For the hardworking woodworker, tongue and groove joints are a staple part of the trade.
The question is, which saw is best for making these?
Well, the community is divided into those who would say a table saw from those who would say a router is best for it.
In this article we will discuss the question of Tongue and Groove Table Saw vs Router, What is the Best Table Saw for Tongue and Groove joints; whether it’s the table saw vs the router. We will also cover in-depth how to make a tongue and groove on a table saw.
Tongue and Groove Table Saw vs Router
Table Saw vs Router for Tongue and Groove Joints
To start the Tongue and Groove Table Saw vs Router question, let’s get straight to the point.
The main difference between the two is that the table saw basically feeds itself through a set of blades that make either a rip cut or cross cut depending on which blade you use.
Whereas the router’s bits are fed directly by you, the operator of the tool — you do have a feed setting but if you always use it then your cuts will be extremely inconsistent.
So the table saw wins, except for those times when you must make perfectly even cuts that are of equal width — which is where the router comes in.
Without a doubt a table saw is best for making tongue and groove joints.
However, if you must make near-perfect cuts, then a router is for you. This is especially true when making wide boards that are not too thick or heavy in weight. A table saw will most likely bind up and get stuck halfway through or worse yet kick out the board while trying to cut it.
With a simple router table you can make perfect cuts every time with no issues. Obviously, there are some limitations as well, since most routers are not meant to cut that much through a board.
In short, the more experienced your woodworking skills are, the less you will need the router for tongue and groove joints. If you are just getting started in woodworking then we highly recommend that you start with our table saw buying guide for making these types of projects.
Tongue And Groove Table Saw Vs Router:
How to make Tongue and Groove
on a Table Saw
In this article, we will cover in-depth how to make a tongue and groove joint with a table saw.
1. Find a board that is approximately the same width and thickness as the piece you are going to joint together.
2. Arranging the board in the middle, place a square under the blade on one end and hold it stationary while adjusting the fence with your hand so that your bit will just barely fit into the grove created by the fence.
3. Adjust your saw’s height adjustment wheel until your saw is perfectly level, then lower it into position.
4. Now that your saw is level, line the fence with the middle of the board and raise the blade up to just barely slice through the board.
5. Lower your saw’s height adjustment as far as it will go and make a cut through the board.
6. If you would like to make an even bottom groove, then repeat steps 3-5 one more time.
7. Once all grooves are made, flip over your board and repeat steps 3–5 on the top side of the board.
8. Now you’ll need to cut the ends of the board so that they fit together. For this, place one end of your board on your table saw’s rip fence and cut it at a 45-degree angle. Once the angle is made, flip your piece over and make another cut at the same angle on the opposite side.
9. Place both pieces against one another to double-check that they’ll match up perfectly when they’re butt-joined. If they are perfect, then go ahead and make a joint.
10. Place the two pieces together and drill a series of evenly spaced holes through both boards. We usually do about 8 holes each.
11. Cutting your dowel to the correct length is important. If it’s too long, your joint will not be flush; if it’s too short, then you won’t be able to make a good joint at all.
12. Once you’ve cut the dowel to size, use a knife or chisel and cut the edges so that they’re straight. This step is optional though — some woodworkers prefer letting nature take its course for this step, while others like cutting it themselves. Here we cut them ourselves as we want our joints flush and tight.
13. Use a drill bit slightly larger than the dowel to make a hole for the dowel in the board’s side.
14. Place one end of your dowel on the table saw’s fence and insert it into the hole you made in step 13. Adjust your table saw so that it is at 45-degrees and make another cut through the board. Repeat this step until you are happy with how deep you have created your groove.
15. The next step is to plane down any created pits or ridges in order to ensure that all grooves are equal widths or slightly deeper than each other. Make sure that you don’t plane it too far down, otherwise your joint will be very weak.
16. Now that the grooves are exactly the right size, it is time to place your two boards together.
17. Start by making a simple butt joint with your two pieces. Make sure that everything is flush, then use clamps to join together and hold them in place for about 3 hours.
18. Use a chisel and hammer to knock off most of the excess glue from the joints. This is an important step as you don’t want too much glue left on your wood, otherwise it will become hardened and will be very difficult to sand down later on down the road. You can see here in this picture how much we’ve removed from both sides of our joint.
19. Now it’s time to sand the boards down in order to remove any excess glue and to make sure that they’re as flush as possible.
20. Once you’ve achieved a perfect fit, use a plane or sandpaper to grade your joint and ensure that it is absolutely perfectly flush. This will leave you with a beautiful finished product! Perfect!
Tongue And Groove
Table Saw VS Router Joint Comparison:
Tongue and Groove Joint vS Miter Joint
The following is a comparison of the tongue and groove joints and the miter joint:
Miter Joints are typically used in framing because you need to be able to make a cut at 45-degrees. These are usually seen in anything that has exterior siding, like a shed or barn building. The drawback of this type of butt joint is the visibility of one side’s cut. This can be fixed by creating panels, which can then be placed on either side with one panel overlapping the other. Another problem with miter joints is that they have visible gaps that can show up from shrinkage or lateral movement over time.
Lastly, with miter joints, it’s always a debate whether a table saw vs miter saw can do the job better.
Tongue and Groove Joints can be used for most woodworking. They are typically used for plywood because they are much stronger than Miter joints and can be cut with a simple saw.
It is important to know that the tongue and groove joint can’t be cut with your circular saw because the cutting blade is too narrow. The tongue and groove joint must be cut with a handsaw, which is why you will see this joint called ‘a handsaw joint’.
Tongue and Groove Joint vS Dado Joint
A tongue-and-groove joint is a type of carpentry joint that connects two pieces of wood together along an edge. The groove typically runs along the edge of one board, and the tongue fits into it.
A dado joint is a type of woodworking joint that is used to attach two boards at right angles. It is the term for the joint itself, as well as for the corresponding tool used to make it. The dado joint can be cut by hand with a chisel, or with a power tool such as a table saw, router or shaper.
Tongue and Groove Joint vS Dovetail Joint
The tongue and groove joint is designed to join two boards together along the edges. This is a very strong way to join wood pieces.
The dovetail joint is also designed to join two pieces of wood, but it does so at right angles. It is usually used for drawers and other box-shaped structures, since the bottom end of one piece fits into a slot that runs in the other piece.
Tongue and Groove Table Saw vs Router
This ends our Comparison Guide of Table Saw vs Router for Tongue and Groove Joints.
We hope the knowledge you gained here will help you in the future with your DIY or Professional Woodworking projects. We want you to be sure of that what you get from us are 100% facts, so please don’t hesitate to ask for advice or to advise us in return with accurate facts.
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Henry is a long time Trade Instructor at Dunwoody College of Technology. Henry has been teaching the trade of carpentry for over 15 years and is excited to share his knowledge with the next generation of builders. With his posts you will explore some general terms, tools, and techniques that are helpful for the beginning DIY Enthusiast!. He’ll also provide a list of all the best tips needed to start your building journey right away!