Shop Skills #6: Holding and Routing Small Profile Mouldings

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Blog entry by Todd A. Clippinger posted 10-27-2009 06:09 PM 5767 reads 6 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Using Toner to Add or Change Color Part 6 of Shop Skills series Part 7: Cutting Small Pieces on the Compound Miter Saw »

An Opportunity to Share

While creating some detail mouldings for cabinet doors and drawers, I realized this would be a great opportunity to share how I handle these smaller pieces.

Detail mouldings finished

Simple But Safe

The methods that I use are very simple but create safe handling in a small production setting.

My work table is not a traditional style woodworking bench, it has a solid laminate top without bench dog holes. I like the clean solid surface for the type of work that I do.

This would appear to leave me with a lack of any methods for holding my work, especially small pieces. But I have some simple methods for holding my work that are quite effective.

The Problem

When routing a profile on the stock, if it is not held in place it will drift away from the router bit. It needs to be stopped on the ends and on the opposite side of the workpiece from the cut.

We need to keep the workpiece clear of obstacles. The router fence needs to stay off of the table edge and if you are using a router with a guide bearing, the bearing may need to have clearance from the table surface.

Here you can see how the piece migrates away from the router and the router fence will end up riding against the table.

Workpiece moves away from router

The Solution

The solution is simple. I use stop blocks that have 90° cutouts in them to capture the corners of the work piece. These are clamped to the table with enough space to easily place and remove the workpiece.

The stops in place

The rules are simple, the stop has to be lower than the stock you are holding and it has to allow clearance for a router fence to enter and exit the ends. It is also important to realize that the stock is wide enough to safely remain on the table and the small profile will be removed from the stock at the tablesaw.

Clearance for the router

Clearance on ends for router fence

The stops do not need to clamp tight against the workpiece, they only need to act as a stop on both ends (hence the name.) You can leave a gap of 1/8” for ease of changing out the pieces and this is important when you have several pieces to work as in a small production run.

Stops holding small piece

For this particular project I had stacks of short and long pieces to rout. I ran all of the short ones and then moved the stop to allow for holding the longer pieces.

You may wonder why I did not set up the router table. This could be done but I had to do a lot of climb cutting due to the difficult grain. Climb cutting is easier for me to do while holdinging a router on the workpiece rather than holding the workpiece on the router table. This worked best for this situation.

Other Uses

After routing the profile I needed to do a bit of sanding to clean up the profile. I used a stop placed at one end to hold the workpiece for sanding. This avoids the need to clamp the piece and possibly even move the clamp for access to work the full length of the profile.

I had several pieces to sand so this made sanding, changing sides, and swapping out workpieces a quick exercise.

Sanding the profile

I hope this gives you some ideas for working in your shop.

Share the Love~Share the Knowledge

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

22 comments so far

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5215 days

#1 posted 10-27-2009 06:19 PM

Thank you, Todd.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View a1Jim's profile


118144 posts in 4493 days

#2 posted 10-27-2009 06:22 PM

View Greg Wurst's profile

Greg Wurst

797 posts in 4748 days

#3 posted 10-27-2009 06:23 PM

I have the same type of table setup. Good advice on the workpiece supports.

-- You're a unique and special person, just like everyone else.

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 4937 days

#4 posted 10-27-2009 06:28 PM

Good tips Todd.

p.s. how do you work around the bearing set screw? ( touching the table surface)

That’s on of the reasons I generally use the router table.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View woodworm's profile


14477 posts in 4506 days

#5 posted 10-27-2009 06:35 PM

Thanks for sharing the tricks & tips!

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 4702 days

#6 posted 10-27-2009 06:57 PM

very informative and might save a finger or two for someone.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 5015 days

#7 posted 10-27-2009 06:57 PM

Bob#2 – Take note that the edge of the workpiece hangs over the edge of the table to provide that clearance.
That also means the stock must be wide enough to remain on the table.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4588 days

#8 posted 10-27-2009 07:44 PM

Nice work!

View Jack Barnhill's profile

Jack Barnhill

366 posts in 4281 days

#9 posted 10-27-2009 07:45 PM

Thanks Todd. I’m glad you explained your reason for not doing this on a router table as that is the method that I have used for making small trim pieces. Good tip.

-- Best regards, Jack -- I may not be good, but I'm slow --

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 4937 days

#10 posted 10-27-2009 07:53 PM

Right you are Todd.
I was looking at the second picture and that made me wonder.
Funny how you mind dosent see the differnece in th following pics.
I’m getting too old for this . <g>


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4790 days

#11 posted 10-27-2009 08:05 PM

Hmmm… interesting. As soon I was thinking why not use a router table I read: “You may wonder why I did not set up the router table. This could be done but…”

-- Happy woodworking!

View jlsmith5963's profile


297 posts in 4264 days

#12 posted 10-27-2009 10:39 PM

One part of my typical profile routing process is to use multiple passes that reduces the likelihood of tear out and allows for a final ‘thin’ clean up pass. My process always includes multiple passes which means either raising the bit or adjusting the fence (I use a spacer method for fence adjustments). Your demonstration doesn’t address this although the profile looks like one that would benefit from a multi-pass process. I would be interested to hear from you whether you were making that profile in one pass.

-- criticism: the art of analyzing and evaluating the quality of an artistic work...

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 5015 days

#13 posted 10-27-2009 11:18 PM

jlsmith – Thanks for bringing up the multiple passes. I used two different bits with multiple passes (4) on each to achieve the profile and get as little tear out as possible.

Believe me, very difficult grain on this stock.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 4201 days

#14 posted 10-27-2009 11:38 PM

Good Tips, Thanks Todd

-- John @

View Karson's profile


35229 posts in 5316 days

#15 posted 10-28-2009 02:12 AM

Todd a great tip. Is the wooden fence attached to your router?

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

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