For my project I've ran into a issue that I am unsure how to resolve.

I am making legs for a stand. These legs (finished) are approx. 3" thick after face-gluing three 1" boards. Each board was cut using a template and 1" long flush-trim bit in my router.

This resulted in many of my complex shape, cut almost perfectly. Unfortunately, each piece of this layer cake is still slightly imperfect and not totally flush after gluing.

Apart from purchasing yet another expensive specialty router bit, how can I make this "thick" stock totally flush once more? The picture attached shows my legs waiting to be glued, but you get the idea.

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3 Answers 3


Spindle sander, drum sander, belt sander (using both the flat and the end drum parts.) Some parts of those will require a spindle or drum, on casual examination. Should help getting the router-burn marks out as well.

Rasps or microplanes of various shapes may also be useful. As would a plane if you're up for sharpening it, as most people these days are evidently not.

With a block plane you can plane the flat parts and the convex parts (to some extent.) If you want to plane the concave parts, you'll need more tools, such as a round-bottomed spokeshave. If you are dedicated to not buying any more tools, you may have to spend a long time hand-sanding with sandpaper on blocks or wrapped around dowels.

  • Sadly I only own very limited tools. Though of the tools you listed I own a few rasps and a block plane. But could you elaborate on how to plane a curved shape like this? Ironically I just purchased a proper sharpening stone and honing compound for my chisels
    – Matt
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 2:43

Unfortunately, each piece of this layer cake is still slightly imperfect and not totally flush after gluing.

If you're using templates correctly this shouldn't really occur. Each one should be a perfect or near-perfect copy of the others. This suggests a few possible issues with the way you're routing, as does the evident scorching* and the scalloping visible in the photo when viewed at full size.

Apart from purchasing yet another expensive specialty router bit, how can I make this "thick" stock totally flush once more?

Abrasive paper
You can do this entirely by sanding, and entirely by hand sanding if you had to. Working manually even doing it the right way (starting with nothing finer than 80 grit) it will still take quite a bit of time, but it is doable. So if you choose to go this route settle in for a long job, put your head down and work through it. It won't seem like it while you're sanding but you will eventually get it done!

Rasps and/or files
A good rasp or a suitable file will do the gross smoothing faster, with sanding or scraping to finish off. Because you'll be forced to do some rasping/filing across the grain watch out for spelching from the far edge.

Planing would be the best way to smooth off most of the surfaces here because it's fastest and most efficient, plus no dust, but unfortunately it's not possible to do the whole job this way because some curves are too tight. Additionally the concave portions require a compass plane which is a speciality plane and often not cheap (vintage ones in even OK condition command high prices). The flats and convex parts though can be dealt with using any standard flat-bottomed plane. In a Comment you mention you have a block plane and that can be used for this. Make sure the iron is well honed and close the mouth up to help reduce tearout.

Regardless of the plane used expect to have to sand or scrape to finish off.

Combination approach
This is what I would recommend.

Use a plane for every surface it's suitable for, and rasps/files or sandpaper wrapped around dowels or shaped sanding blocks for all the rest. Then sand or scrape to blend the areas and unify the surface.

*About the scorching, some woods are particularly prone to this and even with a sharp bit and good technique it is normal to expect to get some. But too much of it is seen particularly when you push the bit too hard or (as odd as it might seem) you're using too low a speed and/or moving the router too slowly. If you play around with feed rate and speed combinations you should be able to reduce it to a minimum even in a scorch-prone wood. And this sweet spot will also produce a better, more even routed surface (i.e. minimal or no scalloping).

Additionally, one of the secrets to getting a really nice surface when routing profiles is to do on last, very shallow, pass. One way of achieving this is to stick a layer of tape along the edge of your template (or the router's fence) for the main cut, then take it off for a final pass. With the tape removed the bit will skim off a thickness of wood equal to the thickness of the tape. This technique virtually guarantees a tearout-free, burn-free surface and if your bit is good and sharp it may be so good that no final sanding is required to smooth off. You may wish to sand to equalise how the surface takes stain or finish however.

  • 1
    I would also wonder if he tried to go straight from boards to the final shape with one pass of the router. If so, he should be roughing out the shape with a saw (band saw, jigsaw, or coping saw for the curves) first, then finalizing with 1 or 2 passes with the router as you suggest. Commented May 17, 2017 at 16:04

Looks like there is a lot of burn on the pieces. Normally means you are using blunt cutters and pushing them too hard.

No issue with the finish though. You would use a sander to finish them off. I would use a belt sander with 100 or 120 grit for the straight sections and a bench sander for the curves or an orbital sander. Finish off by using a rubber sanding block for the curved sections. Turn it upside down and use the curved section of the sanding block to help retain the shape.

For the really tight curves you can wrap some 120 grit around a piece of pipe and sand using a sawing motion. For the top of the tight curves just use the orbital sander. It is important to not push down hard on the sander.

This is what we would do in a factory environment.

You don't need to buy another router bit, just send it out for sharpening.

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