One Rabbeting Bit to rule them all?

September 8, 20152 Comments

When it comes to plowing out material for a rabbet joint I almost always do the job on my table saw using a stacked dado head cutter. Why? Not sure really, force of habit I’m guessing?

Tablesaw rabbet

Actually, it’s probably more to do with a greater sense of safety I have at the table saw than with a router.

Plus in addition to feeling safer, I also like the ease of adjustability I have to widen and narrow the rabbet by either adding additional cutters (when possible) or burying part of them in a sacrificial fence attached to the rip fence.

The addition of a sacrificial fence works great for two reasons; 1) I can microadjust for an exact width, and 2) it helps to control tearout on the remaining edge.

But does this mean I NEVER use a rabbeting bit in a router?

Nope, on the contrary I still use one, I’m just very selective about when and why. In fact the most common reason I prefer the router over the table saw is when it comes to cutting stopped rabbets (which are not what’s being cut in the video above.)

I can create them on both tools, but there’s far less clean up when I’m using the bit versus the blade.

Recently while working on the frame and panel doors for the upcoming 2nd part of the simple cabinet construction series, I had to cut some rabbets on the door panels.

Since I already had the router table setup for the rail and stile bits I was using, I figured I’d just drop in the rabbeting bit and give it another go.

The only obstacle I ran into was the fact the bearing at the top of the bit was a little to large and would end up creating a rabbet that was too narrow.

But before I gave up and turned back to the tablesaw, I remembered the rabbet bit I was using was part of a monster 8-piece set.

8-piece Whiteside Rabbeting Set

8-piece Whiteside Rabbeting Set available at Woodcraft

Not 8 different rabbeting bits, instead it was one bit with 8 optional bearings.

Within a matter of minutes I swapped out the bearing for a narrower version, double checked the dimension and then loaded it back into the router. The result was the exact sized rabbet I needed and a renewed interest in maybe rabbeting with my router more frequently.

There’s always other ways to cut rabbets with a router if you don’t have a monster 8-piece set like this one from Whiteside. The most frequent option is to chuck up a straight cutting bit and adjust a router fence for just the right width.

And of course for those of you who are hand tool lovers, there are some great hand planes and even chisel techniques to get the job done also.

The beauty of woodworking is in the fact we ALWAYS have options. What’s your preferred method?

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  1. Bob DV says:

    I just got that set a few months ago (after mistakenly buying the big brother version). I love it. Last week I ran a dozen plus boards through it for some ship lap backing on a bench. Each mated just perfectly after a minor adjustment or two.

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