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Q & A: Keep the Crook



Q & A: Keep the Crook


I have some planks with a pronounced crook.The grain is beautiful and I would like to make use of the crook in a desktop design. How can I edge join the boards without loosing the crook?


Joining curved boards is not as hard as it may seem. You’ll need a router with a 1⁄2-in. down-cut spiral bit, $17, and a 5⁄8-in. template guide bushing, $7.50, (available from Woodcraft Supply, 800-533-4482), a jigsaw and a clamping jig wide enough to hold both boards at once.

Lay out the boards in the order they will be glued. Use a jigsaw to rough cut the bark edges on the first board (Board A in Photo 1). Try for a smooth flowing line that’s easy for a router to follow. Abrupt changes in direction will not work with this technique. Overlap the second board with the rough-cut edge of the first. Scribe and cut the second board.

Once you’re satisfied with the look and fit of the rough-cut edges (try for gaps under 1⁄8 in.), it’s time to make the template. Scribe the edge of the first board you cut on a piece of 1⁄2-in. MDF or particleboard that’s as long as the boards you’re joining and almost as wide. Cut the template profile with a jigsaw, then use a belt sander to smooth any irregularities. Clamp the rough-cut boards and template on a clamping jig.

To make the clamping jig in Photo 2, crosscut 2x4s equal in length to the total width of the boards you’re joining. Rip a piece of plywood to that same width. Lay the 2x4s on edge across the plywood like the rungs of a ladder and secure with #8 x 2-in. screws. Make sure there’s a 2x4 flush with each end of the board where holes can be drilled for clamps.

Set the gap between the two boards so the bit takes only 1⁄16-in. from each edge. Follow the template, remove the boards, join with clamps and glue.

Click any image to view a larger version.

First, rough cut the joint.

Then, joint both edges at once.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker December 1999, issue #77.

December 1999, issue #77

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