Routing hard wood challenges #1: Climbing cut vs. possible board split

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Blog entry by Jason Watts posted 07-12-2012 02:04 PM 3546 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Fellow Jocks,

First, I want to thank you for reading this and offering your wisdom.

I am a novice woodworker and have come up with a hurdle in my current project. I am building a cradle out of Red Oak, which is the hardest wood I’ve worked with so far. The problem I am having is routing around curves. If I route into the grain on a curve, my wood keeps splitting and ruining the piece I’m working with. (see picture)

On the other hand, I’ve tried doing a climbing cut to keep this from happening, but the wood is so hard that my router keeps wanting to take off (climb) and the jolts from the climb also split or bugger up the wood. (sigh)


-- - In Christ

8 comments so far

View Enoelf's profile


192 posts in 2315 days

#1 posted 07-12-2012 02:25 PM

I am by no means an expert with the router; there are plenty of them here though, but would it be possible to route your piece halfway through the curve, then flip it and route the other half? That would prevent you from feeding “into” the grain.
Intriguing problem.
I am interested in what solutions are presented….

-- Central Ohio, Still got 9 and 15/16 fingers!

View Jason Watts's profile

Jason Watts

34 posts in 2305 days

#2 posted 07-12-2012 02:30 PM

Hello Enoelf,

That is an excellent solution, which points out I forgot to add a major detail. I am flush trimming and only have a flush trim bit with a ball bearing at the bottom. If I flip the piece over, I cannot flush trim anymore. If I seperate the two pieces, I risk not lining them up properly again. Maybe that is a risk I should take.

-- - In Christ

View sras's profile


4822 posts in 3181 days

#3 posted 07-12-2012 02:40 PM

I have had similar issues. Here are a few things that work for me.

Remove material until you are very close to the final line. This has been the best solution for me. I have used hand files, a disc sander and drum sanders mounted in my drill press. Less than a 1/16” of an inch is best.

Take shallow cuts. Raise the bit as high as you can and still be able to follow your pattern. Then lower the bit a little and then make another pass. 1/4” at a time has worked for me.

Even with all that, you can still end up with blow outs. If that still happens you can fix it. I have been working on a project where I have had several repairs needed.

This blog entry shows several repair examples.

Another entry in the same series shows the failure that you are most likely having. You can see how close I was to the line in this post. That was not close enough.

Also, while you are routing, take time to clean up from time to time. If you do have a chunk of wood fly off, you have a better chance of finding it and gluing it back in.

If you do need to glue a patch back in, make sure it fits tightly. If there are gaps, they will show up later. A better option would be to smooth out the damaged area and glue in a new patch of similar wood.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View sras's profile


4822 posts in 3181 days

#4 posted 07-12-2012 02:41 PM

Just saw you last post about the bearing being on the bottom of your bit. That will rule out the “raise the bit” option!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View derosa's profile


1577 posts in 2888 days

#5 posted 07-12-2012 02:51 PM

A coupe options that I have used it to move the piece in and out of the bit making spots of routed pieces, think of scalloping the edges. I first do far apart scallops and then fill in between, once there isn’t a lot of material left between the scallops then I finish the task. This way there is never too much material to grab. The other is to make smaller passes alternating between regular and climb cuts based on where you are cutting. Focus on doing all the places that are easy to do with regular cutting and then do the in between places with climb cuts. With purpleheart which grabs easily and splinters quickly I found the first method works the best.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View Jason Watts's profile

Jason Watts

34 posts in 2305 days

#6 posted 07-12-2012 02:56 PM

All excellent advice. Thanks for investing your time to this.

Back to the project!

-- - In Christ

View Charles Maxwell's profile

Charles Maxwell

1099 posts in 3859 days

#7 posted 07-12-2012 03:01 PM

I switched cutter bits. I use spiral cutting bits to avoid this tear out issue. Might work for you too.

-- Max the "night janitor" at

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3050 days

#8 posted 07-12-2012 03:35 PM

I would see about getting another bit with a larger bearing (or multiple bearings for that bit) for the router which will leave the piece a bit oversize. Then a pass with the exact size bearing bearing. That way the final pass will be taking off very little material.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

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