I have a pallet style table that I am building. I have a plate of contoured glass that will sit on top of it. To discourage it's movement off the table I was going to put some rubber feet on the base of the glass which will fit into some circular recesses.

I figure they would be very shallow. Just enough to stop the feet from moving but enough to have a gap between the glass and the table. 1/8th to 1/4 inches deep at the most and less than an inch in diameter. This is what the glass looks like just sitting on top the table.

Table with glass top

Next is a picture with more focus on one of the corners.

enter image description here

The runners that I used both have bows in them. I have not issue with that since I take that as my table have a unique charm.

I the two best ideas I could think off are a drill press with a forstner bit or a plunge router. I currently own neither of these tools ( although I do have a fixed router and a table.)

Including the two mentioned tools, assuming they are viable, what tools (powered or otherwise) could I employ in creating a recess.

  • 1
    You could use the router, guided by a template -- but first you'd need to make the template or find something which can serve that purpose.
    – keshlam
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 1:49
  • Do you have a picture of what it looks like with the glass on top but without the feet and recesss? Will the feet lift the glass off the surface at all, or will the recesses be at least the depth of the feet? Have you considered holding the glass in place by insetting it or by adding trim around the edge instead, either flush or below the top surface, or by capturing the glass as in a picture frame?
    – rob
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 3:50
  • @keshlam I am inexperienced with routers so I was not sure. I assumed I would have to push into the work.
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 12:02
  • @rob Updated with pictures. The glass will "float" above the table. I had no intention of using trim. I think if I did it would look silly since the table runners are not square.
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 12:51
  • 1
    Nice work with the sound effects! I was so confused at first Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 13:42

5 Answers 5


I think everyone is overthinking the issue at hand here.

I figure they would be very shallow. Just enough to stop the feet from moving but enough to have a gap between the glass and the table. 1/8th to 1/4 inches deep at the most and less than an inch in diameter.

Really, all the OP is asking is how to make a circular recess 1/8" to 1/4" in depth, and less than 1" in diameter.

The OP mentions that he does not currently have a set of Forstner bits, nor a drill press. In my opinion, this would be the best tool for the job. For a hole 1/4" maximum, drilling freehand with a Forstner bit should be no problem whatsoever. I have personally drilled > 2" deep holes with a 2" diameter Forstner bit, freehand, with no ill effects to my health. Sure, the holes were a bit wonky, but that's not the point.

All discussion of making a template and using a router is way overkill. By the time one makes a router template, sets up the router to the correct depth, and routs out one of the recesses, I would have drilled all four holes freehand with a Forstner and moved on to other things. Considering the time invested in doing the router work, I think it's cheaper (and more efficient) to get a Forstner bit. Then, the OP will have a new tool for his arsenal that can be used down the road. (Isn't buying new tools half the point of woodworking anyway?)

Otherwise, a spade bit with spurs on the edges will do a decent job at this task while still being pretty cheap.

spade bit

If done correctly, one should end up with a circular recess that looks like this:


All it takes is a steady hand, and maybe a little patience and iteration to make sure the hole is the correct depth. Let us not forget that this is pallet furniture. I'm not trying to put down the OP's craftsmanship, but this isn't exactly a Greene & Greene restoration job. A little bit of tearout will not be a huge issue and can be sanded out of the softwood of which this pallet is made. The OP can always chalk it up to the unique charm of the piece.

Other drill bits could be suitable for this job as well. Please see this related thread for further reading.

Update: After reading some comments, I've seen that the OP indicated he may be making multiples of this table. In this case, the use of a template may be warranted since he would be amortizing the time invested on the template over multiple pieces.

  • I was just trying to come up with something that would not have that centered hole. Yes for this I guess I will just use spade bits ( of which I have) but for other projects I would consider other answers. This is a template table. I intend to create others. While I don't expect myself to make a router template that certainly is a repeatable process. Thanks for the answer. I had always assumed that forstner were only usable in presses and not free hand. For smaller holes that would be the way to go.
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 16:17
  • I understand - the center left over from drilling can be a bit distracting. you could always fill it with a wooden plug (or just glue), which should be a bit less obvious. If you are planning on making many pieces like this, a template may not be a bad investment in time. I've updated my answer to reflect our discussion.
    – grfrazee
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 16:33
  • 1
    I'd use a forsner bit and putty/glue in the centre hole. If this was me, I'd go freehand with a forsner bit in my battery drill.
    – tl8
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 12:16

for this job I think you could get away with using a Forsner bit in a power drill. 1/8" isn't much and could be done by hand, especially if these are smaller diameter bits. If they are smaller than 1" it can be done. The trick is to take it easy and not try to go too fast or push to hard. If there are any knots in the way you might need to try another method. I would also poke a little hole for the tip of the bit to catch to keep it from drifting while the rest of the bit starts to cut.

  • I did mention that in the post but it was not displayed numberically which might be why it was overlooked: and less than an inch in diameter. I could use the bits with a guide block which should help keep it true.
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 12:00
  • @Matt took out that part. Sorry I missed it.
    – bowlturner
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 12:52
  • I think I have missed way more than you have here on WW. Don't sweat it.
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 12:52

Reading the original post and your later comments, I think your best bet here would be to buy a spade bit specifically for this job and then modify it to suit your preferences.

This takes advantage of one of the key advantages of spade bits: their low cost. And this is even if you had to buy new, but rusty old ones are also very easy to find secondhand at yard sales, car-boot sales, in thrift stores or charity shops, in boxes of miscellaneous old tools or junk. Going by the usual prices for rusty old bits and bobs I'd doubt you'd have to pay more than a buck for one; I've gotten old auger bits for less.

Even without modification a spade bit of the right diameter I think would be fine as I presume the central hole wouldn't be visible after the rubber feet are in place. But since most spade bits are made of carbon steel they're easy to reshape by file if needed; even if made of HSS a grinder would make short work of the needed modifications (and there would be no worries there about overheating it during grinding).

Either way you could literally be done in five minutes after you got the bit home, well before ironing out the design of a router template, much less starting work on building it.

Two possible spade bit modifications:

Spade bit mods

The one on the left would leave a small depression in the centre, approximately the size that some Forstner bits create.

If this is not acceptable you could do the mod on the right, which will leave just a tiny pip of wood in the centre of the hole that would need to be pared off with a chisel. The reason I don't suggest this as the first thing to try is that without a central spur it will be much harder to accurately position a drill bit on a marked spot.

  • I have a bunch of old spade bits I could play with. Thanks for the idea.
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 0:50
  • You could also first drill with the left bit, then finish it off using the right bit with neither a center tine nor indent to smooth the hole.
    – Ast Pace
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 5:10

Chisels, a light hand and patience.

  • 1
    Is there some more substance you could add to this? What kinds of chisels specifically maybe for starters? Do you have any suggestions towards technique? I would think carving a circle with a square tool to be challenging especially one with an inch diameter.
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 12:04
  • Also not sure how to flatten out the bottom in a small space with only chisels.
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 13:15
  • Thereby patience. I figure the bottom of the recess doesn't have to be all flat. Your problem(?) is the borders. The pallet is made of quite soft wood and any tool might create tear outs. Even scary sharp tools might. On the upside though is that you seem to be looking for a rugged style and then a tear out only adds to the beauty. Hmm. First now I realise you aim to dig quite deep down. Can you make the recess shallower? Or borrow a forstner drill bit. A spade drill will probably create more tear out. FWIW
    – LosManos
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 14:19

Forstner is best, but you said you don't have one. If you have a spare, crappy old twist bit of the right diameter you can start the holes with the bit, then flatten the bit on a belt sander, then take your grinder to it to restore a clearance angle at the cutting edges (don't take off too much or you'll lose your flat edge.) Finish the holes with the flattened bit.

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