Cove Cuts on the Table Saw

A table saw can be used to produce cove cuts for moldings and trays. It takes just a little set up and practice. Here’s how I used a table saw to do cove cuts for a pencil tray. 1. First, I decide on the depth and width of the cove cut/pencil tray. I decided on 5/8″ deep and 2-1/4″ wide.
2. I made a long rectangle frame out of scrap 1/2″ plywood. I used 1-1/2″ wide strips (Just because that was the width of my scrap.) The frame is used to locate a temporary fence that is clamped to the saw for the cove cut. I laid them out the scrap wood in parallel 2-1/4″ apart and attached strips at each end. I made sure the right side cross pieces were flush w/the right side so they wouldn’t interfere w/any straight edge or fence that might be used later. (Photo 1)
3. Then, I raised the saw blade 5/8″ and straddled the blade w/the frame – the top left inner frame touching the top of the blade where it comes out of the table and the bottom right inner frame touching the blade where it comes out of the table.Now I had the angle in relationship to the saw blade to make the cove cut 5/8″ deep and 2-1/4″ wide.
4. Next, I placed a piece of masking tape on the table saw at the top right and bottom right sides of the frame and marked the outside edge of the frame. Now I had reference marks on the table saw with the correct angle.
5. I placed a piece of plywood to use as a fence parallel to the marks at a proper distance to position the cove cut on the stock.
6. I started out with the blade set at about 1/8-in. and made a pass. I made sure to use a push stick. This IS an aggressive use of a spinning table saw blade. I kept raising the blade a little at a time and made as many passes as were needed, removing only a small amount of material with each pass.
7. The only thing left to do would be to rip and cross cut the finished stock to fit the drawer. The blade will leave significant marks in the cove cut, which will need to be sanded out.

Photos By Author

Jerry “Jake” Seabaugh is a registered member of the WWGOA. See more of Jake’s woodwork at his website, Saw Dust by Jake.

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