Stepped Depth Cutting Jig for the Router Table

With this jig you can make your router table behave like a plunge router.

Having the ability to easily make multiple shallow cuts on the router table will improve the quality of your work with smoother, cleaner cuts and will extend the life of your router and router bits.

In the video below see how to make and use a jig that allows you to make a series of shallow, increasing depths of cut on the router table without readjusting the router bit depth.

Benefits of Multiple Shallow Cuts

Making a single deep pass, especially in hardwoods can cause burning, tear out and sometimes splintering. It can also overload the router. Multiple shallow passes results in a smoother cut. This is the reason behind the stepped turret on plunge routers which allows a series of 1/8″ deep passes to accomplish what would otherwise be done in a single deep cut.

Don’t Readjust the Bit Height

A plunge router avoids the need to readjust the bit height with each pass as would have to be done with a standard router. The problem with readjusting the bit depth for each pass is that when the router motor is turned to adjust the height, the router motor changes orientation in the router base and the bit doesn’t always stay the same position laterally, or side-to-side. this causes ridges on the cut face.

With the stepped cut jig the bit height doesn’t have to be adjusted each time and thus avoids the out of alignment bit.

Using the Jig

Since discovering this technique I use this jig on most cuts I make on the router table. I find making relatively shallow cuts in hardwood I get much smoother cuts using multiple shallow passes. It also is less taxing on the router motor and extends the bit life by avoiding overheating.

Do you think this technique would improve the quality of your cuts?
Do you plan on trying this technique yourself?

I would like to hear your thoughts abut this technique.

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2 thoughts on “Stepped Depth Cutting Jig for the Router Table

  1. Sir,

    Thank you for demonstrating the stepped depth cutting jig.

    I am about to cut rails and stiles for a cope and stick frame assembly. These will be made from hard maple, and burning is a concern. I would prefer to keep the overall cuts to 1/8″ as you have here,, and with the final two passes around 1/64″, but with the steps horizontal against the fence rather than on the table itself. I do have an Incra router table jig, but think that your method would likely give more repeatable results than adjusting the Incra fence.

    Can you think of any reasons why this modification of your technique would be a bad idea? Or do you have any other tips to add to this?

    Much appreciation for your consideration,

    • Michael –

      I have used hardboard clamped to the primary fence as an auxiliary fence in the same manner as in the video, but I’m not sure what you are suggesting, so you would need to decide if it is safe for you to try. In general it seems multiple shallow cuts would be safer than one deep cut

      Thanks for your comment,


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