how we rounded the outer corners of a mid century nightstand

We talked in a previous post about how we make an MDF nightstand and about the solution we found to make possible the rounding of the inner and the outer corners. Next, we will show you how we proceeded to get a large radius rounding at the outer corner.

This method is part of the mid-century nightstands making video. You can find it on our YouTube channel:

How to round the outer corners of a mid-century nightstand

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To better explain the process, we used the same nightstand box to which we added an extra MDF strip. Here are the main steps, after we drew the circles using the inner corner of the added strip as the center.

we draw the inner and the outer round corners of the mid century floating nightstands
The corners of the nightstand box with the drawn inner and outer corners

In order to round the outer corners we used the following electric tools:

  • an electric planer
  • a belt sander
  • a sheet orbital sander

1. First, we used the electric planer to remove as much material as possible, in a very short time. We made the first pass with the planer to bevel the sharp corner. Because there is no way to support the planer, it should be held as close as possible to 45 degrees to the MDF boards, so it can cut the material equal from each side. At the same time, the pressure should be equal from start to finish.

we beveled the sharp corner of the nightstand box with an electric planer
Beveling the nightstand corner with an electric planer

2. Keeping the planer in the same position, we made more passes, checking all the time not to exceed the drawn circles. Much more, we left a small margin, which was necessary for sanding the corner. This margin also helps when the position of the electric planer can not be very well controlled.

we cut more material from the outer corners keeping the electric planer in the same position
More passes with the electric planer

3. Now we made two more passes to further get closer to the rounded corner. It is also important not to exceed the drawings. The pass had to be uniform from one end to another. After this step, the corner should get a shape close to the final one. It will also have a shape easy to be sanded with the belt sander.

we made another two passes with the electric planer to round the corners of the boxes
Two passes to roughly round the corners

4. From now on, we used electric sanders. We started with the belt sander. First, we used 80 grit sandpaper to quickly remove as much material as possible. In this case, the movements are made from front to back, to remove the planer marks. We also permanently kept an eye on the arcs drawn at the ends.

Then follows the sanding with 150 grit sandpaper, with up and down movements while advancing from front to back. We did everything possible to follow the rounded shape of the corner. Sanding continued this way until we obtained the needed roundness, along the entire length of the corner. There might still be some small unevennesses, almost imperceptible when touching the surface.

we used the belt sander to round the outer corners of he nightstand boxes
Sanding the rounded corners with the belt sander

5. After this step, we continued the sanding with the sheet sander using 120 grit sandpaper. We alternated the circular movements, up and down movements, and front to back ones, to remove the last existing unevennesses.

we made circular movements with the sheet orbital sander to round the corners of the nightstand boxes
Circular movements with the sheet sander
we rounded the outer corners by using the electric hand plane, the belt sander and the sheet sander
Rounding the outer corners

6. At the end, with 320 grit sandpaper, we made a few passes from front to back by hand, sanding the entire round corner.

After all these steps we got uniform rounded edges, with a large radius, along the entire depth of this piece of furniture:

how we rounded the outer corners of a mid century nightstand
How to round the outer corners

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