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Cornering tool

In a world where power tools dominate most shops, hand tools can still help us out. For instance, a cornering tool, beautiful in its simplicity, does the same job as a router round-over bit, but it does it with no setup, sawdust, or noise.  A cornering tool can actually cut a cleaner radius, without the machining marks you get with a spinning router bit.

A cornering tool, basically a small, simple molding plane, cuts with either a push or pull stroke. The two fixed fences, ground into the hardened steel with the cutters, stop the tool at the proper radius .

You can keep these cutters performing like new with a specially designed sharpening block.  Each edge of the sharpening tool corresponds to one of the 1/16″, 1/8″, 3/16″, or 1/4″ radius cutters as shown in the diagram.

Sharpener for Cornering Tools

You can get a set with a sharpening kit for $30, or you can buy just the two cornering tools for $15 — they’re a fine addition to any woodworker’s toolbox.

Cornering Tool Set [Lee Valley/Veritas]
Cornering Tool Set [Woodcraft]


5 Responses to Cutting Corners With A Cornering Tool

  1. Mark says:

    Nice! You probably want to make sure you go the right direction with respect to the grain. Is that the sharpening tool near the top of the picture? Too much sharpening and you might change the radius?

  2. Good point about grain direction. Many times using power tools, we lose the “feeling of the wood,” we don’t really think much about grain direction (except maybe when it is really wild), but using hand tools you always need to be conscience of it.

    Yeah that grey rounded block on top is the sharpening tool. The diagram shows its profile.

    I’m not really sure what would happen with too much sharpening, but my gut feeling is that the radius would stay the same(if you used the sharpening block), but you’d start to take bigger and bigger shavings as you sharpen it. The tool would eventually have to be replaced.

  3. Fred says:

    When Stanley was more of a toolmaker (in US and England) than a conglomerate holding company – they made these as cornering shaves.
    Their No. 28 had 1/16 and 1/8 radii. Their No. 29 had 1/4 and 3/8.
    Paying attention to the grain was very important – particularly with wood that splinters – like pine. They work on both push and pull strokes.

  4. Jim says:

    These are handy ‘go to’ tools on my woodworking bench. As mentioned, you do have to watch the grain. Fortunately, if they dig in, you backout and go from the other direction, then glue the ‘dig’ back down, holding it with some masking tape. The radius and depth of cut can be controlled by levering the back of the tool. Is maintaining the radius after sharpening a real issue? It would not change much, if at all. But, I am not matching the radii of multiple pieces so this is never an issue.

  5. Teacher says:

    I have some of these and love them. Much easier for rounding off the corners of a new toy box etc than pulling out a router or using the router table.

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