How to Use a Router to Cut a Groove – Step by Step

A groove cutting is an important step in shaping woods, and it makes your woodworking one step ahead of curving out designs. You can cut grooves by hand without using any power tools, but it will cost you a significant time. The easiest way to cut grooves is to use a plunge base router. A table saw may be the right tool for long groove cutting, leaving the flat bottom. It might be a great riddle which tool is best for cutting grooves, but it will not be wise to concentrate on this riddle. Learning skills in cutting grooves will be the best solution. Let’s see how to use a router to cut a groove right here.

What Things and Tools You Need

  • Router
  • Scrap wood
  • C-clamp
  • Straight edge
  • Wood pusher
  • Wrench
  • Pencil
  • Safety glasses

A Plunge Router to Cut Groove

Step 1: Selection of Right Router Bits

If you are ready to use a plunge router to cut the groove, it’s time to decide which shape you want to curve. It is because different sizes of bits are out there to cut from different angles. You might notice the most popular V-shaped grooves and straight channel grooves. In both cases, bit size plays an active role in turning exquisite shapes.

If you like to turn a (V) letter shape groove, you need to install a V-groove bit in a plunge router. The straight bits cut well for turning the long channel keeping both sides and the bottom of the wood surface flat.

Different sizes and types of bits are available online anytime you can purchase. Local hardware stores are also a good source of such router bits you can try nearby you.

If you are anxious not to spend more on a plunge router, you can surely use the best budget wood router for this job. But be sure that it comes with the plunging option and allows bits that cut grooves.

Step 2: Installation of Router Bit

Bit changing may be somewhat technical and may require you to uninstall the whole router from the router table. But in today’s market, innovative plunge-action routers are more flexible and easy to set up. You can access it just by clicking on a button. Most plunge routers have the option of quick setup.

However, as the process suggests, you have to extract the bit mechanism untwisting the circular guard. When you get full access to the bit tip, use a wrench or a bit tip holder to release and replace the bit. Tight up the bit in place and resettle the router with safety and security.

If you find a quick-release lever (most plunge routers come with), you no longer need to unscrew as described above. Also, if you find it’s hard to set up, you can surely follow the user’s manual on how to change a bit. Tons of video tutorials are available to make it a matter of a few seconds. You can click here to see how it works.

Step 3: Bit Depth Adjustment

Depth adjustment is another crucial point for groove cutting. Perfectly adjusted bit depth will ensure how nicely fitted your joinery is.

You’ll notice a dial-up knob near your hands while routing. It will help you adjust the bit depth. Before you go, place the router on a plank of scrap wood and dial the knob until it reaches your deserving depth.

The top-level routers come with a micro-adjuster for precision cuts. If it is available, tune it for pinpoint accuracy. When the bit depth is set, lock that in place. See how bit depth is set here.

Also, keep watching YouTube video tutorials.

You can now cut a straight groove producing equal depth all over the tunnel.

You might notice that not all routers have the measurement scale. In that case, you can use a ruler to measure depth.

Step 4: Line Marking on Wood Piece

A straight line marking on wood will show you through which you’d rout. If you start routing without tracing lines, your router may move left or right. Ultimately, you’ll lose accuracy and perfection. So, it’ll be wise to double-check whether the measurement is perfect.

It’s done well for straight groove. In the case of curved grooves, you can use a compass or a round object to draw the line before you start curving.

Step 5: The Right Placement of Your Wood Piece

It will be more secure and smooth for cutting groves when you’ll use C-clamps on both sides and a piece of scrap wood on the top of the wood piece you intend to curve. Without clamping the right way, it’ll be hazardous to handle a router free-hand.

So, for smooth operation, use scrap wood parallel to the line drawn to secure the straight wood piece allowing no movement. Also, make sure to maintain a gap to touch the router guard on the other side. Keep in mind that if your router bit moves left or right, sliding the straight line you have drawn, the whole process will be uneven. So, make sure it is tight right on the router table before you start routing.

Then, set the router and line up the bit right on the straight line to start the groove.

Perfect setup will reduce your time, and it will ensure the precise cut possible.

However, on some router tables, you might notice the router fence that can guard your wood piece for accurate and secure cuts. And some bench dogs will help you clamp the right way.

Step 6: Turning Grooves

Finally, it’s now time to turn your grooves. The router bits produce dust and debris that might cause harm to your eyes. So, for the protection of your eyes, you can wear safety glasses. It is wise to use hearing protection as well.

If you are ready, go for the router and place it in line from the beginning of the straight-line drawing. Keep eyes on the edge guard if it is evenly placed to go all through the line.

Now slightly press the start-up button to turn on the router and plunge down the quick-release lever to reach the bit on the wood. Lightly press the bit to dig down and adjust the depth. Accordingly, pull it down and push forward, and you’ll see there’s a nice straight groove curved.

Pro Tips: The router bit may tear out the wood, and this torn-out particle may follow the bit like a chamfer. To remove it, stop and start again smoothly. You’ll see that it is not following now.

Safety Measures: The router bits produce a lot of dust and debris. You can use a shop vac to collect the wastage and reduce the nuisance. Most router tables have a dust port to use shop vacs.

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