Veneered Sofa Table #3: Legs and the Mysterious Lock Miter

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Blog entry by SPHinTampa posted 11-04-2011 06:39 PM 7083 reads 2 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Pressing the Veneered Panels Part 3 of Veneered Sofa Table series Part 4: The foot bone is connected to the leg bone ... »

Next step in the process is to create the profiled legs.

I start with the stock that I milled earlier. Fortunately, I was able to get pieces that could be finished to 7/8” rather than 3/4”. Slightly thicker pieces will leave room for a nice profile and adequate room for joinery.

I install a profile bit and make a few test cuts until it looks right to me.

Because tear out is bad on end grain, I like to route the end grain before ripping to final width.

I had a little trouble with router burn on the profile, despite taking two passes to make the cut.

This is where the incra jig comes in really handy. I use the micro adjust feature to retract fence a few thousands of an inch (5/1000”) and re cut. And the burn is mostly gone.

I then rip the legs to final width

And then route the long grain sides for a nice, clean profile on all four sides.

I now have 8 leg pieces, each with a profile on all four sides.

I then double check that I have enough room for the joinery. My lock miter bit requires at stock of at least 1/2” thickness. You may be wondering why I do not set up for a 7/8” cut. I do not want cut into the profile at the corners, it does not look as good. So essentially the profile sits on top of the joined sections. This is easier than using built up moldings.

Install the Lock Mitre bit and dial down the router speed (bit is 2 1/4” wide)

I love Bill Hylton’s books on the router. His books have been big influence on work. I hope this project does him justice. I know that Pat Warner and Gary Rogowksi are also very good.

Using Bill’s techniques, I start by centering the bit on my test piece of 1/2” plywood (really 31/64”)

I set the fence for the initial cut, erring on the side of cutting too little (e.g. I do not want the route bit to change the length of my stock).

I make cuts on two test pieces. This is a big bit making a large cut, so I use a sacrificial push block to prevent tear out.

Bit is set too high so pieces do not join flush

I cut of the ends and redo the joint.

And I get a match – you don’t care at this stage if there are gaps in the joint. You just need them to join flat.

Now that I have the height right, I adjust fence distance. Goal is to cut the profile with a clean edge without removing too much materials (over cutting profile). Basically, you cut along the length of your test piece and see what you have. Cut is too shallow if miter cut is blunt. Cut is too deep if the profile is changing the width of the work piece. In this case, the cut is too shallow.

So I keep trying …

Until I get a nice clean knife edge.

The end result is very satisfying because it fits like a glove.

After all this work, I save a set up block for future use.

I then route four pieces flat against bit and four pieces vertically against the fence.

The end result is a joint that is very strong, even before glue is applied.

-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn

4 comments so far

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 3786 days

#1 posted 11-04-2011 07:02 PM

Thats a nice look. Good setup.

View JRL's profile


104 posts in 2538 days

#2 posted 11-05-2011 01:39 AM

Those joints are perfect. Thanks for a great pic-tutorial. I appreciate your contribution.

-- Jay in Changsha

View Ampeater's profile


440 posts in 3746 days

#3 posted 11-05-2011 02:53 PM

Thanks for posting this. Do you think that it would look OK on a Hope Chest?

-- "A goal without a plan is a wish."

View SPHinTampa's profile


567 posts in 3684 days

#4 posted 11-07-2011 04:36 PM


These joints are good any place that a miter joint would get used but you want strength as well. The joints are not exposed in my design. However, for a hope chest, I am assuming that you would be using them for the box sides and/or any drawers or trays.

If you are going to have the ends exposed, you need to make sure that you have a backer block behind the piece when you cut the joint, as the tongue can split out at the end of the cut. Otherwise I think they would look fine.

-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn

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