Making Beaded Panels

Equipment and techniques to cut beads in solid wood panels. April 18, 2006

I'm doing a job that calls for cherry beaded door panels, end panels and back panels on a peninsula. What's the best way to make solid wood beaded panels without investing a lot of money in new equipment? I'm looking for a router bit that will cut the profile on the edge then I can glue up 2" boards with profile into panels. I'm also looking for a profile cutter that a can use in my table saw. Any advice on the above or better options will be appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
I use a table saw head cutter, from (don't laugh) Sears. Cut the center, then move the fence 3" (or whatever) and do the next 2 (right & left).That's using glued up 1/2" thick panels.
From contributor B:
Delta makes a nice 3 blade cutter head that you can change out profiles. I make bead board all the time. They have a profile that has 4 small beads on it. I just slide my fence over to cover the other three and it makes a nice bead down one edge. Then, glue another next to it. I often use random width scrap and it makes for a nice look.

From contributor C:
We have used the Delta head many times for exactly as you mention. Keep consistent pressure on the workpiece and if you feed manually make sure you pass the stock at a constant feed. We use the power feed and it takes care of both of these things. You can modify the knives manually if the detail is not exactly what you are looking for. I am not sure if Delta makes one for a 1 inch arbor - I bored ours out on the milling machine so I didnít have to change out our arbors. This is very safe considering youíre primarily protected by the workpiece. Consider tearout and possibly create an insert then raise the cutter to achieve zero clearance. Also note this on the outboard edges and the trailing edge.

From the original questioner:

Thanks for the input! I've had a craftsman cutter head in the shop for years (I think I bought it at a garage sale) but was always afraid to use it since it doesn't look very precise. It had a set of 3 bead (flute) cutters that I ground the outer profiles off. It works great! I usually sub out my doors but they don't put the joints at the grooves.

From contributor D:
I've used an LRH Magic Moulder head in the table saw to bead panels after they are glued up and sanded. I generally start with a center cut on all same width panels, then move the fence and take a pass on each side of the first cut. Repeat until you get close to the outer edge.