I am working on a cutting board and would like to plunge route "handles" into either side of it with a cove bit and it seems the best method would be with a router table.

What would be the technique to adequately support the work piece (cutting board, standing on end in this case) and also perform a plunge cut on the router table?

I've also found this result for accomplishing this with a handheld router, but my question is geared more generically to performing plunge cuts on a router table: How can I make an inset cutting board handle?

  • Please be aware that a cove bit is not (despite what the linked question says) a bullnose bit, and is not suitable for what you want to do. Sep 20, 2016 at 21:43
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    @WhatRoughBeast, are you thinking a cove bit will always have a bearing? Not all do.
    – Graphus
    Sep 21, 2016 at 7:31
  • @WhatRoughBeast, can you elaborate on the difference? I was thinking of a cove bit that has no bearing and is shaped almost like a half sphere... Is that not correct? Is it called a bullnose or roundnose once the bearing comes off?
    – Brad P.
    Sep 21, 2016 at 9:54
  • You can't convert between the two. If you take the bearing off a cove bit, you're still left with the bearing shaft sticking out. Grind that off and the blank spot will not cut. That's not exactly a problem as long as you don't try any plunge cuts, but the profile is also different from a bullnose, which doesn't have the flat. Sep 21, 2016 at 12:00
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    Brad, just buy a suitable bit. The thing about cove bits having a bearing on the bottom is just a distraction, simply pick one that doesn't. Whether it's called a cove bit (as the one I link to above is) or a roundnose bit by the maker is irrelevant. This is one case where it's not necessary to get hung up on the terminology — you're going to buy based on what it looks like, not based on what it's called.
    – Graphus
    Sep 22, 2016 at 7:40

1 Answer 1


Plunge cuts on a router table are done by lowering the wood onto the spinning bit, holding it against the fence to stabilize it.

A higher-than-usual fence may help. Featherboards pushing the work piece agains the fence definitely help.

Marks can be made on the fence to indicate where the board should be at the start and end of the cut, so you can align the start properly and not overshoot the end.

As always, consider cutting to progressively greater depths until you reach your target depth rather than trying to do it all in a single pass.

Be sure to keep a firm grip on the board... But to keep your fingers safely away from the bit.

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    Good answer; correct in every respect. However, I'd always think about how to construct a jig to do this with a handheld plunge router instead of plunging onto a table... Sep 21, 2016 at 3:56
  • @AloysiusDefenestrate -- I have to agree. When I read the description of the task by the OP, plunge router and jig is the only method that came to mind and the only method I would use. Then again, I work with my plunge router easily 10 times more than I do work with my router table. Jigs are the secret to success.
    – K7PEH
    Sep 23, 2016 at 16:03
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    On the other hand, I routed 3 stopped flutes into each of the 4 sides of balustrades for a railing using my plunge router mounted in my little, bitty aluminum router table, and everything came out just fine. Used masking tape on the fence to mark the ends of the cuts, plunged one end of the wood near, but not at the end, made a short climb cut to that end, then the final, normal direction cut to the other end. I took my time, worked very carefully and managed to not remove any fingers or launch any wood.
    – FreeMan
    Sep 27, 2016 at 20:42
  • Remember that a router table is just a kind of jig ... And the secret to routers is that a router is cheap and compact compared to all the accessories you're going to be tempted to add to it
    – keshlam
    Sep 27, 2016 at 21:31

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