Cutting through 1.5" oak - the straight way!

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Forum topic by pashley posted 09-19-2013 11:32 AM 2446 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1031 posts in 2757 days

09-19-2013 11:32 AM

Don’t you love when you take on a project, and don’t stop to think how you can accomplish it, technically?!

Here’s my dilemma – doing a desk. The top is 1.5” white oak. I need to do several cut-outs for electronic panels that are to be sunken into the desk – basically, rounded-corner squares, about 14” square, three of them. I need to keep the cut-outs, as they might be put back in one day (so I can’t just rout out a big hole).

My first thought was a jig saw, but I don’t think the blade will stay straight, and I’ll end up with the sides of the cut being somewhat diagonal, unless their is a very rigid blade out there….couldn’t really find anything on Amazon.

A Sawz-All would run into the same problem I believe, and is not very accurate or easy to control.

A router would be nice, with perhaps a 1/4” straight cut bearing bit, so I could use a template? However, a 1/4” is quite a bit of loss in material?

Anyone have advice/ideas?

-- Have a blessed day!

20 replies so far

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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2008 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


3052 posts in 1326 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.

View pashley's profile


1031 posts in 2757 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


71 posts in 1202 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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1031 posts in 2757 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


3877 posts in 2010 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.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View pashley's profile


1031 posts in 2757 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


3052 posts in 1326 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


2448 posts in 760 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


4100 posts in 1852 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


140 posts in 1703 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


8520 posts in 2688 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


2067 posts in 1014 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.

1526 posts in 1514 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.

View Steve Peterson's profile

Steve Peterson

294 posts in 2121 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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