Milling Rosettes

Information on rosette cutters, and other advice on techniques for machining rosettes. June 23, 2006

Does anyone have experience with rosette cutters that are used on a drill press? More specifically, are any of them good?

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor U:
I have tried these cutters before. The problem I found was chatter, because the drill press was not heavy enough. A good mill works well with these cutters. Problem is I don't have a mill. Even though I am always looking for a reason to buy another tool I can't justify the mill. I have found the best way to produce rosettes, other than from a supplier, is to turn them on my lathe. If I only need a few I will turn them, otherwise I buy mine.

From contributor C:
We've (Wood Tech Tooling) sold a lot of these in the past that use corrugated knife steel profile knives in a head body. There are stock and custom profiles available. There are a number of different shank sizes available. This is an industrial grade product.

From contributor F:
I have a rosette cutter that I have used on my drill press. Keep in mind that I have a very nice drill press with "speed dial" instead of pulley swap. When I make rosettes, I always make more blanks than the number of rosettes I need. I also hone the factory-made cutters. Mirror polish back, Arkansas stones on the bevel. Using the correct speed is critical. Having the blanks held rigidly is critical. Very, very slow feed will get you flawless rosettes 80 percent of the time.

From contributor B:
You all might think this is nuts, but try freezing the wood blanks prior to profiling on the drill press. It you take all the above precautions, you'll find this improves the success rate. It seems that if the wood fibers are frozen together, there is less tear out. I made significant improvements to my drill press years ago to stiffen and strengthen it for rosette blocks. They can be made on a drill press, but as others have said, it is a challenge and is slow going.

From contributor T:
Youíre right, I do think thatís nuts, but the nuttier thing is that I am going to try it. Thatís the wonderful thing about this forum. You always learn something. One question though, what do I tell my wife when she opens the freezer door to get something out to cook and finds a stockpile of frozen wood?

From contributor Z:
We make a lot of rosettes, corner blocks, and outside corners. I haven't tried the attachment that contributor C has, but no doubt it's good. I use a different one that fits into a drill press and takes a set of two small carbide knives that self align. It works superb in making rosettes. I get these from

From contributor P:
I have both the carbide version and the insert version rosette cutters and have had minimal problems at 250 to 500 rpm on my drill press. The only real hard profiles to cut are the ones with the1/2" button in the center and the1/8 bead around the perimeter when I'm cutting grainy material or poplar. If the small beads are not perfectly lined up on your inserts, then the chatter will cause the thin beads to break and chip/ditto with the button in the center. All other dense and hardwoods though cut really well.

From contributor J:
I have a chuck mounted into my mortiser for rosettes. It's much stiffer than my drill press but speed is fixed at 1700 rpm. The table is great for centering and holding the parts. The outside of the profile seems important - if it's a straight cut down along the outside, it will chatter and grab more as it gets deeper into the wood. I've had better luck with a bevel.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor R:
I had been trying to cut rosettes in red oak blocks but they all ended up rough. After looking at WOODWEB I honed the cutter and increased the speed from 500 to 1200 RPMís. I had already made a tight fitting guide to hold the blocks but was still getting chatter even though this was a heavy duty metal capable drill press. I added heavy machinist clamps to a pair of diagonal corners of the target blocks and used very light cutting pressure and I achieved great rosettes every time. I surmise that the addition of the clamps keeps the blocks from climbing into the cutter and the higher speed along with the light cuts also assists in elimination of the chatter. Iím now very happy with rosette cutting performance.