Perfect Tongue-And-Groove Fits

Project plans often call for rabbeting the edges of a panel in order to create a tongue that slips into a drawer or rail groove. This is often done with a router bit or tablesaw dado head, with the work fed flat on the table. Unfortunately, done this way, any inaccuracy in the thickness of the stock is transferred to the thickness of the tongue, creating an ill fit in the groove.

One way to ensure a perfect tongue-and-groove fit is to create the rabbet by making two intersecting cuts on the tablesaw, feeding the edge to be rabbeted against the fence. Set up the first cut to rip the tongue to thickness, feeding the panel on edge with the tongue face against the fence. Use a featherboard to ensure consistency of cut. Now set up to make the intersecting cut against a thick auxiliary fence, raising it enough to create a tunnel for the freed offcut to fall away without being pinched between the blade and fence, eliminating violent ejection of the piece.

—Harvey Mickelson, Reno, Nevada

Back to blog Back to issue