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    How to Build a Simple Corbel

    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    Used most often to support custom shelving or the undersides of overhanging countertops, corbels are most often purchased from retailers. They come in a wide array of styles and finishes, and can also be sourced in raw, unfinished wood. Although they aren’t usually particularly expensive, it’s easy to make your own custom corbels out of scraps you may have laying around your workshop. Here’s how to do it.

    How to Make

    Make a Drawing - 1click to enlargeDrawing a corbel pattern

    Make a Drawing - 1: I used graph paper to produce my simple corbel design. I began by drawing two lines that met at 90-degrees, each 10-in. in length. Next, I used the top from a plastic water bottle to tackle the smaller curves. Finally, I found a bowl that had a pleasing diameter and connected by two corners with a nice arc. Super simple.

    Make a Drawing - 1click to enlargeMake a masonite template

    Create a Template: For my application, I needed three corbels. That meant that I needed to create a Masonite template that could be used to transfer the pattern onto multiple blanks which would later be cut. I used a knife to carefully cut the pattern out and glued it onto a scrap of hard-board.

    Make a Drawing - 1click to enlargeFairing a curve with sandpaper

    Cut and Fair the Template: Next, I rough-cut the template at the bandsaw and followed up with a sander and a bit of final hand sanding. Your goal here is to come away with smooth curves--no steps.

    Make a Drawing - 1click to enlargeGluing and clamping a corbel blank

    Prepare the Corbel Blank: To create a 2-in. thick corbel, I laminated two 1-in. thick pieces of oak together. You'll notice that I started with two triangular pieces. I simply applied glue to both sides, clamped it up, and set it aside overnight.

    Make a Drawing - 1click to enlargeBandsaw relief cuts

    Cut the Corbel - Relief Cuts: Now it's time to get down to business. After tracing my pattern onto the oak blank, I made a series of relief cuts at the bandsaw. The tight curves on each of the ends of this corbel make it necessary to prepare these relief cuts--otherwise, your blade will bind as you round some of the tighter curves.

    Make a Drawing - 1click to enlargeBandsawing a curve

    Cut the Corbel - Tackle the Curves: With your relief cuts done, you can go ahead and cut the corbel’s shapely curves out at the bandsaw. Don’t cut right on the line, rather, cut right next to it—as best you can. We’ll clean everything up with sandpaper in the next steps.

    Make a Drawing - 1click to enlargeSanding curves

    Sand the Corbel Curves: With the vast majority of the waste removed at the bandsaw, you can use a drum sander to fair the curves right up to the line. Some areas might require strictly hand sanding or the use of a curved file.

    Make a Drawing - 1click to enlargeEase edges with sandpaper

    Ease the Edges: The sharp edges left behind by the bandsaw and sander need to be eased. The simplest way to do this is with a bit of hand sanding. Work the edges until they feel comfortable to the touch.

    Make a Drawing - 1click to enlargePriming a wood corbel

    Final Finish: I plan to paint these corbels with a white semi-gloss that will match my kitchen cabinetry. I begin by covering the corbels with two coats of primer. Here, I'm sanding with 320-grit sandpaper after the second coat of primer. Next, I'll use a gloss spray paint to give these corbels a nice, smooth finish.