Router Texturing
by David Knipfer

A fun discovery - Picture this "textured" surface

Sometimes the best discoveries drop into our laps as gifts...   with no effort on our part but to recognize them for what they are.

That happened to me today and I'm writing to share it with you in hopes that someone can use the concept.

Anyways...   I was preparing some 'waterfall' figured Bubinga for drawer fronts.   I wanted a curved recess across the fronts so I set up to do a template routing operation to create the curves.

Normally, I would use a spiral straight bit to remove the waste...   but this time I did not want to fight that 90 degree corner at the bottom of the recess...   sooo...

I decided instead to use a
  • 1/4" roundnose bit in hopes that it would leave an acceptable radius in my recess.

  • The normal technique here is to
  • take a light pass, following the template outline,
  • then wiggle the router back and forth to clean up the waste material internal to the templates.

  • I did that first pass...   and
  • when I lifted the router up to see what I had missed I was amazed at what I saw...

  • The roundnose bit...
  • having a radiused profile obviously... had left the most wonderful, organic curvy texture to the surface everywhere that I had 'missed' cleaning up the waste.

  • I had never seen that with a straight bit... that bit leaves sharp angular chunks of timber behind that are begging to be wiped clean.

    Here is a photo of the operation somewhere mid stream...   (Uhhm...   I put that sawdust there just for you Saddletramp)

  • With a little imagination you can picture these are drawer fronts in a box.

  • I am going to leave that curvy texture just like it is...

  • I can imagine all kinds of neat ways to use this effect...   but I suspect a little bit of the look will go a long ways.

    Now I just hope to not bungle the half-blind dovetails in that hard-as-a-rock Bubinga.

  • I'm going to call it 'router texturing'.

  • It looks way better in real life than that photo shows...   I'm fired up about it.

    When those drawers get fitted into a little box where every other surface is pristine smooth...   I believe the visual and tactile impact of the router texturing is really going to set the box off.

    That...   or people will go running out of my show booth screaming that I'm an idiot.

  • I hit the fuzzy spots with some 320 sandpaper and I'm going to leave it just like that.

  • Thanks for listening.


    Comment from daglenn1960:

    Not to be a 'parade rainer' but this effect has been used in more recent times by sign makers (using routers) to emulate much older sign carving techniques.   You will see it pretty extensively in stone carving as well.   I don't know if it has a name (background texturing?) but it looks quite nice.

    Sign (router) carvers do it much the same way, though often with a 'theme' in mind (cross hatching, regular squiggles, etc.) with various bits (round, v, etc.).


    Knipfer response:

    Hey...   Welcome to the WWA Dave.

    Just goes to show (again) that after 5000 years of WW there is nothing 'new'.

    You are not raining on my parade...   I'm tickled to have come across the technique quite by accident, and am pleased to hear that it has in fact some current applications.

    My squiggles were kind of random with no theme in mind at all.

    Thanks for pitching in with that history of the idea.


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