Cut Grooves

How to Cut Grooves in Wood: 3 Best Ways


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If woodworking is something that you find yourself in, then you need to be familiar with how to cut grooves in wood. Wood is a pretty flexible material; you can shape, cut, and curve designs quite easily. But timber is way different than what we find in furniture stores. It goes through a lot of processing to let go of its rawness and become more refined and sophisticated. You might be a professional, or woodworking is something that you love doing as a hobby. In both cases you need to master the art of it as cutting grooves is one of the most important steps in this field. So if you are wondering how to cut grooves in wood, then you are at the perfect place. Push your worries away and learn.

Three best ways to cut grooves in wood

Routing is the technical term for cutting grooves in wood, so a router is a perfect tool for it. But if you cannot get hold of one, do not need to get all worked up. Grooves can be cut with other tools as well. Mentioned below are some of the best ways on how to cut grooves in wood.

1. Cutting a groove in wood with a circular saw

A circular saw is a tool that tends to be found in most houses. Even though there are far more sophisticated tools for this certain job, circular saws are affordable and do get the job done.

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Things you will need-

  • Wood
  • Circular Saw
  • Two Clamps
  • Chisel
  • Speed Square
  • Mallet

Before beginning, you need to decide whether you want to cut a groove along the width of the wood or the length. When you are cutting it along the length, you will need to place your wood on a flat surface or sheet. To make your next step easier, you might want to mark the boundaries of the groove on either side of your wood with a speed square. Then set the length of the blade and clamp at the middle and the end.

With the help of a rip fence adjust the boundary of the groove with the blade. If you do not have a rip fence, you can use a bit of wood to make a straight edge.

Make a series of cuts within the groove. Once you are done, make sure to clean it and remove the remaining wood by using a chisel and a hammer. By doing so, your groove will become tidy and smooth. To give it a final touch you might want to scrape your groove and the edges with a piece of sandpaper making it look even more polished.

2. Cutting a groove in wood with a drill

This is another such tool that lies around in the garage of most people. A drill is pretty effective for cutting a groove in a tight space.

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Things you will need-

  • Clamps
  • Drill
  • Metal Straight Edge
  • Gloves and Eye Goggles

With the help of a metal straight edge, the line of the groove is needed to be marked. It makes it more prominent than using a scrap of wood for marking. Then put the wood on a flat surface or a sheet and attach it with clamps at the end and the middle. Before beginning, make sure to wear your gloves and eye goggles if you do not intend to hurt yourself.

A twist drill bit is needed to be joined with your drill chuck. Keep in mind that the diameter of the drill bit and the size of the groove need to be the same. Now holding the drill at an angle of ninety degrees, start grooving. The speed of the drill needs to be somewhere in between medium to high while shoving it through the top of the wood.

Once you start the process, gradually tilt the drill more towards the surface until the bit is horizontal. To achieve your required groove length, keep moving the drill forward through the wood. After you are done, you might want to scrape your wood and its rough edges with a piece of sandpaper to make it appear speck and refined.

3. Cutting a groove in wood with a Router

As stated above, a router is the best tool for cutting a groove in the wood. It is a simpler process and your job gets done in no time.

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Things you will need-

  • Guide rail
  • Dust extractor
  • Router
  • Flat table
  • Clamps
  • Groove cutter

You need to decide in what shape you want your groove to be cut. Depending on that, select the desired routing bit. If you want it flat, use a straight bit. Choose a V-shaped routing bit if you intend to have a V-shaped groove. The latter is usually done for decorative woodwork.

Attaching the bit to the router might appear intimidating. To access the mechanism of the bit you need to unscrew the circular guard from the router’s bottom. The bit needs to be pulled out of the router, loosening the bolt with a wrench. Then at the bottom of the router, place the new bit. Make sure to tighten the bolt before lining the guard back up. You can always consult the router manual.

Before you begin routing, you need to match the router’s depth with how deep you want your groove to be. Set the router on the piece of wood and adjust the dial controlling the depth. By lowering and raising the bit, keep an eye on how far the bit is going on the side of the wood. Once you get it right, it needs to be locked.

By making measurements with a measuring tape, mark the groove on your wood. You might use a speed square, which makes it more prominent.

You have to line up your bit with the mark you made. Then set the router on the wood and start cutting. A piece of wood needs to be placed on the top of the portion you are cutting so it touches the guard of the router. It has to run parallel to the lines that you have marked. This makes the process easier as cutting a groove with freehand might be a pretty strenuous job. Once you are done, attach a scrap of wood with clamps.

Turn your router on, placing it at the end of the line you marked. The guard needs to be pushed towards the clamped scrap of wood. Pull the plunge lever so that the bit pierces into the wood. Then following the marked line slowly drag the router in your direction. To make sure the groove stays in place and straight, the side of the guard needs to be kept against the clamped wood.

While performing the entire process, keep in mind to take safety measures. Wear eye goggles and gloves to protect them from the scattering shreds of wood.

Now you know all about how to cut grooves in wood. Then what’s stopping you? Start today.