Router/Table Saw Cutting Grooves

4 Aug 2014
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West Midlands
United Kingdom
Hi. I have a need to cut some 6mm wide grooves into some stud timber (not used for stud wall but for something else) and the grooves will be 6mm from each edge of the side. Some timber will be 63x38mm and some 89x38mm and the grooves will be on the wider side of the wood.

I tried to get away with this using my sliding Mitre saw (see attached picture) but it isn't accurate enough, I need to be accurate. I think my Mitre saw needs some calibration but even so, if I can get it calibrated soon I still don't think i'll be accurate enough.

So, I wanted a table saw for a while and no time like the current need so, I looked into them and then found that it's highly not recommended to cut grooves or rabbets etc using a table saw due to the risk of kickbacks and UK table saws therefore have a rive blade which sits above the blade meaning you can't do this without removing the blade, making it unsafe.

So, then I believe a router is the best option but not having used a router before or know much about them, is this the best and safest option to cut grooves and would I actually be able to make small grooves of 6mm wide and only 6mm from the edge of the timber accurately?


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Yes the yanks use a dado blade which is a thick blade to the of the groove. They are highly dangerous and not available in the UK but then it is America and they put trump in power.

A router is the correct tool to use. If you are steady enough I suppose you could do it free hand using the adjustable guide but I prefer to use a router table which makes life a lot easier, safer and much more accurate rabbets. Be sure to push the wood past the router bit in the correct direction. I think it's if your blade is spinning clockwise then the wood should be moved from right to left so that it goes with the direction of the blade spin. Having said that that only applies with an edge cut. It doesn't matter if cutting a groove because one side off the cut will alway be going against that blade rotation. Summat like that anyway plenty of vids on Youtube.
Agreed on the router being safer, especially for a novice. Look for grooving cutters for this application as they are far easier to use than straight router cutters
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Thanks guys, appreciate the responses. A router it will need to be and to be fair, the more I look the more they look like they can do some really good stuff. The problem is now finding one I can justify. For example, any I find below £300 seem to have bad reviews regards excessive play and general bad quality. I am not sure I will use one often enough for £300 and then adding to that a price of a table the cost will mount up. The more I look at them the more I want one but, need to have a serious think if I just want a new toy or if I really can justify it.
You can buy and use dado stacks in the UK, Axminster sells them (although you wouldn't need one for a 6mm groove, as this could be done with two passes with a regular 1/8" thick blade with a FTG tooth configeration). Cutting grooves can be done without removing the riving knife as long as you have one which allows this - the riving knife on my Evolution Rage can be dropped down so it sits parallel with the top of the blade allowing you to cut grooves and dados (I would never cut anything on a table saw without a riving knife).

My understanding is that the bit that isn't allowed in the UK is the removal of the blade guard to make the cuts, though grooves can be cut using an overhead guard (one that sits above the blade on an arm rather than on the riving knife). AFAIK this rule only applies to commercial workshops and not DIYers, who are free to be as dangerous as they like. If you go down this route then either use an appropriate guard or do so at your own risk.

With all that said, a router will likely be cheaper, take up less room, and you can cut the grooves in a single pass if you have the right sized cutter. Mine is some cheap brand and I got it 2nd hand for about £40. If I was buying a new one I would probably go for one of the Triton routers - not cheap, but definitely less than £300.

Just a note about router use (or any other power tool with a spinning blade really), the work needs to encounter the blade AGAINST the direction of spin - if you go with the direction of spin the work can be pulled out of your hands (and your hands pulled into the blade if using a router table). Not good.
To use a stacked dado set requires a table saw with a long enough arbor to accommodate them - something small portable table saws generally lack, and even most workshop ones lack these days, so why make the point? TBH they are rather unforgiving tools and best left to experienced (and ideally trained) users. Personally I think they unless you own a proper cast iron table saw you are asking too much of the motors and bearings on a lightweight saw to accommodate this sort of tooling

AFAIK they fail safety on a number of points in the UK, not just a single point: first off the.saw needs to be modified so that the 10 second emergency stop (mandatory on all sawd sold since 2000) still functions (most saws cannot accommodate this), secondly as you stated the user will need to rig up some form of overhead or ceiling supported crown guardingand thirdly the tooling design of a stacked saw dado head is questionable legal on the grounds that it is not an anti-kickback design and therefore potentially illegal and finally. No wonder few firms are willing to sell them, and no wonder trade woodworkers generally seek alternative, safer approaches - such as the router and groove cutter combination detailed above.

BTW have you ever actually used a stacked saw dado head or trenching head on a table saw (or the far safer option of a radial arm/crossfit saw)?
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How accurate do you need?
I ask as I use a sub £100 router and home made table and cut exactly what you are doing - 600mm lengths of 6mm slots 5mm from edge - to make myself LED panel light boxes (ie I am diyer, not making items for professional use).

They are all clean an straight enough for the 600mm long panels to fit without issue.

I guess I am asking that if this is for small / home get a sub £100 router and make a quick table with a fence screwed 6mm from router bit. :

Make a wooden n shaped jig on the bottom of your router
Screw a say 10cmm by 10cm wood plate to router base that is wider than the wood you have.
Screw two runners to this wood plate that leaves a gap this is as wide as the wood you wish to route and puts the router bit 6mm from the edge.
Run this jig along the lengths of your wood.

Like this but more simplistic in design:
Screenshot 2020-05-13 at 17.31.59.png

or this
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I wasn't advocating the use of a stacked dado blade, just pointing out that, contrary to a previous post, they are available in the UK and AFAIK legal to use for DIYers and maybe commercial workshops - perfectly happy to be proved wrong when it comes to commercial workshops. I've never used one and don't intend to - as I stated, I would never cut anything on a table saw without a riving knife because of kickback. I have used my table saw to cut grooves by removing the guard because I have a riving knife that allows this. I don't work in a commercial workshop and I know that I remove the guard at my own risk.

I did state that the router was probably the best way to go, however lots of router tables (particularly home made ones) don't have guards, and can also suffer from kickback (especially when doing a second pass on a groove) so I'm not sure they should be considered a safe option. Personally they don't feel any safer than a table saw to me.
So why bring up something as a suggestion which is known to be a dangerous approach, which you have (seemingly) no experience of and which woild require the OP to make a major investment?

And who said anything about router tables? For such a small groove it is easier, faster and cheaper to use a router in the hands
I really appreciate all the replies to this question, fantastic responses and really helped me. It may sound daft but, I honestly never really saw a router in action nor really knew their potential until researching table saws for cutting grooves. Thankfully I found information about kickback and UK regulation which prompted me to post here for knowledge help else I could very well be sat here now with no fingers wishing I could type on a keyboard. I searched up on YouTube about table saw kickback and saw one video of a guy, an American obviously, creating kickback on purpose to demonstrate it!!! Jesus Christ... 1000% I am not doing this type of work on a table saw, i've had these hands all my life and I use them every day, I really want to keep them.

Anyway, the good news is, the kids said Father's Day is coming up and they are struggling for ideas so I was cheeky and said "i'd really like a Triton MOF001, though honestly, just you guys being alive and healthy is gift enough". They got right on it and did a click and collect with Screwfix, a few days later and I am looking at it now on my desk. All that scrap wood in the garage is just waiting for me to practice a new skill.

The downside, the wife was very enthusiastic about getting a router because apparently I can now make, this, that, the other, etc etc. She emptied her pockets with ideas which sound great but, it means work I need to do. I did have to say, just because I have a router it doesn't instantly make me a fecking expert, give me time before I am let loose on real things.

Anyway, again thank you all. This Vodka is making me chatty so i'll stop here.

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