Custom Fluted Corbels with a Router Jig
Traveling around the country for carpentry clinics, I’ve taken photos of historic homes and used the results to inspire many Greek-revival-style trim projects. However, the one thing that has always stopped me from tackling a high-style Italianate pediment is finding the right corbels. Some of them are plain S-curves or ogee shapes, many are too ornamental, and most are just too big. Eventually, I figured out a way to make corbels that I like. Using this same technique, I can make a variety of corbel designs whose features range from chamfered to coved to rabbeted flutes.
First, create a template on a piece of 1/2-in. Baltic-birch plywood. Then trace the profile on each workpiece—in this case, 3/4-in. by 4-in. Honduras mahogany. Next, cut just outside the line with a bandsaw. To make sure the flutes are centered and the overall width is less than 3-1/2 in. wide (narrow, elongated…
First pass: Use a bearing-guided pattern bit with a plywood template.
Second pass: Remove the template, and ride the pattern bit along the first cut.
Final pass: Turn over the corbel, and ride a bottom-bearing bit along the previous cut.