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Forum topic by john1102 posted 05-17-2012 01:11 PM 1380 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View john1102's profile


58 posts in 2632 days

05-17-2012 01:11 PM

I needed to route a groove (dado groove 1 inch wide by 3/8 inch deep by 16 inches long). I currently have a 1 3/4 HP fixed base router. I was using a double fluted straight bit and it was not cutting smooth into the material it was kind of like kicking at it.

Once the initial pass was through the clean up passes went much smoother. How do I improve on this technique.

Also when one is routing is it better to route against the blade direction for better control?

Is my router underpowered to cut through this type of cut. It was MDF with a glued on hardboard top and maple edge trim (materials I was routing through).

Thank you
John P.

7 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4901 posts in 3924 days

#1 posted 05-17-2012 02:26 PM

Do NOT try to take all the cut with one pass. Makes sure ya have sharp bits. I most often route from left to right when hand held routing is needed.
Just the way I do it.


View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2256 days

#2 posted 05-17-2012 02:43 PM

For 1” wide with a 3/4 hp router, I’d start with a 1/16” depth setting and lower 1/16” with each pass. You can adjust based on how smooth it cuts—less depth if still rough and maybe a little more depth if smooth. Also, use lower rpm setting for larger diameter bits. Cutting MDF works best using carbide bits, and not all carbide bits are equal. I prefer Whiteside bits if possible. P.S. If your router is 1 – 3/4 hp, depth setting should start at 1/8”, instead of 1/16”.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2814 days

#3 posted 05-17-2012 02:45 PM

Climb cutting—letting the rotation of the router bit pull you along—is inherently dangerous. However, it is a valuable technique for coping with grain runout and other special conditions.

As a rule, for control, you want to move the router against the rotation.

+1 on Bill’s comment about small bites. When the cut is right, there is no chatter and the router motor does not bog down. Regarding direction, “left to right” is not adequate explanation because the cut surface may be between you and the router or beyond you and the router.

When the router bit is sharp, nice fluffy wood ships will come off (depending on the species too). On your manmade panels, it will just be dust from which you want to isolate your lungs.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View joebloe's profile


157 posts in 2258 days

#4 posted 05-17-2012 02:49 PM

Like Bill said don’t try to rout it in one pass,I only go about 1/8 inch at a time and use a straight edge, sharp bits will help also.

View Sirgreggins's profile


299 posts in 2199 days

#5 posted 05-17-2012 02:56 PM

to reiterate go counter clockwise. and NEVER go full depth take several passes. Side note: If you have it in your budget I would also suggest getting a more powerful router. 1 3/4hp is ok but you’ll be better off with more power. router kits like dewalt PC or Bosch are 2 1/4hp and believe me that 3/4hp more is significant. these allow you to have mutilple bases for more versatility. most dedicated plunge routers are 3 1/4hp. those thing go through the wood like buttah!

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2806 days

#6 posted 05-17-2012 03:59 PM

What these guys have already said about light passes cannot be repeated enough.
For plywood, and I use a two horse router, I take an initial pass of around a thirty seconds. This is a tiny bit, but that initial light pass helps prevent tearout and ugly spots later when I’m taking the deeper passes. It sort of sets up the path for the other passes to follow.


View john1102's profile


58 posts in 2632 days

#7 posted 05-17-2012 04:10 PM

Thanks guys.

I took my passes with the full depth needed for my cut-out. Trying to remove that amount of material in one pass is most likely what caused my troubles from your above tips/insight.

I was able to clean them up nicely with my finish passes however I will take everyone’s advice in the future.

John P.

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