tldr: can I use a plunge router horizontally (for example, routing a recess on a wall stud).

I am planning a project using low profile architectural panel clips (Sugatsune VL-03, if it matters). I am planning on screwing them to the studs in my wall, and then attaching a panel to them.

The panel clips' documentation has a suggestion for a recessed installation, but I'd like the panel to be as "tight" against the wall as possible. The suggestion appears to leave a 1/8" gap between the panel and the wall/stud/substrate, basically because of a small lip on the substrate side of the panel clip.

I am planning to mess around and test whether I can get the gap to go away by making a small recess (with scrap wood). But, ultimately, for that plan to work, I'd have to be using a plunge router on the 2" side of a 2x4 or 2x6 or 2x8 etc. Is that an accepted safe use of a plunge router?

If not, any other ideas for making a recess on a wall stud about 1.125 - 1.25 inches in diameter?

  • 2
    How much experience do you have with a plunge router? If only a little bit or first time using it probably not as safe. Your control will be less than in the usual position. If you have the experience and know how it acts, then should be okay. Safety glasses a must since the dust and chips be right at your eyes.
    – crip659
    Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 17:08
  • 2
    We can not tell you is it safe, that depends on you experience and skills
    – Traveler
    Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 17:31
  • 1
    Most tools that can remove skin/body parts don't really care what position they do it in. If you can keep perfect control of the tool, is what matters.
    – crip659
    Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 19:13
  • Note that you can lock the plunge and use it as an overly-complicated fixed base, if you don't have a fixed base as well. That might be one less thing to get distracted by.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 19:40
  • @isherwood: disagree. It is objectively unsafe to use a table saw without guards. I, as someone who has not used a router in this way, am asking if I am committing the same kind of blunder. And, if so, for alternatives.
    – nomen
    Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 21:31

4 Answers 4


Hold the router firmly. A router will take off on you if not held firmly, and the bigger the bit or the deeper the cut the harder it will want to take off. Multiple passes on depth or width are safer than going for full width full depth in one pass.

For cuts on the thin side of wood, a suitably-placed-and-sized L platform attached to the face of the stock being cut can provide a platform to rest the router plate on while cutting on the edge. Two L platforms, one on each side, can turn the thin edge into a "table" on which to route, which removes the rocking action that could happen when routing on thin edges.


If you have control of the tool it's safe, if you do not it's unsafe.

Routers can be hard to control, but by the time you've clamped the template on for your circular hole, it's not going to run away on you. I wouldn't recommend routing a narrow vertical surface freehand.

However I won't do that.

You want small-ish circular holes. I'd use a 30mm spade bit in a variable speed electric drill.

If stopping at a precise depth is important I'd cut a piece of 40mm (or 50mm) PVC DVW pipe to the apropriate length to separate the drill from the stud. (fine depth adjustment can be done by moving the bit into or out of the drill chuck)

Cut some windows in the side of the pipe so you can easily see where you're aiming with the point, and to let the wood chips out.


I don't think a router is the right tool for this job as I understand it. I would use a drill with a Forstner bit. A very safe and easy way to make a blind hole 1.125 to 1.25 inch diameter.


I have different shoes for my plunge router and some are designed for horizontal use.

Using it horizontally the chips won’t be trying to fall back in the slot so I would say absolutely it’s fine to use horizontally.

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