what tool would you use for cutting slots?

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Forum topic by mzimmers posted 01-19-2012 05:36 AM 2876 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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160 posts in 3339 days

01-19-2012 05:36 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tool cutting slots question

Hi, all -

I want to cut some slots in the sliding lids of cigar boxes. The wood is soft (probably cedar) and less than 1/4” thick. What would you use for cutting nice, clean slots in it? The slots will need to be about 1” by 3” or so.


-- M. Zimmers

8 replies so far

View Grandpa's profile


3256 posts in 2099 days

#1 posted 01-19-2012 05:56 AM

How wide do the slots need to be. They could be cut using a table saw or they could be cut with a router and a jig.

View ELCfinefurniture's profile


112 posts in 1744 days

#2 posted 01-19-2012 06:02 AM

On a router table with a straight bit and a fence. It will leave nice crisp shoulders and floor. which will help when your moving parts slide. Make sure you back up the cut with a scrap though to avoid tearout!

-- {Current North Bennet street school student}

View mzimmers's profile


160 posts in 3339 days

#3 posted 01-19-2012 06:08 AM

OK, so…how do I get the cut started? I neglected to mention that I want these slots in the middle of the board, so I can’t come in from an edge.

Grandpa: slots will be about 1”x3” though I may want to make some slightly different sizes. The work is roughly 6”x6”.

-- M. Zimmers

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 2492 days

#4 posted 01-19-2012 06:11 AM

I’ve done several sliding lid boxes using 1/4” ply for the lid. I cut the slots on the table saw in two passes to get the width I need.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Loren's profile


8174 posts in 3072 days

#5 posted 01-19-2012 06:12 AM

Lots of ways to do it. If you have several to do, make a template
with a rentangular hole 1/4” oversized and use a router with a 5/8”
guide bushing and a 1/2” router bit to plunge rout the slot.

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


930 posts in 1779 days

#6 posted 01-19-2012 10:44 AM

depends on if your rabbets go all the way through or are stopped.

Stopped router cleaning the end of the rabbet out with a quarter inch chisel. (This is louder than using a table saw)

All the way through, Table saw with a dado set, if you don’t own a dado set, two passes as stated before. It’s quieter, and may need a quarter inch chisel to clean out any trash left from passes.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View ajosephg's profile


1878 posts in 2985 days

#7 posted 01-19-2012 11:57 AM

I use my PC dovetail jig with a plunge router and a 1/4 inch bit for short slots. Works great with 1/4 inch plywood.

-- Joe

View William's profile


9906 posts in 2266 days

#8 posted 01-19-2012 04:05 PM

You said these don’t go all the way through. If I understand correctly what you’re trying to do, then the only way to go would be with a temporary jig and a plunge router.

With some measurements, or by trial and error on some scrap for test pieces, lay down a straight edge (out of scrap wood. Nail, screw, or glue a ninety degree angle out of a short piece of scrap on one end for the starting point for your router. However long you want the slots, plus the width of your router base, attach another piece of scrap at ninety degrees for your stopping point.

Now, use a router bit of whatever size you want for the slot thickness. With the router sitting at one end, against one of the ninety degree pieces you attached to the straight edge, start up your router, plunge it into your wood, and slide along the straightedge till you come to a stop at the other ninety degree piece.

Personally, on thing wood like you are using, I like to shut off and allow the router to stop at this point before allowing the bit to come back out of the wood. If you don’t, sometimes you’ll have what I call a blowout at the stopping point. If you don’t want to allow the bit to stop in the wood, because you’re worried about buning, another option is to back up along the straight edge just hair before allowing the bit to exit the wood.

I suggest doing all this on scrap wood first to get an idea of how you want it set up. After that, make sure everything is clamped down good before cutting into your stock that you plan on using. After you clamp down the straight edge jig, clamp it a little harder. I say this because I have too often had this same setup move on me from not being clamped down well enough and ruined a workpiece.


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