Fixing a Sloppy Groove for Plywood


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I am trying to make a puzzle tray as a gift (see link below). The construction involves putting panels of 1/4 inch plywood into grooves to support the housing. To cut the grooves, I used a flat-top rip blade and then progressively knocked the fence over by tapping it to widen the groove. Unfortunately, my last tap was apparently too far, and  I ended up with a groove that is not tight to the panel. I am making the tray out of walnut ply and walnut hardwood, neither of which are cheap right now, and I was hoping there  might be a way to salvage the piece with the wide grooves. Fortunately, I was able to catch the mistake before cutting the second rail, and that fits nicely. For what it's worth, the plywood core appears to be MDF, and the panels will be glued in place. 

Have any of you dealt with this issue before? If so, any tricks on how to fix it? If there is a quick way to add a very small amount of thickness to the end of the plywood, that should solve the issue. For loose joints before I packed the joint with shavings to tighten things up, but I don't think that will be an option here. The plywood is pretty delicate, and I would assume that if the fix for the loose joint causes  a big mess, cleanup might destroy the panel.


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From what I gather, the underside of this tray will not be seen? Since the other three rails are good and snug, I would do the glue up with a wedge or two on the underside of the loose one to bring the surface up smooth until the glue dries, then remove the wedges. 

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To the first reply, no, the underside of the tray would not be seen. I have attached a picture of the loose rail. There is a significant amount of side to side play. That said, as you can see in the picture, the gap is still quite small. I might be better off just cutting this again and using the loose20211110_113118.thumb.jpg.cff4c3c878ee1779b51d074d914e78ae.jpg piece as my test piece for the rest of the setups. I just hate wasting wood. 

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On 11/10/2021 at 12:22 PM, wtnhighlander said:

You might also cut a filler strip of hardwood. glue it into the groove, then re-cut the groove. Just take care to align the new groove to the proper location on the visible side, so the remaining filler is hidden.

This would be my suggestion also.  

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Thanks. I just so happen to have some offcuts that would be long to fill the existing groove. The groove is 1/4 inch wide by 1/4 inch deep, and my plan was to cut the scraps down to something like 1/4 wide by 3/8 tall. Then, glue the scraps in and run it through the planer to even the strips with the rest of the board (with the groove side facing the knives). In essence, I would be planing 1/4 inch thick stock using a large holder that happens to be the workpiece. I haven't tried something like this before. Anyone see a potential drawback? I am planning on taking very light passes.

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