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    A Router Guide For Any Groove

    This router guide can be used confidently in a variety of applications using any number and types of grooves

    The current project I am working on requires flutes in the columns of a fireplace mantel. I haven't had a need to cut them before so I set out to make a proper guide that would help me make controlled cuts. Flutes can be several feet long and one bit of waiver can ruin an entire job, as well as the board, so it's critical to utilize a dependable jig.

    To make the guide, I started with a thin press board and marked the router base attachment holes using the existing base. Drill out and countersink the holes and then attach the new base to the router. With a sharp bit in place, plunge the router down in order to leave a centered mark on the new base. Use the smallest bit to drill through the mark and then drill out the new hole with a large forstner bit starting on one side and finishing it on the other to ensure zero tearout. Finish the new base by routing parallel channels for the pair of fences created later.

    Each pair of fence bolts must be marked and drilled to the exact width between channels. A couple strips of non-friction tape on he inside of each fence really helps the guide slide along the edge of a board with minimal effort. At this point, the guide can be assembled for use, but not before the board(s) are marked with a few inches of the flute layout.

    Often flutes are required to be started and stopped within the piece instead of going through. Clamps and stop blocks take care of this task as well as holding down the board for routing. Remember to anticipate clearance for the handle once the router is plunged to the intended depth. Use the marks in the base cutout hole to line up the flute cut. At the same time, ensure that the router base sits flush against the stop block each time or you risk unequal lengths. If staggered lengths are required, use a series of stop blocks to achieve the desired effect. After setting the first fence, secure the guide with the other fence. As usual, before cutting on the production wood, try the setup on a test board which should help you get a feel for the guide and which router speeds to use to prevent burns. If everything is ready, start the router, plunge fully and move the guide right away. Keep pressure consistently one way or the other and unplunge immediately at the end of the cut.

    This kind of guide can be used confidently in a variety of applications using any number and types of grooves. The jig will also help you reach outside your comfort zone and step up your skills. In time, it's sure to be a regularly used item in your shop.