I am trying to make a corner shelf that would match some existing pieces of furniture. I cannot understand how the edge was made, or more precisely, how I could achieve something similar.

The round part of the edge is around 2 inch high, way too much even for 1/2 inch shank router bits. Here's how an existing (not corner shelf) shelf looks like:

enter image description here

This is solid wood (hard wood), mass-produced, stained and lacquered. The other parts of the profile look like I can tackle them but the round, large part is out of my imagination.

How could one achieve this, and not necessarily on a straight portion (i.e. I dream of making the corner shelf as a quarter of a circle:

enter image description here

.. only with an edge profile that would match the "Louis Philipe" shelf above.

Is this feasible with DIY tools or only industrial ones? If feasible, how?

  • If this was done in a solid piece it's likely done on what's called a spindle moulder, like a large router but on steroids. They're extraordinarily powerful (and dangerous).
    – Graphus
    Dec 30, 2018 at 9:59
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    Regardless of how it was done commercially no small-scale professional woodworker or home woodworker would approach this as a single operation. This sort of thing is easily built up from individual router profiles, and if necessary by assembling individually made pieces. I would make the top flat portion and the bottom 'base' bit separately and glue them together. The challenge is in finding the smaller router bits that fit the parts of the profile.
    – Graphus
    Dec 30, 2018 at 10:02
  • @Graphus: this is an excellent idea, this can be converted to an answer. I have the right router bits to do so. Dec 30, 2018 at 12:44
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    CNC it! :) (My new favorite tool that, while awesome, makes everything take twice as long as it otherwise might.)
    – 3Dave
    Dec 30, 2018 at 21:06
  • @3Dave : Nice idea, I still have a long way to go owing and mastering a CNC yet.. Jan 2, 2019 at 2:49

2 Answers 2


Commercially this type of deep profile will often be created using a spindle moulder1, a floor-standing machine sort of like a router table on steroids.

But no small-scale professional woodshop or home woodworker would approach this as a single operation. Instead the profile would be broken up into portions that can be formed by separate shaping operations that can be accomplished one by one (usually but not exclusively by using a router and various bits2) and if necessary also by making separate pieces that get joined together at the end.

For this for example the top flat portion would be best made separately, so that the deep undercut beneath it doesn't have to be created by removing a large volume of wood from a very thick piece. Then the fatter bottom portion would be shaped with perhaps three or four router shaping operations, then the two pieces glued together. The challenge is in finding router bits that fit portions of the profile and in figuring out the correct order to do the shaping operations — sorry to skip over details here but this is a subject a little beyond the scope of an Answer here, an entire chapter in a router book might be devoted to it.

1 Spindle moulders are big, heavy, expensive, noisy and considered extremely dangerous.

2 In the past these would have been done primarily using wooden moulding planes, which is why traditional workshops needed a sizeable storage area as they needed lots and lots of them (sometimes hundreds), each size of each type of profile often needing its own plane. Some hand-tool fans still do small-scale production moulding using moulding planes.

  • "would be best made separately" - (also) based on this I found youtube.com/watch?v=CaQSuavDdYg Jan 2, 2019 at 22:07
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    Yes! It was actually a StumpyNubs video that immediately made me think of doing this as smaller operations because I happened to see it just last week, although the method is well described in router books. And if you've ever seen Norm Abrams (New Yankee Workshop), he used to do this a fair bit to make up crown mouldings.
    – Graphus
    Jan 3, 2019 at 6:31

As a one-off, my first hunch was to lop off big chunks with a hand saw, then go at it with a spokeshave. It looks like most of it can be done reasonably along grain-lines.

If you know the radius, make a 1/4-round sanding block (sandpaper plane) by either making a radiused router sled or cutting something on a table saw with an appropriate-sized blade (6 inch blade for 3 inch radius).

Hard, physically demanding, but ambiguous, cheap (a crappy spokeshave is probably cheaper than a nice router bit) and satisfying.

Radiusing a fretboard/fingerboard will give you some resources on how the sandpaper plane is made (you may even find one that suits your needs)


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