How to Groove Wood With a Drill

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Use a spiral cut bit to groove wood.
Use a spiral cut bit to groove wood. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Make simple grooves in wood with an ordinary drill and bit. This procedure is sometimes done when a woodworker needs to make a small jig, or a channel for a guide. It can also be used to make a groove inside a cabinet or tight workspace where routers do not fit. Groove thickness is determined by what drill bit you use. For example; to cut a groove 1/2-inch wide, use a 1/2-inch standard drill bit.

Things You'll Need

  • 1/2-inch spiral cut bit, 6-inches long
  • Cordless drill
  • Scrap plywood
  • 1/2-inch spiral cut bit, 4-inches long (optional)
  • Wood block, 2-by-2-by-3 3/4 inches

Insert the 1/2-inch bit into the drill and tighten it. Place the tip of the drill on a piece of plywood at the point where you wish to start a groove. The groove must start no more than 6 inches from the edge of the wood.

Pull the trigger to turn on the drill. Push on the drill with only a small amount of pressure to drill only a small divot into the wood. Keep the drill running.

Tilt the drill down slowly as you keep it running. Tilt it all the way down flat, so the side of the bit spins against the plywood.

Add horizontal pressure to the bit as it lies flat on the wood. The spiral cuts on the side of the drill cut into the wood, transferring the shape and diameter of the drill bit into the wood, and creating a groove 6 inches long.

Hold the bit against the wood, allowing it to cut down into the wood for a groove as deep as you want.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can also freehand grooves. Install a 4-inch long bit into the drill. Drill through a block of wood 3 3/4-inch thick. This leaves 1/4-inch of the drill bit extending from the block. Drill straight down into the wood until the block bottoms out, then pull the drill along, keeping it vertical as the end of the bit cuts a groove in the wood.
  • Wear safety glasses.
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