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How To Cut A Channel In Wood Without A Router?

by Chooser Guide
how to cut a channel in wood without a router

If I asked you to name some of the most majestic hobbies, what would your answer be? I’m sure it won’t match mine. But I’m also convinced (nearly), woodcutting would be up there near the top because it is a majestic thing to spend your spare time and energy on.

You don’t need to be suited and booted from head-to-toe-to-a-full-blown-workshop stacked with all the tools. Woodcutting is indeed one of the fascinating hobbies that always feels worth the time spent after it.

And as long as you know what you are doing, you’ll have an outcome that’s good, if not great. What most people don’t seem to realize is that you don’t need to be all decked up for it.)

There is a lot you can do with some basic tools or with alternative tools if you don’t have the appropriate one. It’s not even a complicated or scary mind-boggling task.

Channeling or grooving is a frequent task that almost all the project involves to some degree. With a router, it’s easy as a, b, c. But without one? Probably not a, b, c but no more than a, b, c, d, e.

How To Cut A Channel In Wood Without A Router?

There are a few simple ways you can do a great job of channeling without a router. However, I will only discuss the chisel method, and the table saw method.

What about the others, you ask? Well, you don’t want to sit here all day, do you? You better apply the tricks yourself, that’s a better way of learning.

The Chisel Method

In this process, you’ll need no more than –

  • A chisel with the width as close as possible (but never larger) to the width of the channel or groove you want to make. (Having a wide paring chisel helps)
  • A light hammer
  • Measuring tools and pencil

When I look for alternatives to something, it’s usually either because my tool is not in working condition or straight-up, I don’t have the tool. Either way, I prefer this method because it’s really simple and it doesn’t depend on another power-tool to get the job done. So, here’s how to ‘get the job done’:

  • Step 1

Begin with measuring and marking the area you want to groove carefully. This makes a clear outline, which is easy to work with and hard to make an accident. Measure a second time to be confident a second time. This helps trust me.

  • Step 2

Take your main chisel and hammer and start chiseling. I prefer starting with the ends. This helps to prevent an accidental overcut in the end when you are kind of in a hurry to finish. You don’t want any odd-looking gap or plug in the end. Let me tell you; they are odd-looking and strange.

  • Step 3

Take your time, go slow, and chisel small bits at a time. None of the cuts needs to be particularly deep. Cutting/raising smaller bits at a time is far more important than going all the way in if you know what I mean.

  • Step 4

In case you didn’t go all the way in, you can make a second round from the starting end to the finishing end, to achieve the desired depth. Dividing the workload into smaller sections helps to prevent unwanted cuts and splintering.

  • Step 5

For a fine and smooth finishing, I prefer using a paring chisel to chop off a thin layer parallel to the markings I made. Everybody likes a smooth and fine finishing, right?

Also Read: Bosch Colt PR20EVS Variable-Speed Palm Router Review

The Table Saw Method

This method is less of an old-school method, unlike the previous one. And this one uses a power tool. Make a guess what the tool might be?

Anyway, the table saw method is also significantly faster and repeatable. This method is handy when your channel or groove reaches the end of the board on both ends.

Here’s what you’ll be needing –

  • Your table saw
  • Rip fence (for cutting along the length of the wood piece)
  • Miter gauge (for cutting along the width)
  • Tape measure (built-in scales nearly always manage to be inaccurate)

I’ll assume you are fairly familiar with your device, and simply explain the steps/cautions while grooving.

  • Step 1

To begin with, measure and mark the length and width of the channel you want to make. Adjust your blade height according to the depth of the channel.

  • Step 2

Put the safety gear on before starting to operate.

  • Step 3

Adjust the miter gauge or rip fence according to your need. Measure the distance with a tape measure.

  • Step 4

Consider the kerf. Put the blade on the outside of the pencil line to get an accurate result.

  • Step 5

Always use a push stick or other similar equipment for pushing the wood-piece. It would be best if you did not use your bare hand. Remember, safety comes first.

Final Thoughts

Well, since you are reading this, You followed along. It is simple to cut channels without a router, isn’t it? Honestly, it may take some time and a few test cuts first to get used to. But with proper care and caution, you should master the trick in no time.

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