Special Techniques Making the Rule Joint

The rule joint is a traditional fine furniture feature used most commonly with tables having one or more drop leaves. When properly executed the joint makes for an especially attractive detail along the edges where the hinged leaves and fixed table surface meet. The design of the joint serves to effectively conceal the hinge plate whether the leaves are in the open or closed position.
The term «rule joint» is believed to have derived from the brass bound folding boxwood rules that were popular from the 1600’s on. The knuckles where these rules folded closely resembled the rule joint. By the time of the William and Mary period the rule joint was quite common.

Although, before the era of power tools, the rule joint was fashioned by hand with molding planes and the scratch beader, the ease of modern methods has made this process impractical. Today’s woodworker can accurately reproduce the rule joint using either the router or the table saw equipped with molding head cutters.

When using the router or router table to make the rule joint, you will need matching cove and round-over bits. Bearing guided bits are best since they will not burn the surface along which the bearing rides. The table saw molding head cutter is also an accurate method for making the rule joint. Most standard cutter sets include the Vi in. cove and round-over cutters which we specify here. paert 2

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