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Someone please enlighten me on milling juice grooves and finger grooves in cutting boards.

I tried it on a nice thick cherry board tonight and struggled all the way. After I puffed the 1st passed I had to make it ¼ thinner. I finally got the grooves in but the router left some stubborn burns that I still can't get out! I don't think I'll be doing grooves in the future simply because they take too much effort.

Is there an easy way?
 

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Burns can be caused by a dull bit, low quality bit, taking too big a bite per pass, or moving too slow. You can't stop, especially on the turns, or you will always get burning. You are right that burns are about impossible to sand out of grooves. I wouldn't say that there is an easy way, but the more you do, the easier it becomes. This is because after screwing up a few, you figure out what you did wrong and adjust your process. Been there, and done that a few times. One thing I learned a while back is if you buy the highest quality bits, and you eliminate 50% of your problems up front.

All it takes is making a template the size of the inside of the grove, double side tape it to the board and (carefully) follow the outside using a template insert. Finger groves are the easiest. I use a MDF template and a straight bit (Onsrude is the best), when making finger holds like the Wood Whisperer style. If I am cutting horizontal finger groves in the center of the edge, I use a tall fence on my router table and set a left and right stop. I slowly lower the board down on the straight bit and move side to side until I hit the stops.
 

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Tried my first grooves and also got some burning, I think my bit is dull and I did slow down in the corners trying to be careful not to overshot the other groove in the corner. On the finger slots I used a rabbiting bit on the router table set at the middle of the thickness of the board and used the fence to only allow a 3/8 in deep cut on each end, that way I can use the board on both sides, one with a juice canal and the other without and still be able to pick it up. Sanded the heck out of the corners but still have burn marks. Live and learn, practice.
 

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Don't try to complete the groove in one pass and allow for a final clean up pass to remove most of the burn. Use sharp bits and keep the router moving at an even pace, try not to stall or slow down in the corners (round or square). Cross grain burns the worst and Cherry burns very easily.
 

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Ok. Everyone gave you some good hints on the bits. If you do get burn marks, I found a way to get them out with a little effort. Take some Naptha and put a few drops on the burn mark and let it soak in. Then when you sand it, it loosens the burn up and sands right out. Depending on how burned it is you will have to experiment with how much Naptha to use. Hope this helps when you do get the burn marks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Wow!! Thanks for all the responses guys!!!

I think my bit is probably substandard. It came in one of those sets from Costco.

I did use a template but screwed up on the direction right off the start and it wandered off the line.

I took small bites of about 1/8 so the reason it burned is probably the bit.

I think on getting a new one and going a hair deeper to cut the burn out.

I will try to find some Naphtha too. The thing that ticked me off was this was the premo board of the bunch. I'm making 13 of them to give as gifts and a few of them are to go to my brother's furniture store to see if they sell.

This on was to go to the store!
 

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You will be amazed at what a difference a good Freud or Whiteside bit will make. This is one of those "one shot" processes that you have to be completely focused when undertaking. It will get easier once you do a few of them.
 

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One other key thing is to keep the router bits clean. I'm a big fan of Citrus-Solv (spelling uncertain) which I use to get rid of pitch build-up on bits and blades in general.

Just keep the stuff out of any bearings. It's a water-cleanup.
 

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Kevin,
Closetguy and a couple others really nailed it, high quality bits are worth the cost. My preference is using the Whiteside bits, thats my first choice than if I can't find what I need I look at Freud.
There is some good advise posted above, it all adds up.
 

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The statements on quality bits have been well covered. Regarding the effort of doing the project though, templates and double sided tape are the only way to fly. Obviously, they don't have to be a one shot item.

You could make corner templates that force the template guide to following them (even if you inadvertently run counter clockwise) that independently install on each corner (that would be eight template pieces just for the corners). That would allow you to make individual straight run templates (eight more pieces) of varying lengths for different projects.
 
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