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Author Topic: Cutting a square hole in a board  (Read 11224 times)

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Offline Osric

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Cutting a square hole in a board
« on: September 09, 2007, 11:00:37 AM »
OK...I know this should be easy, but I just can't seem to do it.  I'm trying to make a poker table and need to cut a square hole in the boards so that I can insert a chip rack.  The chip rack is removable, so the hole needs to look nice.  Problem is that no matter how I cut it, it ends up looking like crap.  I've tried a jig saw and the cuts are generally wavy and not at a good 90 degree angle through the board (a new saw might help.)  I've tried using a router and making progressively deeper cuts, but that doesn't come out well either.  There has to be an easier way, right?  Something so simple I'm overlooking it...right?

Any help would be appreciated.  I have a shop full of tools and can't seem to do a simple thing.

Offline treecyclers

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Re: Cutting a square hole in a board
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2007, 12:53:05 PM »
You can make a jig that you can clamp or screw to the piece you want to cut out, then remove the waste with a spiral router bit and bushing. What you're asking about is a simple process.
The process goes like this-
Make a jig out of scrapwood that's an appropriate size to accomodate the difference between the size of the router bit and the diameter of the bushing.
Attach the jig to the table, having marked it where you want to locate the insert (chip tray).
Rout out the area, and then use a chisel to square up your corners if need be.
Superdave
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Offline fstedy

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Re: Cutting a square hole in a board
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2007, 01:44:05 PM »
Like the man said a good sharp chisel does a great job!!
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Offline Furby

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Re: Cutting a square hole in a board
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2007, 01:44:47 PM »
How does he make a square jig if he can't cut a square hole to begin with ???

I think it is all in your technique, sorry to say it but you need to practice with your tools more.
The jig saw may leave some marks, but with a new and proper type blade, it should be pretty minimal.
If you are getting a lot of waves and your cut is not at 90 but the saw is set up properly, then you are using a dull blade or one with the wrong tooth design/number of teeth.

You can clamp a straight edge along one side of your square and follow it with the saw.
Then reclamp using a square for the next side and so on.
A little sanding afterwards will help too.

Offline Haytrader

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Re: Cutting a square hole in a board
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2007, 03:28:54 PM »
Only thing I would add is a square clamped in the right place should let you do two sides with one setting. So, you will only have to move it once.
Haytrader

Offline leweee

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Re: Cutting a square hole in a board
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2007, 03:33:19 PM »
 ;D ever try one of these. ???
Mortising Attachment
 ;D or if you just have to do it by hand  ;)
Square Corner Chisel
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Offline mike_van

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Re: Cutting a square hole in a board
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2007, 07:29:15 PM »
Osric, practice, practice & then practice some more - I look at stuff I built 30 years ago, back then I was satisfied with it, but it wouldn't pass today. Seems the more you work at it, the fussier you get, a joint either fits or it doesn't.  To cut a square mortice,  for a stretcher under a table, or in a beam for tenon, lay it out first, either mark your lines with a sharp pencil or use a knife & scribe it. The line from a dull pencil is about 4 times the width of  chisel edge.  I go around the layout then with a wood chisel & mallet, the chisel has to be sharp enough to shave with, anything less than that, you may as well use a screwdriver. A sharp chisel cuts wood, doesn't crush it. Remove the waste inside the chisel lines, either drill it out  [blind mortise], or you can saw inside the lines with a sabre [jig] saw & a good sharp blade. Don't force the cut, let the blade do it's thing, it will cut straighter. Lastly, clean off any fibers [or corners] back to the lines with  that sharp chisel.  Try a bunch of them on some scrap.  I've wished a few times for one of those hollow chisel mortiser's, but I never seem to buy one.
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Offline low_48

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Re: Cutting a square hole in a board
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2007, 09:36:05 PM »
The easiest way to do that is to make the board slightly oversize. Then rip off two narrow strips, one from each side. Then crosscut the center piece so that it will have an opening the size of the tray when the four pieces are glued back together. If you mark all the cuts and are really careful with the glueup, the seams will be almost invisible. You will have a perfectly square opening with almost no sanding needed, no fixtures, and no chisel work.

Good luck.

Offline DanG

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Re: Cutting a square hole in a board
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2007, 10:22:50 PM »
Osric, I feel your pain.  I am unschooled in woodworking techniques, so I have to invent a way to accomplish things that some people seem to do as second nature.  I glean what tricks I can from here and other sources.  One Saturday morning not long ago, I was having my coffee and watching This Old House on the tube when ol' Tom Silva came up with a tip that just might help you out.  His idea was for a Skil saw, but it would work for a router as well.  What he did was take a strip of plywood about a foot wide and fasten another strip with a good, straight edge on top of it.  Then he just ran his saw along the top strip, which left the bottom one exactly the width of his saw table.  Then all he had to do was butt that new edge up to a line he wanted to cut, and saw away with a built-in fence at exactly the right position.  You could easily do the same with your router, and just use the base for the guide. ;)
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Offline IMERC

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Re: Cutting a square hole in a board
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2007, 12:19:12 AM »
a corner chisel would help out also...
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Offline metalspinner

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Re: Cutting a square hole in a board
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2007, 05:53:05 PM »
Quote
Then rip off two narrow strips, one from each side. Then crosscut the center piece so that it will have an opening the size of the tray when the four pieces are glued back together. If you mark all the cuts and are really careful with the glueup, the seams will be almost invisible.

This is the way I make router templates for square openings.  I use plywood pieces and glue up around the empty space.  Then clamp the template to the spot on the project and follow with the router.  A little touchup in the corner with a chisel will make it just right.  Check your chip tray...it might have a radius on it to match up with a router bit.
I do what the little voices in my wife's head tell me to do.


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