Bullnose router bits vary little. Usually, the term bullnose, refers to a bit that will edge a board with an even radius. So, for example, a bullnose bit fitted to a half-inch board would leave the edge perfectly rounded over with a 1/4-inch radius and 1/2-inch diameter. Sometimes relatively large-diameter roundover bits are called bullnose.
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In construction, perhaps the most common use of bullnose router bits is the leading edge of stair treads. Stair treads take a lot of abuse and a sharp-edged tread would catch peoples toes. It would also be naturally prone to dings and dents that would tend to wear it into a rounded over shape. The bullnose is used to shape anything that's going to have a lot of human contact.
Where indoor furniture is likely to have crisp edges with tight radii, outdoor furniture tends to be more rugged. You may see outdoor table-trays with slatted tops where each slat has a small space between it and the next. The table tops are often bull nosed at the edge. Larger, structural members may be rounded over using the same radius roundover bit. For example, the tops may be 1-inch thick with a 1-inch bullnose; the legs and supports may be 1 1/2-inches thick with 1/2-inch radii.
Even fibreglass and steel boats have lots of woodworking. The wood that's handled the most is often bullnosed. Deck rail, for example, or any kind of wood grab-bar will be rounded for easy grasping. Steep ladder stairs are likely to have bullnosed steps, stringers and rails.
Rounded Tongue and Groove
Tongue and groove joints are popular for wood flooring and wood panelling. Most often, the tongue and groove are both squared. While square tongue and grooves gives a more positive mechanical fit, that's not always the best choice. A special bullnose bit can leave a raised radius or bead on one edge; a corresponding, inverse bit can make a hollow groove. The resulting joint may not have as much strength, but it will be easier to fit together.
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