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How to Cut a Channel in Wood with a Router – Routing Channels in Wood

Cut a Channel in Wood

In the world of woodworking, to channel wood is a basic step. If you want to join wood or carve out wood signs, that is the first thing one can start with. CNC Routers are powerful instruments that are used to cut portions out of wood when working with them. It’s mostly used to decorate a piece of wood, cut the edges and surfaces, or simply cut a channel into the face of wood to conceal electrical connections or even pipes. You can have any purpose. A plunge router is the easiest instrument to use to cut a channel in a piece of wood, whether it’s straight or curved. Cutting short channels with a rotary tool is also possible but routing channels in wood can turn out to be more of a challenge. But don’t worry if you don’t know how to cut a channel in wood with a router; we’re here to help.

Cut a Channel in Wood

Routers can be used for several purposes. Initially routing out wood was only used for decorative uses but now they are one of the most versatile and precise machines in the history of woodworks. Now any shape can be achieved. Whether it’s to cut a square hole in wood, make channels, or joints. These instructions are a basic guide to how to cut through a groove, one that goes across the full width of the workpiece. Here is how to cut a channel in wood with a router but first, let’s look at these vital tips.

How to Cut a Channel in Wood with a Router

The pre-stage: Choosing the Perfect Equipment

First things first, you need to decide what kind of an instrument you will use. There are many ways to cut a channel in wood but in this guide, we recommended a router. A router will be needed. To understand this, you must know that we have two main router types, fixed vs plunge router. They are easily operable making them considerable for your next woodwork projects. The two routers are:

  • Fixed Router model
  • Plunge Router model
plunge router
Plunge Router
how to route a channel in wood
Fix Base Router

For cutting a channel in wood, a plunge router is used. It makes the process much easier and smoother than any other router. The kind of plunge router you use depends upon the requirement of your work. The hobbyist, who has light work usually considers the machine to be around 400 to 600 W. The people who have medium work and pick up their routers occasionally go for a 750 to 1200W router and lastly, the professional woodworkers prefer 1200W and upward wood router to complete their heavy woodwork. More significantly, the routers are going to be available at a variety of speeds. The rates will typically range from 800 to 30,000 revolutions per minute.

Apart from knowing the types of routers few other things you should consider are:

  • There should be handles on either side for extra support
  • The router should be equipped with a baseplate
  • The router blade should be sharp
  • Choose the ideal router bit

Before you start using the router to cut through the channel that you want, make sure the router’s blade is locked and follow all the safety rules for woodworking.

Routing Channels in Wood with a Router

Now that you have selected the type of router, it’s time that we start using a router to cut wood. The process consists of six easy steps and before we officially start, we must warn you to be careful because the tool can be dangerous if used the wrong way. The router normally cuts wood with an unsecured, high-speed, spinning blade that can be lethal if misused. Hence, here’s the ideal approach to rout wood while we also ensure your safety.

1. Securing the Wood

how to cut a channel in wood with a router

The first step is to secure your wood slab. Make certain arrangements to keep your wood safe and static. The router’s fence edge should be kept straight, leveled correctly, and smoothly. Make every effort to avoid any nicks or bumps along the fence’s edge because they can easily impact your channel. If you’re cutting through wood with a fence, keep in mind that you’ll need additional support. This will provide you with a larger foundation area on which your router may easily travel a few inches to get its job done. This one also guards against any kind of tipping.

2. Choosing the Router Feed Direction

Router Feed Direction

The second step in woodworking channels is selecting the router feed direction. You may need to route along with the inside corners of a cutaway region when freehand routing. Consider routing around a donut’s interior cutout. The feed direction shifts in certain cases. Hence, the router surrounds the wood when routing the center, there is no incorrect or right feed direction. However, it is recommended that you walk from left to right to ensure that the barrier remains in place.

3. Selecting the Right Router Bit for Routing Channels in Wood

routing channels in wood

The third step in learning how to router wood, is to select the appropriate router bit. The perfect router bit for cutting a channel in wood is the cutter’s bit. The diameter of the bit will define the cutter bit’s size. The main depth and width of the canal you’ll cut will also be determined by this. For instance, if you use a 1 by 2-inch bit for your channel, you’ll need a 1 by 2-inch cutter bit. In addition, if you need a wider channel, the bit you’re utilizing will need to be larger as well.

Connect the router’s end to the bit you chose. Remove the circular protection from the router’s bottom to gain access to the bit mechanism. Remove the bit from the router by loosening the bolt holding it in place using a tool. Retighten the bolt with your wrench after inserting the end of the new bit into the hole at the bottom of the router.

4. Avoiding Tear Away

Cutting channel in wood

Another factor to keep in mind when learning How to Cut a Channel in Wood with a Router is to prevent any kind of tear-out. Tear-out or tear-away might happen when you first contact the router to the wood or when you take it from the wood’s surface. Tear-out results in harsh finishes that aren’t particularly pleasing. As a result, it is vital to prevent it. Place a scrap piece of wood at each end of the wood you’re working on to prevent tear-out. This will assist you in beginning and ending your channel with scrap wood rather than your primary endeavor.

5. Setting the Router Depth

how to use a router to cut a groove

Adjust the router’s depth to the depth you would like the channel to be. On the side of the router or on the guard, look for the depth adjustment dial. Place the router on a scrap piece of wood so that the router bit slightly hangs over the edge. To get the bit to the depth you want, turn the adjustment dial up or down.

6. Wood Routing

Now you’re done, setting up the gear. Now, all you must do is the wood route.

How to Safely Route Channel in Wood

routing channels in wood

When operating a router, the most important factor has always been safety. It is because a router uses an unprotected, spinning, high-speed blade to cut wood. Hence, you should keep woodworking safety precautions in mind.

  • Always keep the motion of the router left to right motion to keep it smooth
  • Make sure to keep the fence down while working to avoid damage
  • Check and make sure that the plunge lock is removed after you are completed
  • Clean your woodworking router once you are finished
  • Always wear the safety protective gear


Our guide makes cutting channels in wood easier. Hence, you can use any sort of wood router if you follow these instructions. After some practice, you’ll be able to take on more challenging projects. It’s critical to know how to cut a channel in wood with a router because it’ll help you obtain some of the best outcomes. That is why you must keep all the instructions in mind. Even yet, if you own any power tool, particularly a router, you should be aware of how careful you must be with them. Power tools can be extremely hazardous at any time. You can also cut a channel in wood without a router, but that’s an entirely different process and for some other day. Remember, even if routing channels is a basic project, it should be handled carefully, and the proper procedure should be followed. We hope you cut your channel precisely!

Happy Routing!

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