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How to: Cock Beaded Doors

Hinged Cock Bead

A cock bead is a narrow half round bead that surrounds a drawer front or door. Cock beads are common on late18th century English and American furniture and provide surface interest to the eye and hand. This simple device can dramatically upgrade the appeal of an otherwise plain piece.

A typical cock bead of this period is about 1/8" wide. It is usually formed on 3/8" wide strips that are mitered and fitted into rabbets cut around the drawer or door. If you plan on fitting cock beads to a piece under construction consider the following.

It will be hard to sand the face of a drawer once the cock bead is in place. Finish sand these surfaces before fitting the cock bead and use the minimum of glue so none squeezes out where it will be troublesome to remove.

Fit your drawer front or door tight into its opening before cutting the rabbet for the cock bead. If your cock bead is 1/8" wide you will need to cut the rabbet 1/8" deep plus the desired gap. If you like 1/32" gaps around doors and drawers then cut your rabbet 5/32" deep.

Cock Bead

The cock beads can be held in place while the glue dries with staples, which if not driven home can easily be removed later.

Shaped hingeAt first glance hinging a cock beaded door would seem simple enough, it isn't. A butt hinge is normally mortised equally into the door and frame, if this is done on a cock beaded door the hinge barrel will serve as a clumsy interruption to the line of the bead. The only satisfactory way around this problem is to mortise the hinge fully into the bead and not into the frame at all. If a hinge were selected that had the same barrel diameter as the cock bead the result would be a door fitted without a gap along the hinged edge. As this is not viable the solution is to use a hinge whose barrel diameter equals the bead diameter plus a small door gap (1/32"-1/16"). If the hinge is a high quality extruded type the barrel can be shaped to the profile shown with a good file.