Routing for Perfect Tread Returns, Images 9-19

Make the Wood Router Template: It’s important to do this step carefully: The smoother the template, the better the fit. First I use a spiked tracing wheel (typically used to transfer patterns to fabric) to transfer the drawing from the paper to my template material — a scrap piece of pine in this case.

Make the Wood Router Template: I smooth the lines with the French curve before carefully cutting the pattern out with a saber saw.

Make the Wood Router Template: I leave just a little bit of the line, then sand the cut smooth to the line with a belt sander.

Make the Wood Router Template: At this point the top edge of the pattern perfectly matches the line, so I use a top-bearing pattern cutter to remove inconsistencies.

Make the Wood Router Template: I leave the edge of the pattern flat and perpendicular to the top. I now have a single pattern that I will use to make both the return and the tread. Ordinarily, if I were making several matching treads, I would use the router's template guide to make two patterns from this template — one for treads and one for returns — then use these patterns to make the parts with a flush-trim bearing bit. In this case, however, I had only one tread to make, so I used the pine template to make both the tread and the return.

Rout the Return: The trick here was to set up my router with the smallest bit I have — a 1/ 8-inch spiral bit — so as to remove as little wood as possible between the mating parts. The 1/4-inch template guide would keep the offset distance from the template to a minimum. I usually make my returns out of tread stock — you can get a lot of returns out of one tread!

Rout the Return: I orient my pattern parallel with the grain and attach it with two screws.

Rout the Return: I rout the front part of the joint line between the return and the tread interface.

Rout the Return: Since the return extends beyond the tread, I have to reposition the pattern — which is only as wide as a tread — to cut the tail end of the return.

Rout the Return: I slide the pattern along the pencil mark so that it makes a smooth transition, reattach it with the screws, and finish the cut.

Rout the Return: Before cutting out the return, I transfer the outline of its outside edge with the tracing wheel.

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