulding tools in that it's self-limiting, you just work it until no further scrapings are taken. Yes, you do rock the scratch stock so that the blade is high initially and eventually ends up vertical, cutting to full depth. – Graphus Dec 20 '16 at 19:25
  • I'm kind of excited to try this. I've got a great candidate project that would benefit greatly from it. – Charlie Kilian Dec 20 '16 at 19:28
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    Graphus - how does one do the corners? This looks good for scraping parallel to the grain, but does it work for scratching cross grain? – Ast Pace Dec 21 '16 at 21:52
  • @AstPace Corners — very carefully! Scratching details is done usually following the grain and it'll definitely work much better that way (which is why I gave the links to the way cock beading is usually done right at the start) but with care it should be possible to do this cross-grain. Wood type will matter, it'll work better on maple or poplar than it would on oak or ash I'm sure. – Graphus Dec 22 '16 at 11:45

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