Cove Cutting

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Dramatic curves from your table saw

Wide, sweeping coves such as those found in crown molding and raised panels are a hallmark of good woodworking. But how do you achieve them without a large-scale molding machine? On the table saw, of course.

Cutting coves on a machine used primarily for ripping, crosscutting, and joinery is unorthodox. But if done correctly, it’s a safe and efficient method. Essentially, you run a workpiece along a fence and diagonally over the blade in a series of shallow passes, to take advantage of the blade’s curvature.

Adjusting the height of the blade and the feed angle of the piece varies the depth and width. While the resulting cut requires a lot of sanding to remove the saw marks, the technique offers more versatility than stock profiles on cutters you’d use in a router or shaper.

While there is no magic in setting up to cut coves, a parallelogram jig simplifies the process. In this article, I’ll demonstrate how to set up and cut coves—and half-coves—first using typical layout tools, then with the jig.

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