All Replies on Cutting through 1.5" oak - the straight way!

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Cutting through 1.5" oak - the straight way!

by pashley
posted 09-19-2013 11:32 AM

20 replies so far

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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2995 days

#1 posted 09-19-2013 11:41 AM

A track saw has a kerf of 2.2mm, you could do the sides into the corners at full plunge and take out the corners with a jigsaw. I recently got hold of some Festool 14tpi curve cutting jigsaw blades and they leave a super clean cut. If you don’t have a track saw, a thin kerf blade on a circular saw using a guide would do the cuts into the corners as well.

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2312 days

#2 posted 09-19-2013 11:42 AM

You might just go with the angle of about 10 degrees in the cut out so it will fit back in if you need to put it on again. If you went slow enough with the jig you could do it provided you have a good jigsaw. I cut through 2” hardwood stock all the time with mine without a problem. It does take some sanding to get the lines out.

I have a little Rockwell circular saw with a 3” blade and a laser line that might get through wood that thick. The only other way would be to use some handsaw, but 6/4 oak and a hand saw aint my idea of a good day.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

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1044 posts in 3743 days

#3 posted 09-19-2013 11:50 AM

Hmmmm, I like the idea of cutting at an angle so that I can just pop the piece back in, with no artificial supports…reminds me of doing inlay, and cutting at an angle for a perfect fit….

A jigsaw would be perfect….I’ll check into Festool blades…for my DeWalt jig saw?

-- Have a blessed day!

View OhioMike's profile


79 posts in 2188 days

#4 posted 09-19-2013 12:13 PM

Another possible solution would be to use the router template method that you mentioned along with a 1/4” bit.

This would result in a near-perfect hole in the desktop.

You could then take a few slices of veneer off the remainder piece and, with scarf joints and slip matching, make a veneered plug to fit the hole.


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1044 posts in 3743 days

#5 posted 09-19-2013 12:44 PM

Ok, if I can get the damn jigsaw to cut straight….

I’m looking at final thickness of 1.5”. I can start out with 1.75” stock, cut the cut-outs at 15 degrees inwards, with the kerf of a bandsaw blade being about 1/16th”. According to my modeling in SketchUp, the cutout should drop about 1/4” into the hole to meet the table. If I then plane the top down to it’s final thickness of 1.5”, the cutout should then be flush.

That is, on paper, anyway….I’ll have to do tests in scrap stock. Oy vey…

-- Have a blessed day!

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2996 days

#6 posted 09-19-2013 12:50 PM

I use a Dewalt jig saw and Bosch blades. The low profile, where you grip the motor, saws from Bosch and Ridgid are probably better for the type cut you are wanting to make.

There are some really great blades out there from Bosch. I get mine from HD.
You want a thin (front to back) blade for curves. Don’t worry about rigidity. It’s irrelevant if technique is correct.
For the straight sides use a wider blade (front to back), if you want, to save wear and tear on the thin ones.
The Bosch blades with variable TPI tooth pitch help to make smooth cuts.

The key to a jigsaw staying vertical (or at a specified angle) to the work plane is to use a top quality blade and go slow without applying any side pressure to the blade. We often have a tendency, if the blade is getting off the line to move the saw laterally back toward the line. Don’t do that. You must stop forward motion and swivel the saw around the blade axis to get back on line.

Also, if you jig saw has a setting for orbital action, shift it to non-orbital action. Orbiting makes for a faster cut, but almost guarantees beveled turns.

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1044 posts in 3743 days

#7 posted 09-19-2013 01:09 PM

crank49 those are good tips, thanks a lot. I’ll have to practice on scraps!

-- Have a blessed day!

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2312 days

#8 posted 09-19-2013 01:10 PM

You might consider a piece of veneer on the cut out piece. It would make up for the kerf and if you use a contrasting color it would add to the piece.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View bigblockyeti's profile


5140 posts in 1746 days

#9 posted 09-19-2013 01:22 PM

One thing about using a router bit, especially a 1/4” bit will probably not like going through 1.5” anything, much less white oak. I realize you would be taking a little cut at a time, which would make the process potentially time consuming, but that last little bit would be a lot of stress at the base of the flutes on the bit. I’ve lost more than one bit that way despite taking very light cuts.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5705 posts in 2839 days

#10 posted 09-19-2013 03:29 PM

Rough cut with jigsaw or circular saw, then use a flush trim bit to clean it up. You will wind up losing less material compared to the router only method.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View rodneyh's profile


147 posts in 2690 days

#11 posted 09-19-2013 04:14 PM

How ‘bout a 1/4” router from the back (bottom) cut to within 1/4” or so of the top. Then take out the last 1/4” with the jigsaw? Would still look right from the top with the piece put back in.

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3674 days

#12 posted 09-19-2013 04:31 PM

any chance to design those openings before gluing up the top and have them as separate small glue ups (basically the top will be glued up with the openings already ‘build-in’ using those smaller glue ups as spacers)?

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Hammerthumb's profile


2853 posts in 2001 days

#13 posted 09-19-2013 10:03 PM

Might think about doing this with 3/4” oak and laminating 2 pieces together after the cutous have been made. Make the first cuout in the top piece per your original dimensions. Use that as a template for the bottom piece to cut it maybe 1/4” on each side smaller. After laminating, you would have a rabbit of 1/4” around the hole which could support whatever is goin in the hole or the original cutout of the top piece. By the way, white oak can be waterjet cut. That would give you a very precise cutout.

-- Paul, Las Vegas

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 2501 days

#14 posted 09-19-2013 10:21 PM

I would use a contrasting wood. Make the hole on the oak, make a template and make fitting pieces with walnut, ebonized oak (a simple matter of brushing a vinegar with eel wool solution, the oak has enough tanning to turn black) etc. This way you can even rout a lip to hold the hole plug. Another way would be to look for pieces of the oak that are similar to the ones in the areas you are making the hole and then fit them.

Remember, when you hear hoofs, think horses not zebras… :-)

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

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Steve Peterson

377 posts in 3108 days

#15 posted 09-19-2013 11:56 PM

I would use a separate piece of wood for the plug. It’s going to be noticeable no matter what you do. Go ahead and waste the wood inside the hole.

I like the idea of an angled hole so the plug stays in place. Also, there is no need for the plug to be 1.5” thick. 3/4” should be sufficient.

-- Steve

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3940 posts in 2530 days

#16 posted 09-20-2013 01:09 AM

Pashley, make sure you post pics on this one. It is interesting.

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

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1044 posts in 3743 days

#17 posted 09-20-2013 01:27 PM

DKV, I will. It will either be a $500 mistake, or triumph. You can believe I’ll be testing out my technique on scrap first! Yes, will post pics!

Here’s my tentative plan: After carefully laying out the cut lines on 1 3/4” stock, I’ll use a high-quality jigsaw blade (they only have a 1/16” kerf) to make the cut at a 15 degree angle. According to my modeling in SketchUp, that ought to make the cutout drop down 1/4”, and fit perfectly, just as it does in marquetry. Remove the cutout, plane down the rest of the top to 1 1/2”, the final size, and a 1/4” thinner, and when I put the cut out back in, it SHOULD be flush.

My concern is that the jigsaw blade won’t cut straight, that it will bend. I will cut very slow, and not use orbital action, as per crank49’s great advice on cutting with a jig saw.

I do have the benefit of the cut not having to be be perfect, because an electronics panel is being inlaid somewhat flush into the desktop for easier customer use; he uses specialized panels to do computer animations. The panels have a 1/2” lip around them, so if I don’t make a perfect cut, it will be hidden from sight, thank God.

Hammerthumb never heard of waterjet cutting for wood, but I suppose, since it can cut metal. Your idea is a good one, about the laminating and creating a lip! However, the customer did specify 1 1/2” QSWO….so, I have a problem “cheating”. However, next time, I’ll know better!

-- Have a blessed day!

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2996 days

#18 posted 09-20-2013 03:18 PM

On water jet cutting.
The shop where I work has two machines. They have 10ft x 20 ft work tables (tanks), one machine has two heads for cutting multiple parts.
Most of the work they do is steel, stainless steel or aluminum.
Another substantial percentage of work is granite or other stone.
Also, we cut a lot of UHMWPE, polyethylene plastic and rubber.
The kerf is only about .006” and the accuracy is plus or minus .002” and can effectively cut up to 7” thick.
While there is no reason I can think of why these machines could not cut wood, we have never had a customer ask for that.
My only concern would be the soaking the wood would have to endure. Maybe not so much from the top side where the jet goes through, but from the back side where the jet hits the tank of water to dissipate its energy.
The jet has a 100 HP pump running at 60,000 PSI behind it and is carrying about 100 lbs per hour of garnet sand.
I haven’t seen anything, short of something like diamond or carbide this thing will not cut.

View Hammerthumb's profile


2853 posts in 2001 days

#19 posted 09-20-2013 03:52 PM

I had some 6 ft medallions made for a bar floor at Treasue Island Casino here in Las Vegas a few years ago. Edge jointed wood panels of 3/4” material and let the machine do its thing. Difficult part was mounting the pieces to a plywood substrate after cutting. It all worked well. I’m not sure if the floor is still there as I don’t go to casinos unless it involves work. Since, I have heard of many people using waterjet for cutting wood. It was an experiment when I did it and did not know if it would work. I am not sure that it would be practical for all wood species, but something as dense as white oak would work fine. Species I used were Purple Heart, Yellow Heart, Santos Mahogany, Wenge, and Padauk.

-- Paul, Las Vegas

View pashley's profile


1044 posts in 3743 days

#20 posted 09-30-2013 10:23 PM

Well, interesting things doing this cut-in. Of course, I’m doing a dry run on separate pieces of stock. I tried doing a full size cut-out in 1 3/4” MDF – however, my 15 degree angle came out at more like 10 degrees, which totally is off, and unusable. the MDF also seemed very hard to cut through?

So, I tried 1 3/4” glued up plywood; again, trying it a 15 degrees. Again, same result, 10 degrees. However, I did notice that it DID cut at 15 degrees for the first 2 inches or so, and then it straightened out more to 10 degrees for no obvious reason; the only thing I can come up with is excessive and/or uneven heating of the blade at that point, causing the blade to bend. It was blued when it came out, indicating overheating. I tried to move the blade through the wood at a moderate speed, realizing that too slow causes the wood to heat up – and therefore, the blade. AFter the cutting, the blade was not bent.

On the next trial, I set the blade to 20 degrees, since the blade has lost 5 degrees in the first two tries, and I need to get 15 degrees to make this work. Once again, it started out at the original angle for the first two inches (20 degrees), and then it lost 5 degrees, to give me 15, which was what I needed.

Now I feel pretty confident in going ahead and cutting the actual 1.75” desktop of white oak – all $500 of it. Ugh…if I screw this up…...

-- Have a blessed day!

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