How to Build Fluted Columns

Written by mark morris
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How to Build Fluted Columns
Large Roman fluted columns are the inspiration for today's smaller versions. (column image by Diane Stamatelatos from

Traditional round fluted columns require the use of a large wood lathe and are beyond the capacity of most do-it-yourself woodworkers; but a similar look can be had in a simple, square fluted column that can be cut on a standard table saw. Choose your wood grain to match surrounding woodwork. Pick baseboard moulding for your base and trim that complements the existing wood. This method will work equally well for a self-standing decorative column, or as a wrap for a load bearing support pier or column.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Hardwood lumber
  • Table saw
  • Mitre saw
  • Baseboard moulding
  • Dado blade
  • Wood glue
  • Pin nail gun
  • Tape measure

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  1. 1

    Cut four pieces of 3/4-inch-thick hardwood, the width of your desired column and to length at the exact height of the column, using the table saw. Cut eight pieces of 3/4-inch-thick baseboard moulding 1 1/2 inches longer than your column will be wide. Mitre each end of each piece at 45 degrees -- one right and one left mitre. Place the moulding on the saw, back to the fence, bottom edge down, and make the cuts away from the face, so that the back of each piece is the same width as the column when measured between the mitres.

  2. 2

    Set the bevel on your table saw to 45 degrees. Cut both long edges of each hardwood column face at 45 degrees, so that the cut rides along the corner of the board, keeping the face width of the board the same. Turn off the saw and wait for the blade to stop. Reset the blade to 90 degrees and adjust it as high as it will go.

  3. 3

    Unplug the saw and use a wrench to loosen the arbor nut, using a block of wood, braced behind the blade in the throat of the saw to hold it still. Remove the blade and install stacking dado blades to equal 1/4 of inch. A dado blade cuts a wider "kerf" or slot, known as a dado, into the face of your material. Tighten the arbor nut and set the height of the blade to 1/4 inch. Position the fence to 1 1/2 inches from the outside of the blade. Plug the saw in.

  4. 4

    Start the blade and run your column pieces over, with the mitres angled down, cutting 1 1/2 inches in from the long edge of each piece. Reset the fence, moving it out a half-inch. Repeat the process, resetting the fence a half-inch further out once more. You should now have four column faces with two sets of three 1/4-inch flutes running parallel to each long edge.

  5. 5

    Glue and nail the four column faces together, matching up the mitred edges to form 90-degree corners. Use a pin nail gun and 1 1/4-inch pin nails. Nail all four corners of this is to be a decorative, non-load bearing column. Nail two pairs of faces together and wrap them around your load bearing pier for a supporting column.

  6. 6

    Wrap four pieces of the base board around each end of the column and glue and nail it in place using the pin-nail gun. Match the mitred corners up to form crisp 90-degree corners. Use at least three nails in each piece.

Tips and warnings

  • Always wear safety glasses when sawing and working with nails. Wear gloves to prevent blistering and splinter wounds.

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