Waterfall edges add a beautiful, and slightly mystifying, touch to furniture. When done correctly the grain will flow, continuously, from a horizontal surface to a vertical surface. Waterfall edges are commonly used for table tops and legs, but can be used any place you’re creating a corner.
When you cut a waterfall edge the cut needs to be perfectly straight, and have really good cut quality. If you’re missing either of these components the joint will have gaps. A track saw, like the Kreg saw system, provides the best method for making the cut.
The joint we need
Waterfall edges are created by cutting a miter joint between the horizontal and vertical surfaces. The miter doesn’t have to result in a 90-degree corner, but it commonly does.
The length of the leg controls the height of the table or bench. You can waterfall both ends of your project, or cut a waterfall on one end and use commercially made legs on the other end.
Getting the grain to flow
The key to a nice waterfall edge, with grain flow as seamless as possible between the two surfaces, is losing as little wood as possible. This is about the kerf of the saw blade. Follow the procedure in the video carefully.
Assembling the waterfall
The miter joint needs to be reinforced, so add some form of loose tenon (biscuits, dowels, dominoes) to the joint to strengthen it. Assemble the joint using clamping cauls.
Kreg’s track saw is part of their Adaptive Cutting System. For more info on Kreg products visit www.kregtools.com or call (800) 447-8638
What’s the name of the track?
You’ll find a link to the track system in the video description.
With all due respect, I have issues with the decision to make a table like this. Hardwood is more expensive than ever and this uses a lot of it to make a very basic, n-shaped table. With over 40 years of woodworking experience, I have little confidence that I could make that miter cut look good enough. The miter joint is inherently unstable and weak (you have to take into consideration that, eventually, somebody’s gonna stand on this thing!). A lock miter glue joint would be my choice to solve that problem and that would require a good router table for that bit, which takes some doing to align correctly. I’ve used it for mitered drawers with good results and prefer it to dovetailing the drawer sides. The lock miter bits only work for the specific thickness of your work piece, so you have to buy the correct size. Running large, long and heavy pieces along a router table can be a separate challenge. I have a DeWalt biscuit saw and alignment has always been sub-optimal for me and joint strength questionable. If you don’t have router table or $1,000 to buy one, use the biscuit saw instead. I don’t have a track saw, but it’s basically a circular saw following a straight edge. I’m sure I could improvise one. If the width of the crosscut is less than 14″, I could do it on safely with my miter saw. Longer than that, I could use my table saw but with the expected less-than-perfect, straight and perpendicular cut. The 45s here have to be absolutely perfect for everything to line up or it will look amateurish. A jointer-planer might help or it could make it worse. Due to the unavoidable kerf loss, the waterfall effect will be less than perfect and honestly, considering all of the work and expense required with this project, nobody but the woodworker will likely even notice, let alone appreciate the challenge of its construction.
I’ve built a lot of tables and prefer a 4-legged frame with stretchers that dovetail into the legs and with the table top secured to the frame with hidden, wooden cleats. Beading can easily be cut on the 2 unused sides of each leg and along the bottoms of the stretchers using a router table for a very professional look. It’s simple, as solid as the wood, looks great and requires just 8 #10 screws to secure the cleats, no other hardware.
The great thing about woodworking is that there are many techniques that can work for projects. As you can see, this technique does work and results in a beautiful waterfall. My home is filled with mitered waterfall edges made with this same technique. The miter joints hold up to adults standing on the projects, and have held up through the years. The important thing is to follow the procedures in the video. Happy woodworking!