Joinery routing guide
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Wood Magazine

Joinery routing guide

Reach for your router and this jig to cut clean, accurate dadoes, rabbets, and half-laps.

Start with a plywood base

Start with a plywood base

To make this jig, cut a 3/4x8x18" plywood base, shown in the drawing. Then cut the remaining jig parts from a 2x48" blank that's a hair thicker than your workpieces. Drill countersunk pilot holes and screw the 18"-long fence to the base with the edges and ends flush. Place a workpiece against that fence and butt the edge of the 13"-long fence against the workpiece. Drill and screw the 13" fence in place.

Quick Tip: Add shims for clearance. If you don't have a planer to size the fences thicker than your project parts, raise the fences by inserting kraft-paper shims to provide clearance. Now drill and screw one router guide 90° to the two fences and flush with the end of the 13" fence. Then place a scrap the width and thickness of your workpiece in the jig under the router guide and clamp it in place.


Positioning the guides
Jig laying on table with router by it
Enlarge Image
Hold a workpiece against the edge of
the first dado pass and score the jig
Then measure to position the other

Positioning the guides

Note: Before making the first routing pass, consult your router owner's manual and center the router baseplate around the collet. Or make a mark on top of the router base and hold that mark against the jig guide when making each pass. That way, the bit travels the same distance from the guides as you rout.

Chuck a 1/2" straight bit in your router set to cut the rabbet or dado depth. Hold the router base against the guide and cut the first pass across both fences and the test scrap.

To position the second guide, hold your mating workpiece (or a scrap the same thickness) against the edge of the dado, as shown in photo. Use a craft knife to score its thickness on the edge of the fence. Then measure from the edge of the guide to the nearest edge of the dado. Measure that distance from your score mark to a point along the fence. Drill and screw the second guide there, 90° to the fences.

Now rout a second pass holding the router against the second guide and check the fit of the dado using the mating piece from your project. Adjust the second guide if necessary.


Two cuts rout a rabbit

Two cuts rout a rabbit

Put your new jig to work

For routing dadoes, rabbets, and half-laps, mark a joint edge and waste area on your workpiece, as shown in the photo, and set your bit depth. For dadoes, align the workpiece mark with the fence dadoes, clamp the workpiece in position, and rout one pass against each guide.


Rout rabbets, dadoes, and half laps with ease
Router on jig upright position
Enlarge Image
Press the router base against one
guide to rabbet a straight line.
Repeat against the other guide to
complete the rabbet.

Rout rabbets, dadoes, and half laps with ease

Quick Tip: Reset your routing depth quickly. To repeat a router bit depth setup, place the router on one of the jig fences and lower the bit until it just touches the bottom of the fence dado.

For rabbets the same width as your dadoes, place the end of the workpiece just over the fence dado, as shown in the photo, and rout against both guides. To make half-laps, unclamp the workpiece after each pair of passes and slide it along the jig. Repeat until you rout the full width of the half-lap.

If you like this project, please check out more than 1,000 shop-proven paper and downloadable woodworking project plans in the WOOD Store.



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