Profiling a Curve into a 6x6 Blank

      A furnituremaker gets advice on machining large, heavy pieces with a simple curve. August 26, 2008

I need suggestions on the best methods of generating shapes like the one below. The end result needs to at least appear to be solid wood.

The dimensions are in inches. The profile shapes are already being laser cut for the same project in a different material (so, I could laminate those to get the length I need), but I was hoping I could maybe shape a block lengthwise and would like to know best practices for that. Any advice would be great.

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Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor F:
A couple passes through the shaper would take care of that. Depending on your inside radius, you may be able to find an off-the-shelf cutter. The outside radius, I'm guessing, would be a custom profile. And you could do it out of solid wood if you choose to.

From contributor J:
Depends on how many pieces you need. If you only want one of them, it would be quick and cheap to do the outside radius with hand tools (a plane). A shaper would be the way to go if you had to make a lot of them. I know some will say CNC, especially since you're digitally inclined, but that's not my department.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. So, would it be possible to take a 6x6 and run it through the shaper - so the entire length of the timber had that profile? That would be handy because I use these shapes in multiple lengths and I could chop it into whatever segment lengths I need. I'm new to the shaper and I believe I may have access to one.

From contributor P:
There are a couple of basic ways to do this. I would remove the bulk of the material by using a table saw set at 45 degrees. Next, I would run it through the shaper with the 45 degree face against the fence. You will have to have a custom cutter or knife made to do this. It would look like a partial half round, 3.0 in radius. It would only take one pass this way. You could also use a 3.0 radius quarter round cutter, but it would be big and expensive. It should be run on a 5hp machine with power feeder etc, but may not be safe for a new shaper operator. So that is why I would opt for my first method. A tilting arbor shaper would work too, but you would still need a custom knife and knifehead. The small cove would be the final pass. You could easily run any lengths this way.

From contributor A:
Turn it on a lathe and saw with a bandsaw. Joint the two faces and router the groove with a cove cutter mounted in a router.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for all the info/ideas. These profiles would probably need to be cut from a 6x6 or close to it. What type of wood, that's available in such sizes, would you recommend for furniture/this project?

From contributor J:
Furniture grade wood isn't often sold in dimensions that large because it would be so time consuming and expensive to dry it. Chunks that large are usually glued up from several pieces, so you can use whatever you like.

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