I got a new table saw and I'm about to start on a couple of project that require me to make grooves. I found a good tutorial to cut grooves for drawers and cabinets.


Now I want to cut some grooves into a sort of frame but I will not have a false front to hide the end of the grooves like a drawer would have. I need to cut the grove into the board minus about 1" on each end. See example below built in sketch-up.

After watching several tutorials about table saws I'm starting to think it might not be the right tool for the job (between kickback and cutting my fingers off).

enter image description here


What is a safe way to make this cut with a table saw (some sort of jig perhaps?) Or is there a better tool to use for the job?

2 Answers 2


Power tool

For a simple, efficient power tool approach I would consider a plunge router using a known straight edge as a guide. Using a straight bit you could cut in where you want and exit just the same. Use the guide to keep your cut true.

Plunge router with guide

Image from PopularWoodworking.com

If you think of these grooves as flutes there are jigs that can help with the process as well.

Fluting Jig

Image from Rockler.com

There is a way to still use the table saw

If you only have the table saw or want a way for that too work there is something you could do. Take a board that is of the right height and make it 15 inches long. Cut your groove from end to end using the tips you found. Then what you do is add the stops (appear to be about an inch) and glue them / screw them onto the ends. In case I lost a reader here the picture belong can help show where the how the 3 pieces would be attached.

enter image description here

You can do that all with a table saw. If you use different wood then you can create interesting accents on the drawers.

Hand tools

I love traditional tools and techniques so if I had the time I would be using chisels that are of the same width as you groove. To clean out the bottom of the groove you could use a router plane or poor man's router. You would use a knife wall to cut your edges and use those as a guide to keep it straight as you work.

The techniques I talk about in the second part of this answer would be applicable here as well.

For your project you would have an acceptable margin for error which would allow to make a few mistakes. If these are for drawers then errors could easily be hidden.

  • Excellent answer. Just what i was looking for. I do have a router but not the bit. But it may be worth buying for this. I do have chisels but im not sure how to use those for this application. Ill have to hunt down some tutorials on that. Thanks. Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 16:02
  • @danielson317 I did link to one way to do it. It was more for moritses but this is more or less the same: woodworking.stackexchange.com/a/2395/128.
    – Matt
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 16:27
  • @danielson317 If your interested in expanding on using chisels to carve out that recess that could easily be another question.
    – Matt
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 16:42

You are correct, a table saw or any other circular saw is not the tool to use for a blind groove. As you have researched there are safety issues, plus the groove will be arched at the ends. It can be done, but is not recommended, especially in conjunction with a first project.

The most common approach is to use a router mounted on a router table and use a straight bit. The bit does not need to be the same diameter as the width of the desired groove - it is best to make multiple passes when making a groove since it allows any thickness and makes the clearing of cuttings without clogging the cut. If necessary for a squared end, you will most likely need to employ a chisel.

  • 1
    A router with a guide of some variety id another good solution. Hand tools -- chisels and/or router planes -- are another solution.
    – keshlam
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 0:25
  • Helpful but would appreciate a better explanation of how to perform the cut. Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 16:01

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