Woodworking Tips
Woodworking Tips Index
Cutting a Slab, Part 2
Last week, I wrote about cutting a thick, glued-up slab to length using a circular saw.

Today, another option: cut it to length using a hand-held router and a straight bit. It's a little more time consuming than using a circular saw, but will give a smooth end with a clean shoulder.

Note: As a third option, you can cut the slab slightly (1/8") oversize first with a circular saw, and then use this technique to come back and trim it with a router.

To make the cut with the router, start by laying out a cut line and a fence line. (The distance between the cut line and the fence line is the equal to the distance from the outside of the bit to the outside of the router base plate.)

After marking the cut line, lay out the fence line parallel to it. Then use a square to scribe the fence line around the slab -- so it's on both the top and bottom surfaces. (You need to scribe the fence line on both sides of the slab because you'll start the cut on one side and finish it on the other side.)

Next, to prevent chipout at the end of the cut, score the cut line on the edges of the slab, or clamp pieces of scrap to the edges.

To make the cut, mount a straight bit in your router. In this situation, bigger is better. If you have a 1/2" diameter shank straight bit, use it -- the bit will vibrate less and give you a cleaner more controlled cut.

Then clamp a straight edge or fence along the fence line. Now, holding the router base plate against the straight edge, make a series of passes all the way across one side. Cut a 1/4" or so deeper with each pass, until you're a little more than half way through the thickness of the slab.

Now flip the slab over, carefully clamp your straight edge or fence to the fence line on the other side of the slab and start routing. Make a series of progressively deeper passes until the waste end falls away.

Go to Tip #67
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