How to round edges of wood if you don’t have a router

When making furniture and other wooden items, you should pay attention to all the sharp edges – it is often better to round wood edges and make them smooth if possible.

Even if you don’t have the special tool – a router, you can round your edges with another implement of your choice.

The alternatives include sandpaper, a wood file, a rasp, a chisel, a surform, a hand planer, a sander, a jigsaw, and a Dremel.

Tip. Furthermore, you can read more about Types of power saws.

We will describe all of them in this article, and give you some advice on how to round the edges of wood.

How to round edges of wood
Image source:

How to round edges of wood without a router effectively?

Can you actually round wood edges without a router? Yes, if you don’t have a router, but still need to round wooden edges, you can use the methods and tools we will talk about in this article.

None of these methods are as fast and effective as using a wood router, though. If you have lots of wood edges to work on, and you don’t want to spend lots of effort and time on such details, you should invest in a good router.

You can round wood edges either by using hand or power tools. By the time you read our discussion in this article, you’ll be able to consider the different advantages and disadvantages of each method given.

Then you will decide which method might work best for you.

But first, we will quickly touch on such questions as when and why we should round wood edges, how much rounding they need, and how to work on them safely.

How to round edges of wood
Image source:

When should I round wood edges?

Some like it sharp, some like it smooth and rounded. Your choice of edge shape depends on your personal preference.

But it also should depend on the purpose of the piece of furniture you’re making. So, you need to consider some other moments.

The most obvious problem with sharp wooden edges is that your baby, pet, or even yourself can get hurt or injured if the sharp edge gets in the way.


Many times, when an edge is not rounded at all, it becomes so sharp it hurts. Safety is probably the most important thing you need to think of.

Rounded wood edges are also less likely to break. It is really unpleasant when a sharp edge breaks, leaving splinters open to the view. A properly rounded edge does not cause those problems.

How to round edges of wood
Image source:

Quality and appearance

It is that simple – smooth and neat wooden edges are more pleasant and beautiful. Smoothing of the edges also enhances your work’s quality and attractiveness.


Another less obvious reason is that paint sticks to round wood edges better than to sharp edges. If you plan to paint your furniture piece, you should pay attention to this detail.

Let’s wrap it up: rounded edges are more durable, convenient, and pleasant than sharp edges. Thus, you need to learn how to shape rounded edges without a router.

The choice of method depends on the amount of work

Let’s figure out how much rounding your wooden edges need. The method you choose depends on the amount of cutting required, too.

If you only need a slightly rounded edge, all you want is a hand tool, which will make your job even easier and faster than if you were using a wood router.

And, on the other hand, if you want to make a larger curve, you should take a power tool to save your time and energy.

You can even combine several methods in order to achieve larger rounding.

How to round edges of wood
Image source:

What tools and accessories will I need?

The right tools required to round wood edges without a router are easily accessible. You probably already have most of them in your workshop.

Here is a list of the alternatives that we will be discussing in this article:

Hand tools

  • Sandpaper
  • Wood file or rasp
  • Chisel
  • Hand plane
  • Surform

Power tools

Of course, you will also need some common accessories that are always used in woodworking, like a pencil and some clamps.

Tip. Get more useful information about the 10 Best sanders in 2024.

How to round edges of wood
Image source:

Precautions you should take

Make sure you have the proper safety equipment before working on the wood edges.

You need to have at least these three things while doing any sort of woodworking:

  • Protective gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Safety glasses

Here are some simple things you need to remember.

If you do the woodworking indoors, keep any small children or pets away from the working space. Doing the work outdoors is preferred.

Even experienced woodworkers should wear dust masks for face protection. Don’t think that being efficient at edge rounding will ensure your safety.

Eyeglasses protect your eyes not only from wood splinters but also from wood dust. Wood dust can seriously damage your eyes, and you shouldn’t take it lightly.

How to round edges of wood
Image source:

Rounding wood edges using a hand tool

Rounding with sandpaper

Good old sandpaper is still used, not only when polishing surfaces, but also when rounding wooden edges.

It takes a longer time to do the job, but the level of accuracy is the highest compared to other tools and methods!

The main technique is to start with a low-grade sandpaper sheet and change the sheets until you reach the most fine-grade one.

A sanding block will make your grip and control better. Sanding block will provide a smooth and even surface, as well as protect your fingers from wood splinters.

Sandpaper is also great at finishing your work after any other method was tried.

Here is the step-by-step guide to proper sanding:

  • Draw a guiding curve on the short side of the wooden piece;
  • Take 80-grit coarse sandpaper. Start flattening the sharp corner at a 45-degree angle;
  • Start shaping the curve’s edges as soon as you approach the guideline you made. Sand with long strokes over the straight edges, double-check if you’re sanding evenly or not;
  • Use 120-grit and then 220-grit sandpaper sheets to refine the details;
  • Go on with the process until you get the desired curve shape.
How to round edges of wood
Image source:

Rounding with a wood file or rasp

Wood files and rasps work similarly to sandpaper. They give you pretty much the same result, and it can take a long time to see it.

But the files and rasps allow you to have way more control when working on details in round edges. Even though rasps are a bit more harsh and aggressive than files, they all make great tools for finishing your woodwork.

Here is the step-by-step guide to working with a file or rasp:

  • Draw a template of your desired shape on the short side of the wooden piece;
  • Hold the tool by the handle with one hand and put the other hand on top of the blade;
  • The tool’s blade should be run along the long edge at a 45-degree angle;
  • Work the file or rasp back and forth along the edge of the curve. Flat the sharp edges and level the curve to match the straight lines;
  • Continue to work the blade until the desired curve is finished;
  • You can use sandpaper to finish the round edges, so they become smooth enough.

Rounding with a chisel

A chisel is a hand tool that requires more practice and experience to make accurate cuts and round wood edges easily.

Using a wood chisel is a more aggressive method of removing wood than previous ones. If you don’t have enough skill, you can irreversibly damage your wooden piece by removing too much wood at a time. So, before working on a furniture project, you should take another piece of wood and practice the chisel technique.

The chisel you use must be sharp and not dull. A dull chisel blade will make the work slower, and you will make more mistakes.

How to round edges of wood
Image source:

When working with a chisel, try to remove small chunks of wood each time you hit it. Here’s a guide to working with a chisel:

  • Take the chisel and hold it against the wood at a 45-degree angle;
  • Tap the chisel end with a hammer, do it gently;
  • First, remove the sharp point at the corner;
  • Keep working until you get a semi-flat edge;
  • Go along the straight edge and shape the angle, remember to wipe off any excess wood;
  • When you’re done removing most of the material, use sandpaper to refine the sharp edges to get a smooth curve.

Rounding with a surform

Surform has handles that resemble those of a hand plane, and a perforated blade that resembles that of a grater.

Surform is easy to use: just place two hands on the handles and smoothly move the surform along the wood. You can make it move quickly by regulating the power of your hands.

Here’s how you can use the surform to make rounded edges:

  • Place the surform on the sharp corner of the wood piece, and start making sweeping movements from left to right;
  • Now run the surform along the straight edges;
  • Tilt the surform when you get to the bend;
  • Do the same on the opposite straight edge until you get the desired curve.
How to round edges of wood
Image source:

Rounding with a hand plane

A hand plane allows you to remove large chunks of wood quickly and effectively. It is similar to a surform, but a hand plane uses a blade instead of a grater.

A hand plane is usually used for leveling the wood, but you can also use it to round wood edges. A block plane is a type of hand planer that works great when you need to round wood edges.

You can also choose one of the following types of hand planes. Your choice should depend on your needs:

  • Block Plane – perfect for thin wood pieces (and for rounding wood edges in general);
  • Jack Plane – great for both short and long pieces of wood;
  • Jointer Plane – great for larger boards;
  • Smoothing Plane – perfect for smoothing almost any type of surface.

When you have chosen your hand plane, you can go on and read the instruction:

  • Place the hand plane on the edge of the wood at a 45-degree angle;
  • Work the hand plane along the entire length of the straight edges;
  • Tilt and adjust the hand plane as soon as you get to the bend;
  • Gradually plan the corner until you have a rounded edge;
  • Use sandpaper to finish your work.
How to round edges of wood
Image source:

Rounding wood edges using power tools

Rounding with a power sander

It is basically sandpaper powered by electricity, which makes everything way faster.

Just like with common sandpaper, a power sander allows you to achieve smooth and round wood edges. However, you need to be extra cautious when sanding, since the speed of sanding is pretty high.

Here’s how you use the power sander:

  • Draw a guideline on the shorter side of the wooden piece;
  • Turn the power sander on and wait for it to accelerate up to its maximum speed;
  • Work the sander back and forth along the long sides of the edges;
  • Keep sanding until you get the needed angle.

Rounding with a jigsaw

Yes, even a jigsaw can be used to round wood edges. This tool is fast and harsh, so it is not suited to making neat edges.

Thus, you should use a jigsaw only if you need to remove a large amount of wood. This is also one of the implements that need lots of skill and experience, and otherwise, you can fail your whole project with just a couple of wrong cuts.

Tip. Get more useful information about the Best jig saw for woodworking.

Here’s some advice on how to start working with a jigsaw:

  • Draw a guideline on the crosscut side of the wood piece;
  • Place the jigsaw on the starting point at the angle you want;
  • Turn your jigsaw on and move the blade;
  • Once you reach the endpoint, stop moving and turn off the jigsaw blade;
  • When working with a jigsaw, you need to use a different method to refine the sharp edges that are left. When you’re done using the saw, finish the rounding with a different tool like sandpaper or a file.

Rounding with a Dremel

Dremel makes a great tool when working on curved wood edges.

Even though making edges with a Dremel is relatively quick and simple, it is still difficult to control it when performing this task. Applying too much pressure on one side of the Dremel can ruin the flatness of the surface.

These are the steps of working with a Dremel:

  • Draw a template on the crosscut side with a pencil;
  • Switch on the Dremel and wait for it to pick up speed;
  • Remove the sharp corners by sweeping movements;
  • Follow your guiding lines and work on the curve;
  • Work up with sandpaper to get rid of any sharp edges.


We all like to see round wood edges instead of sharp ones. They look more pretty, make the furniture safer, and do not get chipped off easily. The most widespread way of rounding wooden edges is the wood router, which allows you to make perfect curves quickly.

Just because you don’t have a router, you should not spend extra money on one. If you’re not dealing with lots of round edges, you have many alternative tools in your workshop that can help you.

You can return to this article and review the methods and tools we have described in it.

But if you’re planning to round wood edges more and more often, we advise you to purchase a good router.

Leave a Comment