Sequenced Routing


Sequenced Routing
‘AB’ explains how to get from ‘A to B’ when you are routing components that must fit together

‘AB’ explains how to get from ‘A to B’ when you are routing components that must fit together

Assuming you have mastered the basics of static table routing, inevitably you will want to make up components that fit together. A good example, which you can apply to other tasks, is to make a frame and panel door. I learned early on the importance of getting the sequence right so that I could avoid mistakes. 

Do an accurate drawing, or at least a set of measurements, from which you can derive an accurate cutting list. It needs to take into account the sizes of joints, etc. the length of tenon, for example. Use a calculator to check that everything adds up correctly. In the example, the frame and panel cutter needs 2 x 9.5mm = 19mm added to the rail length to account for the joint connection

Whatever the job, you need to choose the correct cutters. Clockwise top (L–R) and bottom (R–L) a large profile and scribe; smaller profile and scribe; horizontal panel raiser; vertical panel raiser. Don’t attempt to proceed unless you know whether the cutters will produce the result you want

Use properly prepared stock, for example the whole job can fall down badly if material thickness is variable. Buy prepared timber which is the same thickness or use a planer/thicknesser to get consistent results. Where components have set lengths, such as rails, cut them accurately square and to length, a chopsaw is good for this. Some components can be left overlength to trim later if you don’t need to do so at this stage

Make sure your router table is properly equipped to do repeat machining. Scribing of ends should be done first as
a rule because the stock is still square in section and it is easier therefore to have a backing piece to prevent breakout. Put a pencil cross and joint marks on each component after laying out all the pieces so you know where each piece belongs and whether some need to be machined upside down as in the case of profile and scribe frame joints

Always have some spare pieces for test cuts. Often, the waste offcuts can be long enough to experiment with. You do not want to be changing router depth and height settings during machining proper as the job won’t go together properly

Once the scribing cuts are done, then you can change cutter and fence settings as required in case for making long-grain profile cuts. All the time you need to keep components in the correct orientation, which is where pencil markings are essential. The cutter height is adjusted to bring the profile cut in line with the scribe cut

Here a profile cut is being made, note the ‘X’ marked on the top face which is actually the back side of the frame. It is on one edge where the machining must be made, if the other needed machining there would be a second ‘X’

Two test pieces fitted together show the joint is good, the faces are level and the joint connects tightly. Now the actual profile cuts can be made

One of the final cut joints, the extra length of the stiles known as ‘horns’, can be cut off once the frame has been glued and has dried. The panel in the middle can be flat veneered MDF or ply or a machined raised and fielded panel in the same timber

Have the confidence to do all components in sequence. If you have a set of doors to make, do all scribing cuts, then all profile cuts. If you keep swapping back and forth between the two you risk mistakes and changed settings. Sequencing your routing is the most efficient, accurate and safest way of working!


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