How to Make Stopped Chamfers

stopped chamfers in post and balusters The stopped chamfer is an elegant and easy-to-make detail, commonly used on furniture, cabinets, railing balusters and posts.

Stopped chamfers are fast and easy to make using a table-mounted router with a 45 degree chamfering bit, especially if you need several identical pieces.

In this example, the goal is to mill 1/4” wide stopped chamfers on all four edges of a railing baluster that start 2 1/2” from each end. Since the detail stops a set distance from each end of the work piece, the piece needs to be cut to final length before milling.

Here’s what to do: 

  • Stopped chamfer startInstall the chamfering bit and line up the fence with the roller guide on the router bit.
  • Mark pencil lines on the fence about 3” left and right as measured from the centre of the bit – these are your start and stop lines.
  • Start with a test piece to check your marks, practice your technique and determine the correct feed rate to avoid burning or tearing.
  • stopped chamfer stopSet the blank on the table at an angle to the fence. The left end (start of cut) should be in line with the left mark and about an inch away from the fence. The right end of the piece should be against the fence, which acts as the pivot point as you start the cut
  • Turn on the router. Hold the stock firmly and pivot it into the bit, keeping the left end in line with the mark on the fence. As stopped chamfer finishthe end touches the fence begin sliding the piece smoothly past the cutter.  When the right end reaches the right pencil mark, pivot away from the bit to stop the cut.
  • Rotate the piece towards you (or the fence) and repeat the operation on the other three edges.
  • There may be some wood fibres left at the end point. Use a sharp utility knife to trim them off – cutting towards the chamfer.
  • Sand them by hand with 100 -150 grit paper and a sanding block. Pay particular attention to any open grain areas. If you’re going to use stain instead of paint a final sanding with 220 grit paper is recommended.

Alternative technique

Here’s another technique to try if the end of the cut is not as clean as you need:

  • Set up the router and begin the cut as described above.
  • Pivot the work piece away from the fence at the half way point.
  • Flip the piece end for end, and repeat the procedure from the starting point until you meet the previous cut.

If the router and bit are properly set up, the chamfered edge should be consistent throughout the length, and both ends of the chamfer will be clean.woodmagazine article screenshot

Hand-held Router

A similar technique is used to make stopped chamfers with a hand-held router.

In this case, you need to clamp start and stop blocks to the work piece or bench, and the move the router along the piece. has a great article that explains how to make stops for creating precision stopped chamfers with a hand-held router.

More Elaborate Stops

Some woodworkers prefer to use traditional hand tools such as spokeshaves and planes to make stopped chamfers, especially if they want to incorporate beveled or more elaborate stops such as a lamb’s tongue.

See How to Make Stopped Flutes on a Router Table

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