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jminsocal's picture

I am trying to make a picture frame, but instead of a standard miter joint (which I will spine) I want my joint to have sort of a curvy, s-like contour. I have made a template for one side of the miter, and thought I could use my router, with a pattern bit, to shape the matching piece, but it is not coming out right. It must have something to do with the offset produced by the 1/2" bit. I've been scratching my head for a while now, but can't seem to figure out how to make it work. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

roc's picture

Etc. (post #170649, reply #1 of 8)


Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. Abraham Lincoln ( 54° shaves )

JB_____'s picture

Thought I had something good. (post #170649, reply #7 of 8)

Thought I had something good. Turned out to be indigestion.

RalphBarker's picture

Curved and coped (post #170649, reply #2 of 8)

Or, . . .

I'm unclear on why one would wish to complicate an otherwise precision joint, but I think the approach would depend on the profile of the frame pieces. That is, if the stock already has a face profile, layout and cutting becomes even more complicated.

My first thought was that trying to pattern-rout end grain on a frame member would be inherently dangerous - much too easy for the bit to grab the wood and sling it back in one's face.

On flat stock, one could lay out the 45° line, then add the desired pattern along that line. Then, cut with a coping or scroll saw and file/sand the edge smooth. The finished edge would then be the initial pattern for the matching piece, which would be similarly hand finished to fit. Thinking through the process, the challenge I see is adjusting the fit such that a 90° still results. The next challenge would be to get the corresponding pieces to be the same length, so the entire frame is still square.

Ralph Kolva's picture

Do you need 2 templates? (post #170649, reply #3 of 8)

At the Red Rocks Community College Fine Woodworking program for the Furniture 1 class we have students make a joinery puzzle frame that includes an ogee bridle joint.  To cut the joint we use a template for each side of the joint and they must be an exact male/female match, otherwise the joint will not close tightly on the ogee.  To get an exact match we use automotive Bondo to final shape the mating template, a little unorthodox but works well and is fairly quick, takes about 15 minutes to make the templates.  Perhaps the the method we use to get the templates may be what you're looking for.

- cut your template stock the exact width of your frame stock, will need template stock for both a male and female template

- layout, cut and clean (sand) one side of the ogee layout, doesn't matter which side but for the explanation I'll call it the male template

- using the cleaned up side trace the mating template and rough cut it to your layout leaving the edge rough so that the Bondo will adhere to the profile.  this would be the female template

- coat the male template with petroleum jelly so the Bondo does not adhere to it.  Prepare an area to lay the 2 templates at right angles once you have the Bondo ready.  You'll need a flat surface the Bondo will not adhere to, wax paper over mdf works well, several clamps and a square.  Clamp the male template in place.

- mix the Bondo and liberally coat the female template, press the female template to the male template getting good squeeze out to ensure that the Bondo is matching the profile across the entire contour.  When the Bondo starts setting you can carefully scrape the excess off the template being careful not to disturb your profile.  Once the Bondo is fully cured the templates are ready to use.

I've found the white or gray Bondo to work a little better than the black stuff.

jminsocal's picture

Thanks for the feedback. I (post #170649, reply #4 of 8)

Thanks for the feedback. I still think a solution can be found involving a router that uses the male template to cut the female template, but I might just try that Bondo trick.

kevoinidaho's picture

Hey Ralph (post #170649, reply #5 of 8)

Hey Ralph, are you teaching at Red Rocks? I hope I don't violate message board rules but, this is your old climbing partner Kevin and I finally decided to track down one of the only good friends I have ever had. Sounds like you know your stuff and I know you, you wouldn't give advice unless you know for a fact what you are talking about. Are you still building Shaker style? kev

Ralph Kolva's picture

Give me a call sometime (post #170649, reply #6 of 8)

Hi Kevin, never thought I would run into somebody I knew on this site, great to hear from you!  Been wondering what you were up a lot over the past decade or so.

I've been working part time as a Teaching Assistant in the Fine Woodworking program at Red Rocks Community College for not quite 2 years now, doesn't pay much but it is fun!  Would like to get a teaching position but there's a good bit of competition for just a few postions, we'll see.

Send me an email sometime and let's try to get together or at least talk sometime.  Email is my first name + last name at


Great hearing from you!

Routerman's picture

Same DNA different shape. (post #170649, reply #8 of 8)

Same DNA different shape. There are at least 2 FWW articles on this. One is mine (maybe FWW88). it adresses the general solution.

The other is job and jig targeted and the flat miter is the example used.