I would like to start with a box-shaped piece of hardwood and make a (probably cylindrical) recess in it that nearly traverses the wood, leaving only a very, very thin, uniform layer of wood on the far side. Like this:

enter image description here

The thickness of the thinnest part should be similar to veneers.

Is this achievable with a forstner bit? If so what type? Any special setup?

An alternative: leaving a thicker floor in the recess then planing from the opposite side.

Aside: the goal is, roughly, to make an electrical switchplate cover that has an area where the wood is thin enough to be translucent, such that LEDs could shine through, similar to the following (but maybe with only a single digit of <1in height).


enter image description here

  • 1
    A practical point to note is that regardless of whether you mill this from a single piece as you're asking about or though-drill a block and glue on a piece of veneer (a much less challenging and far faster method to achieve basically the same end) the wood overlaying the hole will be very delicate as-is. I would give serious thought to reinforcing from the rear if you have the internal space, e.g. with a layer of clear resin which won't interfere with light transmission.
    – Graphus
    Jan 18, 2019 at 14:54
  • Unrelated to the how-to, have you selected the species you'd like to make this from yet?
    – Graphus
    Jan 18, 2019 at 14:59

1 Answer 1

  1. This was almost certainly done by creating a through hole and then gluing veneer over it.

  2. A forstner bit won't work - the edges and lead point make for a not perfectly flat bottomed hole.

  3. If you don't want to go with option 1, in a home shop I would use a router/router table to get close to the finished depth, then plane away at the front surface to get to finished thickness.

  • #3 can work with sawing as well - leave the block of wood an inch oversized, route the recess, then saw (table or band saw, probably) to achieve the desired thickness. I would guess that it should cause the minimal amount of stress on the thin part (I can easily saw paper thin strips on the table saw), vs. planning.
    – Eli Iser
    Jan 18, 2019 at 20:07
  • @EliIser, but sawing means you'd have to smooth off afterwards right (especially on the bandsaw!)? So how best to do that without risking damage to the thin section? My guess would be by hand planing.... oh wait ;-)
    – Graphus
    Jan 19, 2019 at 7:08
  • 1
    @Graphus smooth by sanding, obviously. I know there's a tendency to prefer planing over sanding, but this is definitely a place where sanding would be preferable.
    – Eli Iser
    Jan 19, 2019 at 14:38
  • thanks everyone for your ideas.
    – lcgerke
    Apr 2, 2019 at 20:49

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