Jointing/Thicknessing on the router table - a new approach?

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Forum topic by KnickKnack posted 05-17-2011 04:22 PM 9640 views 1 time favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View KnickKnack's profile


1098 posts in 4072 days

05-17-2011 04:22 PM

Topic tags/keywords: jointing thicknessing router table jig trick

IMPORTANT – please see safety notes by contributors below

I have recently been finding the joy that comes from pieces of wood that are perfectly straight, flat, parallel and at 90° angles. Jointer/planers, can, of course, do this for you, if you have one.
I’ve seen the videos of how to use your router as a jointer – basically you configure your infeed/outfeed fences parallel but slightly offset, and you use the router cutter like the blades of a jointer.
I could have tried to make that, but it seemed to me there were a number of potential problems/drawbacks with that approach…
  1. You can only use that method it you have a router bit that’s high enough to make the joint in a single pass – most of the wood I have is fatter than my bits
  2. It takes time to set up the exact position of the fences in relation to the cutter – and you must set it up each time you want to joint
  3. It doesn’t thickness, just joint.

So I’ve come up with another method – I daresay I’m not the first to think of this, but I don’t recall reading about it anywhere before, so I thought I’d share it, in case this method proves useful to someone else.

The basic setup is shown here (note – the fence on the right isn’t used, but I forgot to remove it for the pictures, sorry)...

The key is to setup your fence on the other side of the wood.

Using this method, you can joint/thickness wood twice the size of your router cutter blade – simply flip the wood over onto its other face and run it through again.
After a few passes, steadily bringing the fence towards the cutter you have a perfectly jointed edge…

Flip the wood around, and you are not only jointing, but thicknessing the other edge too, after a couple of passes we’re getting there…

Until, finally you have 2 perfectly jointed, thicknessed edges…

The smallest movement of the fence allows you get to “sneak up on” a very precise thickness – i use this technique to make my splines exactly the right size.

You can also use it to joint/thickness the end grain in exactly the same manner…

In summary…
  1. You can joint/thickness very small pieces – pieces too small to put through the thicknesser. As long as you’re comfortable pushing the wood through, you can joint & thickness it.
  2. There is and can be no snipe
  3. You have complete control over how much to remove at each pass simply by adjusting the fence
  4. Width is no problem – if you have a board 12” (30cm) wide you simply need to place the fence that far away and off you go
  5. It’ll work to joint/thickness rhombus shaped pieces, should you so desire – pieces that the machinery wouldn’t do.
  6. You can joint/thickness wood that’s up to twice as fat as your router bit
  7. Router bits are a lot cheaper, and easier to replace, than jointer blades.

Apologies if everyone already knew this – but I didn’t so I figured some other novices might not know either.

Thoughts, comments, safety warnings etc – all welcome.

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

13 replies so far

View AaronK's profile


1508 posts in 3970 days

#1 posted 05-17-2011 05:01 PM

interesting approach, i like it a lot. it’s probably very important for your safety to keep the piece moving through the cutting path without stopping, and to keep the piece tight against the fence. i could definitely see this being put to use – it’s also a good reason to mount a router in the middle of a very long table/bench :-)

View knotscott's profile


8332 posts in 3881 days

#2 posted 05-17-2011 05:10 PM

The one significant drawback that exists with most alternative jointing methods other than a jointer is that they only edge joint, and don’t address the face. The jointer flattens a reference face, then puts an edge 90° to the face. If the face isn’t perfectly flat, there’s no guarantee you’ll get an edge that’s truly a uniform 90° to the face. I have seen people set up a tram system for their router so that the can flatten a face, but it’s a slow go. Hand planes seem to be a more efficient alternative for face jointing if you don’t have a jointer.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 3199 days

#3 posted 05-17-2011 10:24 PM

Interesting approach.. I’ve been joining using the first method you mentioned and this would be an easier way to do it. My only concern is some nasty kickback on square-r pieces like the one you used. Any hangups could make the board literally explode off the table

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View bstadtler's profile


4 posts in 3074 days

#4 posted 05-18-2011 12:46 AM

I think this can be very onsafe just because the wood is trapped between cutter and fence Be very careful.

-- where ever you go there you are

View KnickKnack's profile


1098 posts in 4072 days

#5 posted 05-19-2011 01:10 PM

Thanks to all.
I think I’d realised that there was a potential kickback problem, but somehow it hadn’t really sunk in as to how dangerous that could really be. You have, quite possibly, saved my digits or more.

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4485 days

#6 posted 05-19-2011 02:05 PM

I’m glad to see this was pointed out. A very dangerous way of doing what your doing.

Like Barry said, use a hand plane.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View cornflake's profile


36 posts in 3196 days

#7 posted 05-19-2011 02:18 PM

there is a better way of doing this on a router table.

what u do is place a 1/16th piece of plastic laminate on the infeed side of your router table and set the cutter flust to it that way you are taking very thin cutts and the board is no longer trapped between the fence and the bit. I think u have been lucky so far with your method. i also recommend using alond and tall push block and featherboard for max safety.

good luck.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16284 posts in 4724 days

#8 posted 05-19-2011 03:16 PM

Cornflake’s method is a safe one. I’m just afraid what you’ve got there in your photos is a recipe for a rocket launcher. :-)

As Scott mentioned, none of this addresses the problem of a board that doesn’t have a flat reference face, which leads me to another question. I have always wondered why edge jointing on a router table would be necessary in the first place. Since it only works well on a flat board, don’t you get the same result by ripping on the table saw with a good blade? I use a Forrest Woodworker II most of the time, and it leaves an extremely smooth surface. I’ve never felt the need to do any further prep on my glue joints, and I’ve never had a problem.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3792 days

#9 posted 05-19-2011 04:02 PM

There are a lot of good responses here, so this is simply another idea to consider. I do agree with using hand planes, especially on small pieces, but if you want to do it on a router table, a simple sled would be much safer. I think I would make one much like a taper jig for a table saw. (You do need a miter slot for this) It could be as big as you need it. Using T-track and clamps, or toggle clamps will make it very safe, even for small pieces. Clamp any kind of stop on the router table on the infeed side for reference. This way you always take off the same amount of material. The time building a jig will always be less than the time you spend in the ER.

I would not be comfortable with the way you are doing it.


View devann's profile


2250 posts in 3198 days

#10 posted 05-19-2011 04:55 PM

On the router table I use the method cornflake described except I use a pair of thin washers standing against the infeed fence with a steel ruler for a straight edge to set the outfeed side of the fence. Then remove the washers and use the straight edge to set the outfeed side of the fence to the cutter.

You can purchase a 2” x 1/2” straight cut router bits to make 90 degree edges on you stock. I use this method for removing saw marks of the side of a board and for getting a good edge for gluing pieces together

To use the tablesaw to straighten a longer board I’ve used my 5’ aluminum level clamped to the fence basicly increasing the length of the fence before the material starts into the blade. It does matter which side you put next to the fence. You should palce the crown of the board away from the fence into the blade.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View DavidNJ's profile


389 posts in 2499 days

#11 posted 02-14-2013 04:36 AM

I found these pics on a different forum. Not as bad as I thought…but it seems very time consuming!

I’d probably use transfer rollers under the slider to ride on the rails and a laminate or MDF for the cross piece to minimize friction under the router.

View Dzhaughn's profile


9 posts in 1700 days

#12 posted 04-12-2017 04:57 AM

I have recently posed a question on this method and a related one here:

Short version: I propose to do a shallow groove first, parallel to the edge, then trim the board parallel referencing the wall of that groove using say a jigsaw followed by a pass with a flush trim bit. Is that safer? Is cutting a groove by registering the edge against a fence something that is Not Done.

(Please note: Cornflakes method above is good for making a square straight edge, but it does not make a parallel edge, which is what I am asking about.)

Thanks for your input.

View Dzhaughn's profile


9 posts in 1700 days

#13 posted 04-12-2017 05:07 AM

@CharlieM I think it is implicit that using a table saw is excluded here. There is no reason why the OP can’t do the parallel cut on a table saw if he had one. He could do the first edge with a table saw, too, with a long sled.

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