Need help using a plunge router on a small piece.

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Forum topic by JoshuaJCox posted 12-30-2012 04:49 AM 1883 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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16 posts in 2302 days

12-30-2012 04:49 AM

My fellow lumberjocks, I’m coming to you because you’ve never failed me and I need a spark of genius.

It’s somewhat of a long story, but I work in a fine dining restaurant and the executive chef asked me if I could make a few small charcuterie trays for each of his guests attending a special New Year’s dinner. Long story short, I’ve got the little trays already cut to 4” x 6” to his specifications, but was hoping to use my new plunge router to carve out a recess in them. I figured it’d be a good way to keep the food from sliding off.

Anyway, if it were a bigger piece I’d just clamp it down and that would be that. However, with the pieces so small I’m having trouble coming up with an effective means of securing the piece/making guides. I literally just got the router for Christmas so I’m pretty new at the whole deal. It very well could be something obvious that I’m not thinking of. Suggestions?

Thanks in advance!

4 replies so far

View bbasiaga's profile


1242 posts in 2232 days

#1 posted 12-30-2012 04:58 AM

Hmm….maybe cut a 4×6 hole in a larger piece of plywood. Place the tray the hole (tight fit). Then you could build guides on the plywood sheet to make the proper pattern for the cut in the tray. Set the depth of the bit as necessary to reach the tray.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View Wdwerker's profile


333 posts in 2471 days

#2 posted 12-30-2012 07:12 AM

Make 2 L shaped pieces the thickness of your tray blanks. These will make a rectangle around the tray so your router won’t tip. You can mount strips on top of these to limit the size of the cut. One half can be mounted to a base, the other half can be clamped. Use double faced tape to hold the tray blank in place. After cutting blow or vaccum all the shavings away, unclamp half of the frame and use a putty knife to pop the tray loose. Repeat as needed

It might have been easier to rip the stock, route the tray then cut it off and route another one. The same jig would only have 3 fixed sides and you could clamp the long stock beyond the area being routed.
Set the final step of your plunge about 1/16 deep to clean up the cut, keep it moving across the end grain to prevent burns. If you are doing a lot of them watch out for resin building up on the bit, Clean as needed.

-- Fine Custom Woodwork since 1978

View JoshuaJCox's profile


16 posts in 2302 days

#3 posted 12-31-2012 04:22 AM

Once again I’m saved by Lumberjocks!

I ended up going with the two L-shaped pieces out of the ply. As I don’t have a jigsaw or anything of the like, it was easier to cut two pieces and fit them together around the blank. With a little finagling I managed to get it to work, and they’re in the process of turning out wonderfully. Thanks again!

View Chris208's profile


240 posts in 2507 days

#4 posted 01-01-2013 05:32 AM

Use carpet tape. Tape it to a surface and route away. I did this on a very small 3 by 5 piece a couple days ago. Worked like a charm.

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