Cutting a Slot?

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Forum topic by WoodJitsu posted 01-18-2011 06:30 AM 12146 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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49 posts in 2820 days

01-18-2011 06:30 AM

Hey guys, got a quick question. Today, I needed to cut a slot in piece of walnut. The wood was about 1/2 inch thick and the slot needed to be in the middle and about foot long (slot was to be all the way through the wood). I slowly dropped the piece on my router bit and it was going fine, but the wood eventually caught on the bit and was sent slamming against the stop, basically ruining my part. I was using a trim bit (the bearing was below the router table, it wasn’t a factor). Would I have been better served doing this with a spiral bit? When the bit caught the wood it ripped it out of my hands pretty violently, so I do not want to try to cut the slot in this manner again (I’ll admit it, it spooked me a little) Any advice would be great!

-- Family, Friends, Jiu Jitsu, Woodworking. Order varies daily!

10 replies so far

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2658 posts in 2949 days

#1 posted 01-18-2011 06:40 AM

easier done by spliting the wood down the middle and inserting two 1/8” shims one on each end of your slot and in this way “build” the slot

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

View WoodJitsu's profile


49 posts in 2820 days

#2 posted 01-18-2011 06:49 AM

Not sure I would want to cut this down the middle. I’ve attached a photo of a similar project I built before. I’m essentially building the same thing, only larger. The part in question is the vertical support. I need to cut the center slot on that. I had trouble with the first one too, but the Mahogany was a little more forgiving than the Walnut.

-- Family, Friends, Jiu Jitsu, Woodworking. Order varies daily!

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3588 days

#3 posted 01-18-2011 07:09 AM

This is what I would do.

1. Start with stock that’s much wider than your finished piece.

2. Hog out most of the wood in the slot using a forstner bit.

3. Clean up the slot using a spiral up cut bit in your router table. (That will tend to pull the stock down.) Use those plastic handle thingys with rubber on the bottom to move the stock across the router so that at no time are your hands over the bit. Don’t cut the full depth at once, but only about 1/4 inch or less at a time. If you do a good job drilling out the slot before hand I don’t see a problem with a 1/4 inch cut.

4. Cut the slotted stock down to final size using table saw.

-- Joe

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49 posts in 2820 days

#4 posted 01-18-2011 07:13 AM

All great ideas, thanks ajosephg!

-- Family, Friends, Jiu Jitsu, Woodworking. Order varies daily!

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3588 days

#5 posted 01-18-2011 07:17 AM

Thought of another way if you have the right kind of dovetail jig. My Porter Cable jig has a long slot for cutting sliding dovetails that might work depending on how long a slot you have to make. I’d still use forstner bits to remove most of the stock, but use the dovetail jig to cut the slot. Obviously use a backer board so you don’t cut into the jig. Edit: Also obviously you’d use a straight bit instead of a dovetail bit, lol.

This way the board is clamped securely and you move the router. It really works great with a plunge router.

-- Joe

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18290 posts in 3703 days

#6 posted 01-18-2011 08:50 AM

I would defiinitely hog out most of the wood with a drill press or hand drill, drilling from both sides to limit tear out. Clean that with a chisel and then go to the router. I’m no expert by any means, but I have always had the best results on a router removing minimal material per pass or trimmng up a started cut.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3675 days

#7 posted 01-18-2011 09:28 AM

Cut two parallel slots by clamping the piece to the tablesaw
and raising the blade to cut the slots. You could drill out the
ends first. Cut out the waste with a jigsaw and if you want to
use a router after that to clean it up, go ahead, but for me
it would be about as fast to finish it up with chisels and files.

I found routing slots to be a pain until I got an overarm router,
but it’s still a messy process to demolish the waste wood with
a router when you could just drill and saw out most of it first.

View ChuckV's profile


3124 posts in 3555 days

#8 posted 01-18-2011 10:59 AM

It looks like you could use a mortising machine if you have one. Since you are cutting through, use a backing board to prevent tear-out.

If I only had one to cut, I would probably drill out the ends and use a coping saw.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3102 days

#9 posted 01-18-2011 03:59 PM

I think your approach on the router table is fine IF you take small bites in multiple passes. I never take more than a 1/4” at a time.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View canadianchips's profile


2602 posts in 3024 days

#10 posted 01-18-2011 04:59 PM

Drill the 2 end holes, remove material from between with a coping saw !

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

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