Tips for Making Precision Rabbet Cuts

Tips for Making Precision Rabbet Cuts

Certain types of woodwork projects will require you to make rabbet cuts. Rabbets are recess cuts which are shaped like steps and are normally made at along face or edge of a workpiece. It can be made for a number of reasons. There are a number of ways through which these types of cuts can be made. It is important that you learn each of these ways and when to use each of them. Read on to learn about these rabbet cut making methods.

Tools for cutting rabbets

In woodworking, there are different tools that can be used to cut rabbets. It is the type and quantity of the materials being cut that will determine the type of tool to be used. The required quality of rabbet is another factor that also determines the type of tool to be used for such a cut. The tools that can be used in making such a cuts are both table-mounted and handheld routers and tablesaw. A jointer can also be used. Thus, the method to be used in making the cut is determined by the tool used.

Making rabbet cuts with a handheld router

A handheld router can be used in making rabbet cuts. If you are building something in which the end of the rabbets will be seen at the completion of the project, then you have to use a router bit because with it, there is no scoring marks. If you are making a rabbet in an opening inside a surface, there is no other tool that can do such type of rabbet other than a router. But it has to be fitted with the right rabbeting bit which should have a pilot bearing. Change the bearings anytime you want to adjust or change the cut’s width. A handheld router fitted with a rabbet bit that has pilot bearing can also be used to make rabbets along curved edges.

Table-mounted router

You can also make rabbet cuts with a table-mounted router fitted with straight bit. Using a table-mounted router has an edge over the use of handheld router bit as the rabbet made with it is flawlessly straight thanks to its fence. Besides, you can fit your router with a large straight bit in order to make 1×1 rabbets cut. The only drawback with this method is that it is difficult to make rabbet cuts on large materials.


There are two ways of making rabbet cuts with a tablesaw. What makes the difference in these two methods is the setup of the tablesaw. In the first setup, the tablesaw has to be fitted with a standard blade. This is a good option when one or two pieces are to be rabbeted. It is also a good option for woodworkers that do not have a good dado set. The cut will be made in two passes. However, the tablesaw will be fitted with the combination blade. When using this method, you should ensure that none of the cuts is cut beyond the other. The only way to achieve this is by setting the fence and the blade’s height precisely. Face the workpiece down on the tabletop and then rabbet at the correct depth. Then rabbet to the right width by standing the workpiece on the edge.

However, rabbeting the edge of a narrow material can be very challenging with this method. It will require you to hold the workpiece uprightly and steadily clamping it to a fixture as you guide it through the fence. But if you don’t want to use this method or if you have a low-powered saw, you can use another setup. Here, you will set it up with dado set. Clean rabbets are produced in one pass with this method. If you are making wide rabbets, then you will have to make two passes. The drawback to this method is that it can be very difficult to fit dado blades into the table saw.