Cutting rosettes

Posted by jerry on January 16th, 2007 — Posted in DIY, Journal, Woodwork


With the final two bookcases in place and the shelves all cut to size the end is in sight – well kinda. As with any project in wood or textiles the finishing process and embellishments can take up nearly as much time – but then these are the really fun bits that will pull the whole project together.


I wanted something with an architectural feel, but not crassly colonial in style.  But above all, I wanted to cover the joins between the individual units to pull it all together visually.

I planned from the outset that all the uprights would be bridged by 40mm beaded trims in Tasmanian oak. The the long low top of the shelves beneath the window should be edged the same way. And in keeping with the sense of scale, as well as something to rhyme with the previous built in bookcases in the adjoining room (yeah – we’re onto the second room now!).

But what to do about the junctions? I had used rosettes in the other room – commercially bought ones – and they look … well, being honest, they look okay. For now.  But they are expensive at around $10AUS and then you can’t get them smaller than 3 1/2 inches or about 60mm.

This time I would need at least a dozen so I started to look at buying a rosette cutter. Sure enough, with the summer sales in full swing I found one at Carbatec in Fyshwick – the industrial part of Canberra. I had a close look at the cutter head – a very substantial piece of metal, but great value at AUD42.00 plus the rosette blades at AUD22.00 each. I could see that there were several shapes  – but they were all at least 60mm wide. Looking closely at the profile I figured I could do something creative. So I spent some of my Christmas money and realised very quickly that I could not only make exactly what I wanted, but save a pile of money too!

The rosette cutter is not to be taken lightly. I was told in Carbatec that it was for use at SLOW speed in the bench drill only, and under no circumstances should it be used in a router. I could see why. The blade is a friction fit in the cutter head, and at high speed there is a clear danger of the blade coming loose. I read on a forum how someone had been killed by one of these blades – by using it in a router. So it was with some caution that I read the manual first – noting that it says in large threatening letters DO NOT USE IN A ROUTER – drill press or lathe only and then only at between 300-600rpm max.

I set the speed in the drill press, double checked that the blade was secure, installed it in the drill press chuck and then dressed up for combat – face shield, leather apron, dust mask – and gingerly turned the drill press on from the wall. Suddenly… nothing happened – except a nice whirring sound. No rattle, no vibration. It was time to test it on some timber.

Pine was … not brilliant. The coarse grain meant a lot of tearout. I tried increasing the speed to around 510rpm – better but still not what I was after. But I could see that with the right wood it would do okay. I went for some red maple trim leftover from a previous project – it’s light, soft, but close-grained.

And with some experimenting found the right feed rate to minimise any chatter and tearout.


The key to using this is to treat it gently and clamp everything down tight.


You’ll notice I used 40mm wide stock – hence the need for extra care to ensure a slow feed rate. I made sure it was well centred and clamped tight and found that the soft close-grained maple was ideal. But hang on, isn’t the cutter 60mm? And so my plan emerges.


Once I had a row of rosettes (I’m sure you can see why I didn’t cut the stock to size first), all I had to do was slice them off at 60mm lengths


which left me with a bunch of little boats. But with some judicious sanding I was able to keep the central feature, while shaping 40mm wide rosettes.


And I can still make 3 1/2inch rosettes with the same cutter, without modification.

Here they are varnished and ready to decorate the joins on the bookcases – once the varnish dries! And you can see the beaded trim that will go with them.


With twelve completed the rosette cutter has already paid for itself twice over 🙂



Comment by Marty52

Ingenious method for making the rosettes, Jerry. I’ll be watching for the finished product as I’m hoping to have MY hubbie make some for our computer/music/library room. I say the same thing that Sharon said to you… “I was thinking…” to him and he just cringes! ;0)

Posted on January 17, 2007 at 3:44 pm

Comment by Rosettes

The rosettes look beautiful… thanks for sharing your work

Posted on September 5, 2008 at 4:36 am

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