I am making a tablet holder. The tablet rests against a piece of plywood, and is surrounded on three sides by hardwood rails. The hard wood rails need to have a two step rabbet, one step for the plywood base, and another step for the tablet itself. See: tablet holder.

In the first iteration of this build, I used a tablesaw to cut the rabbets. My tablesaw has a 3/8" gap around the blade (i.e. no zero clearance insert). Making two rabbets requires four cuts, and making the last cut was particularly difficult because there was not a lot of wood left to ride against the table top and fence.

I am redoing this project for another tablet. How should I go about cutting this stair step pattern? I have a router and a few rabbet bits (some with bearings). Is there a safer and easier way to make this with another tool?


2 Answers 2


Generally when making small moldings you want to do most of the work with the molding still part of a large board. They very last step should be ripping it off of the board. That way you can reference the whole board when you're making the profile.

So in this case start with a 6"+ wide board, joint one edge, cut a rabbet by making one cut with the board on the table and one with it on edge against the fence, cut the second rabbet the same way, then rip off the width of the rail from the board.


The first thing I would recommend is making a zero clearance insert using plywood and a couple of set screws to properly level the insert in the slot. Working with small wood profiles increases the safety risk, and you should give yourself every advantage possible to avoid accidents. I would also look into featherboard fence attachments to help control the boards during the cuts to avoid fingers close to the blade.

This shape can be made on a table saw in two cuts if you have a dado sawblade set. Some sets can be quite expensive, but others are more reasonably priced and are very usable for a variety of special cutting conditions. One way to make the cuts is to start with a longer board then needed, cut the first dado and then fasten a temporary filler board to the workpiece with the screws located beyond the ends of the workpiece's final length to resore it to a square corner profile. That way any holes or other damage resulting from the screws is beyond the ends of your finished piece.

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