Any tips on how to do what I'm asking are welcome, but first of all I would like to ask for the correct terminology (because not knowing it prevents me from even Googling myself).

Maybe the title is not totally clear (because I don't know the right term), so let me explain in detail:

  • suppose you have a thicker plank or other dimension lumber, something like this log

  • now let's say, you want to make the middle part more deep in a rectangular area, but not cut completely through the lumber, like this:

              |                     <------ untouched part
              | +-----------------+ |
              | |                 | |
              | |               <---------- deeper, flat, but not   
              | |                 | |       cut through surface
              | |                 | |
              | |                 | |
              | |                 | |
              | |                 | |
              | |                 | |
              | |                 | |
              | |                 | |
              | |                 | |
              | |                 | |
              | +-----------------+ |
              |                     |

One example use case, just to give an idea, would be building a table top from which the tools (like screw drivers, pencils, etc.) cannot roll down. (The actual use case I'm planning to do, is building a base for a power-strip, inspired by this answer.)


  • What is this process called? (I thought I remembered something like "embeveling", but that is not the correct word, because it means "chopping off the edge at a degree.) -- This is actually the most important.

  • What tools can be used to do this?

  • What is the procedure for doing this?

  • 1
    For future reference this is too many queries in one. The follow-on query on the tools to create a recess is fine, the one on how is a Question in its own right.
    – Graphus
    Mar 1, 2020 at 14:14
  • Thanks, I'll keep that in mind.
    – Attilio
    Mar 1, 2020 at 15:24
  • My new fav youtuber youtube.com/watch?v=rPGa5QBQHmQ
    – Alaska Man
    Apr 14, 2020 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


Some of the words that fit your objective are mortise and recess. Typically a mortise is an opening cut part way into wood to receive a tenon to create a strong joint. A mortise is described also as a recess. You can also use inlay to find other useful references.

For a large area project as you describe, a set of chisels and gouges would be useful if you intend to perform this action using hand tools.

wood chisels for carving

A method using power tools requires either a router table or a router jig. One could attempt the process without either, but the depth of the recess would be inconsistent and may not result in an acceptable appearance.

A more comprehensive answer can be found on this SE.

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