Control Recess Rout


Active member
Hi everybody,


First post here. I'm assembling a  PRS-style kit my daughter bought for my granddaughter. I want to recess the controls as I've seen on some of your beautiful Warmoth bodies. I think they use a CNC machine to do theirs. I was wondering if any other DIY builders would know what router bit to use. I thought about an OG bit, but they're not quite the profile that's needed to perform this job. I have a plunge router, and can set it up to be pretty accurate when I plunge. Or, maybe some sort of sanding rig on my drill press?

Any ideas? Links?


probably not enough wood there to recess the controll knob. Warmoth and PRS rout them out in 3d so where the recesses go there will be enough wood to keep the front of the guitar from cracking and breaking at the pots.

Thanks for your reply.

I have a set of dial calipers, so I'll be able to measure to see if it's possible, and make that judgment myself. I was just asking for ideas of a way to do it DIY-style, in lieu of of a CNC rig, which I don't have. I ran across a site by a guy that did it freehand with a small die cutter w/a 50 grit disk attached. His looked pretty good, but not as "factory" as I'd like (more of a blended look). So, I know it can be done, but I'd like to have a little more control than winging it freehand.

Anybody else?


Google luthier Scott French. He did a tutorial on utilizing a router and several stages of routing templates to pre-carve a contoured top so that the hand work was minimized. IIRC he also recessed the control mounting face areas so that the pot could be mounted correctly and the knobs have a uniform reveal

all the best,

Thanks for the tip, man.

I did a search on that guy as you said, but couldn't find the routing tutorial. While I was looking at his site, it dawned on me to google for Guitar Top Carving. I came upon a site from Jeff Miller (from 2005), which was really great, and he just used a Forstner bit in a drill press. It looked pretty good. He used Tele-type controls, so the edges weren't rolled as much as I'd like. I'll have to figure that one out myself, I guess. Maybe sandpaper wrapped around a Tylenol bottle or something to that effect.

Happy building,

Drill press and a cove bit

Thanks for your suggestions.

  A cove bit doesn't do the entire profile, it just rounds the bottom edge of  the cutout. I had already been to that site and didn't see anything that would really work.


When I googled the same phrase"scott french rout" it came up with "Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at Maryland" pertaining to a french horn player. I did go to the link you posted, but nothing on control recess routing. Thanks anyway.

To be honest, the best site I found pertaining to 'scratch builds' was the Jeff Miller site I posted above, but he doesn't say how he smooths out the recess, just that he used a Forstener bit to do the initial cut.

Oh well, I'll just keep looking.


On page 2 of the talkbass link Scott French gives a few options for control rout recessing inc. use a gouge or forstner bit.
bpmorton777 said:
the cove bit thing should work. it worked for Rose


Completely unrelated, but does anyone else find the backside of that guitar to be absolutely hideous?
He should have done it all black.
Well, still haven't struck gold yet.

djf67:  looked at the second page, not much info. A gouge would be ridiculous to try to finesse a nice "factory-looking" cut, and the idea of not having the nut fully contact the body, is a little weak, if you ask me.

Brian:  the Exit 45 link did give me an idea as to how to ease the edges of the cut by using a scoth pad dremel attacment. That guy put a lot of work in for questionable results. accounting for taste-each to his own.javascript:void(0);

I'm working with a veneered top, so there's not much 'fudge' room. That's why I need to do the whole profile of the countersink in one shot. There is an OGee bit that would do it, but I'm not shelling out buckets of cash for a one time deal. I love my granddaughter, but there are limits in this screwy economy.

Thanks guys,

GitDiv said:
djf67:  looked at the second page, not much info. A gouge would be ridiculous to try to finesse a nice "factory-looking" cut, and the idea of not having the nut fully contact the body, is a little weak, if you ask me.

I was just pointing out the originally cited info was there - didn't say it was any good ;)
coving bit and midirose's dremel sanding idea seems to be the best way to go, IMO.
Yup, the scotch-pad idea looks pretty good....don't need the cove bit, that area will be covered by the control anyhow. Forstner, which I own a set of , would be my bit of choice. Also, if there is not enough 'meat' there, I can always glue a piece of mahogany to the inside of the cavity.

I guess it's time to get to it, and stop yapping.

Thanks guys,

Just a little heads-up for anybody that's interested, I found a bit called a "wavy edge" router bit that I think I can spring for at $22.00 .
Wasn't even looking for it, just stumbled across it, somehow. May have to remove the guide bearing for this job.
Not a bad price. It should do the whole profile, including the outer edge round-over in one shot.javascript:void(0);