Saw rabbeting

Rabbeting without a rabbet plane – rebate UK

Someone wrote me and asked me if there was a way he could run a rebate to stock without a machine and special planes. There is a way I use quite often that works fine. It may take a couple of practice pieces but you soon get the hang of it. I will probably complicate what is really dead simple and practical, but here goes.

By way of introduction

As a boy there were after-construction retrofits on projects that sometimes needed a rebate, groove or inset along the length of a board in an existing, installed section of wood or indeed on the site work at someone’s house where a rebate was needed and no fancy routers then or we couldn’t make the mess in someones living room or we just needed a quick and effective way to do it. Sometimes a piece of wood is too short for a hand held router and so we continued as we always did with a hand saw or a chisel and mallet.


We begin by securing a temporary fence to the stock piece. There are different ways to do this. If the wood is longer than needed. two nails, one at each end, is common enough. Tape wrapped at each end can work well too. I often use two drops of super glue with an accelerator. Clamps are quick and simple also.



With the fence secure, place the nose of the saw against the fence at the farthest end of the stock and take a few strokes to get depth. lower the saw stroke by stroke into the cut. Use a sharpie to mark depth on the saw and move from the toe end towards the heel gradually with each cut. Every few strokes, remove the saw and remove gullet build-up of wood fibre.


Once you are to depth, repeat to the adjacent face.

You can also superglue a second fence parallel to the first, with the saw in place to minimize slack, this minimizes slopping around if dead accuracy is essential.

Using a ripcut saw gets you there fastest and use a tooth count of fifteen or less. You can use a panel saw or a tenon saw. Both work equally well as long as not too long. No more than 22”.


  1. Paul,
    This is very interesting. Would you use the same basic technique in cutting the sidewalls of a dado? Also, do you go over your saw cuts with a chisel to smooth things out or leave them as they are from the saw?

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