Cove Molding

IMG_3798Every piece of furniture is made more beautiful by enhancing it with moldings. Some moldings are very extravagant while others are modest. In my case, I needed some crown molding but didn’t want one with with a bunch of ogee, beads, and fillet profiles. I wanted just a nice clean sweeping cove molding. So I decided to make my own.

The trick to making your own cove molding is to use the table saw. One may not think that a curve can be cut on a machine that was made to cut wood in straight lines. But using some basic geometry a straight line and be bent to a curve. Here’s how.

Instead of pushing a board straight into the blade the board will be pushed into it at an angle. Depending on the angle of approach and the angle tilting of the blade results in numerous styles of coves and sweeps.

Now some caution needs to be exercised to do this method. The guard and riving knife have to be removed. The boards to guide the stock must be clamped down on both sides of the workpiece being pushed through. And the most important rule is to not try and make this in one pass! Slowly raise the blade in increments of 1/16” – ⅛” at a time. Lastly, don’t have the blade cut all the way through. That could be disastrous.


Once my angles are decided upon, I always start with a test piece. Generally the approach angle will change mostly the width of the cove. And the blade angle will change the sweep of the cove. Of course, the blade height will change the depth and width of the cove.  Play with the approach angles and blade angles until you have a cove that is pleasing to you. In this case, I had a blade angle of 45 degrees and approach angle of 30 degrees.




IMG_3752As the work stock is being pushed through keep downward pressure applied to the work piece and also use a push stick as you follow through. Listen to the sound of the saw so it is not working too hard.  IMG_3753

Once the desired shape of the cove is made, the stock will be flipped over. Use the table saw fence, and till the blade to 45 degrees .



IMG_3755Rip both sides of the stock with the cove facing up.







IMG_3789And turn the board over and do it again with the cove facing down.

For all intensive purposes the crown molding is made.






IMG_3766But it’s not complete. The sever angle approach to make the cove leaves a lot of saw marks that need to be removed.










IMG_3772The majority of the saw marks are removed with a curved (goose-neck) card scraper.

Then it has to be sanded.






IMG_3768A palm or orbital sander won’t fit in here so a custom sanding block is made. I’m using a scrap piece of 2×4 but other materials such as styrofoam insulation could work.

IMG_3769I traced the profile onto the 2×4 and using my rabbet plane I shave it to the pencil lines.




IMG_3770Using contact adhesive, glue the sandpaper on to the sanding block. Repeat and do the same for the different grades of sandpaper. IMG_3774






IMG_3777When it’s done you have a very nice cove crown molding and it will make you so happy you will want to dance!