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Routing a groove

jyang949's picture

One piece of my weaving loom is a long, octagonal cylinder. I need to put in a lengthwise groove to hold a rectangular stick, but which face should be routed? The grain is oriented differently in different faces.

In use, the stick will be pulled tightly against one wall of the groove, so strength is as important as a clean cut. The attached drawing shows the beam in cross-section, and the arrows show the direction of pull. Which is the better location for the groove, A or B?

Thank you--


jazzdogg's picture

(post #85504, reply #1 of 12)

Hi Janet,

Since wood expands and contracts very little along its length, the option you presented on the right side (B) should yield tighter looking joinery. Expansion and contraction of plainsawn wood is approximately twice that of quartersawn wood, to option A could prove problematic.

Good luck


"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Gil Bailie


"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Gil Bailie

mrbird90's picture

(post #85504, reply #2 of 12)

I have made my poles from Ash and have used both A & B conditions and have never had a problem. I prefer A as I think there is less chance of the wood splitting. If you are using a soft wood then strength could be a problem. I have made about 10 frames like this.

Edited 5/27/2007 9:39 pm ET by mrbird90

philip's picture

(post #85504, reply #3 of 12)

I don't believe it matters much, but would prefer B as the sides of the groove would rout smoother and possibly the fit would remain snug as there would be less influence from any wood movement (which would be insignificant anyway). Is the "stick" to be removable or is it to be glued in place? It may be more pertinent to consider that the grain direction of the stick should match that of the cylinder.What are the width and height of this stick anyway? How long is the octagonal cylinder?
If there is a question of load bearing then A is stronger, but I assume the "stick" is not much taller than the groove, and anyway this is spread along the length of the cylinder.
It's a question of plusses and minusses....Philip Marcou

Edited 5/28/2007 5:58 am by philip

Philip Marcou
jyang949's picture

(post #85504, reply #4 of 12)

Thank you for all the advice. I'll try B first, and with luck there won't be a need to move on to A.

But now that it's time to go ahead and rout, I just thought of other questions. What kind of setup/jigs would you use to keep the router level and moving in a straight line, or would you use a router table? Several passes or one pass?

Both stick and beam are about 3ft long. The removable stick is 13/16in wide and 1/2in high and holds loops of thread. The groove needs to be just large enough so the wrapped stick fits snugly and is flush with the beam.


warp-beam1.jpg42.47 KB
warp-beam2.jpg37.1 KB
philip's picture

(post #85504, reply #5 of 12)

Janet, if I had to rout it I would prefer to use the router and table, and do it in one pass-which means a fattish router and the right size cutter.Depends on your router and the state of the cutter. Hopefully the fence will have a flat face rather than an apex bearing against it. Also the type of wood may influence whether or not you do it in two passes- you may find there is not enough chip clearance, in which case it would be better to do two passes.But then again, if you used a smaller diameter cutterand routed full depth, then changed end for end the cut would be centralised-useful when this is critical.
I would not want to do this with the router going on top because of the start and end issue and the fence of the router not being as effective as a fence on a router table. Also there is the question of supporting this work suitably for the router to bear on. But if you have no router table it can still be done-just more flap....
Me? I would prefer to do that on the spindle....

Philip Marcou

Philip Marcou
jyang949's picture

(post #85504, reply #6 of 12)

Showing my ignorance here, but what is the spindle?

philip's picture

(post #85504, reply #7 of 12)

Sorry- spindle= spindle moulder= shaper.

Edited 5/29/2007 2:55 am by philip

Philip Marcou
Patto's picture

(post #85504, reply #8 of 12)


I had a similar stability problem routing from the top recently (coves on the edge of a curved piece approx 1"*3") I dont own a router table (one of these days...). I was able to set distance by using a bearing bit. to get the required stability I screwed an off-cut of the piece onto the router fence (extended about 6") as an outrigger. This gave me a surface that was effectively 8" wide which was ample for stability and allowed me to do the curved edges.

by the way - you need a flat smooth bench to do this so I put a big piece of MDF down on top of my bench.


jyang949's picture

(post #85504, reply #9 of 12)

It just occurred to me that this old beam may not have perfectly flat sides, and running it along a fence may result in a crooked groove.

How do you rout a straight, level groove in an object that may itself be warped?


philip's picture

(post #85504, reply #10 of 12)

Plane it straight, depending on the amount of warp. Otherwise it would be better to select another piece: it is not as if it is a big and rare/expensive bit of wood.

Philip Marcou

Philip Marcou
JohnWW's picture

(post #85504, reply #11 of 12)

Groove A is far less likely to have problems with splitting away of the edges and splinters forming.  The small dimensions of the groove and the probability that the stick doesn't need to be a tight fit makes expansion and contraction problems immaterial.  Either groove would have more than enough strength.

My first choice for cutting this groove would be a dado set on a table saw.  If the beam isn't quite straight, it could be mounted on a straight board to guide it along the rip fence.

John White, Shop Manager, Fine Woodworking Magazine  

John White Shop Manager for FWW Magazine, 1998 to 2007

jyang949's picture

(post #85504, reply #12 of 12)

Thanks, John. Since I don't have a dado set, nor a decent saw, I'm going to take it to my neighbor. He recently retired and is on a long trip with his wife, but it's worth waiting because retirement also encouraged his wife to say, "Just go ahead and *buy* those tools you've been wanting for so long!" A cabinet saw, a *huge* bandsaw, sliding table, etc. Most of them are labeled Laguna Tools...