Woodworking Tips
Woodworking Tips Index
Flush Trimming with a Router

I generally cut my dovetails to stand a hair proud of the workpieces. To get them flush after assembly, I used to work with a chisel or belt sander. Using a chisel was pretty slow work. And with a belt sander, it was too easy to round the corners or gouge the faces of the workpieces.

Now, I use a hand-held router and a straight bit with an auxiliary base. (The problem with the regular base is that it runs into the pins or tails before the bit can get near enough to trim them flush.) This auxiliary base "raises" the router up so it doesn't hit the dovetails, see upper drawing at right.

The auxiliary base is simply a 3/4"-thick piece of stock with a wide rabbet cut on the bottom, as you can see in the center drawing. The rabbet provides clearance so the bit can reach the pins and tails. To make the base more stable, I cut it extra long. (Mine was 11".) And for added control, there's a block at one end for a handle.

To use the jig, set it on the workpiece and lower the bit until it just touches the face of the piece. Then turn on the router and trim the dovetails flush. To reduce the chance of chipout, I backrout, moving the router from right to left and nibbling away at them from the outside edge towards the center of the workpiece, as shown in the lower drawing.

By the way, this jig isn't just for dovetails. It will also work great for trimming box joints or wood plugs.

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