Cutting Board - Cutting End Grain Finger Groove by Hand

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Forum topic by Syellin posted 09-18-2015 02:37 PM 2243 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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9 posts in 1641 days

09-18-2015 02:37 PM

Topic tags/keywords: hand tool cutting board groove technique

I am making a cutting board using nicely figured 6/4 walnut, entirely with hand tools. This will be a face grain cutting board to show the figure rather than an end grain board. I would like to cut a finger groove in the ends, but I don’t have a power router. What is the best technique to cut a finger groove in 1 1/2 inch end grain that will look neat and clean? I have a 1/4 inch mortise chisel…should i just chop a shallow mortise into the end grain?


4 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117722 posts in 4086 days

#1 posted 09-18-2015 03:10 PM

If I understand what you want to do properly,you could start by drilling a bunch of over-lapping shallow holes using a board clamped in place as a guide to keep your holes in a straight line,chisel out the waste and clean it up with a round file and or sandpaper wrapped around a dowel of the proper size

View Tim's profile


3859 posts in 2471 days

#2 posted 09-18-2015 05:17 PM

I take it you’re trying to do a groove like this?

I’ve never chopped a mortise into end grain. It doesn’t seem like it would work very well to chop straight into it, but you could try it on a piece of scrap. I’m thinking use a marking knife to define the area then put a chisel bevel down with the bevel nearly flat then chop sideways carefully. Then a router plane to level off the final 1/16” or less. Or if you have a gouge you could do a rounded groove instead of squared.

View Kazooman's profile


1359 posts in 2462 days

#3 posted 09-18-2015 06:56 PM

I think it might be tough to get a smooth bottom on the mortise.

Do you have an 8” dado stack? It would be interesting to see if you could use it to make a finger groove. I would consider having the stack just below the table surface and clamping the board to the fence. Start the saw and raise the blade. You could easily set the fence to center the cut on the width of the board and have it centered on the end. You would need to experiment to see how much to raise the blade to get the desired size slot (count rotations of the raising handle).

This would give a finger groove with a rounded profile that might be a nice design feature (or NOT!).

Ooops….. I just reread your post and saw the “hand tools only” admonition. So much for the dado stack idea.

View Syellin's profile


9 posts in 1641 days

#4 posted 09-24-2015 07:22 PM

Unfortunately I don’t have a table saw, so can’t use the dado stack. I think i’m going to try to simply use a chisel and router plane as Tim suggests.

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