How to Groove Deck Boards for Better Traction

The Tiger Claw sys­tem, which fea­tures the Tiger Claw TC‑G clips for man­u­fac­tured boards and the Tiger Claw TC-120 clips for hard­wood, is an effec­tive way to secure deck boards with­out leav­ing vis­i­ble fas­ten­ers on the top the deck. These inno­v­a­tive clips firm­ly hold the deck­ing in place, but a groove on the side of the board is required. You can order grooved deck­ing in a vari­ety of col­ors and designs, but what if your deck­ing doesn’t have a groove?

TC G installed 2020 copy

It is pos­si­ble to use straight-edge deck­ing with the Tiger Claw TC‑G sys­tem, but it requires a builder to man­u­al­ly groove the boards before instal­la­tion. For­tu­nate­ly, the process is easy and can be accom­plished with a wide vari­ety of tools. 

Getting in the Groove: How to Groove Deck Boards

Cut­ting a groove in a square-edged deck board can be done quick­ly. There are three dif­fer­ent options you can use to com­plete the process: 

  • Tiger Claw Slot Cut­ter fixed to a router

  • Slot-cut­ting router bit that cuts a groove of 5÷32”

  • Bis­cuit or plate jointer 

Tiger Claw Slot Cutters: Cut Grooves to Square Edge Decking

Using one of these tools, you can cre­ate grooves in a straight­edge board that will allow you to use Tiger Claw clips for a fas­ten­er-free look. 

Remember Your Safety

Before get­ting start­ed, it’s impor­tant to review a few essen­tial safe­ty pre­cau­tions:

  • Remem­ber to unplug the router before adjust­ing the bit. 

  • Using a router can be loud, and dust and debris can fly through the air. Always use ear plugs, a dust mask, and eye pro­tec­tion when groov­ing the boards. 

  • While using the router, keep two hands and a firm grip on the tool.

  • Always cut from left to right. This is the direc­tion that moves with the tool, not against it. 

Grooving a Straightedge Board: The Process

With the router unplugged, install the router bit and adjust it so it sits at the cor­rect height. This is absolute­ly crit­i­cal, so take your time with the adjust­ments. Place the board on its edge so the side you want to groove is fac­ing up. Using a tape mea­sure, mark 13÷32” with a pen­cil. Next, take the router and hold it against the top of the board; adjust the router so the bit is sit­ting right at the marked depth. 

Place the board flat on a sur­face and make the first cut. Turn the board so it is right side up and place a clip into the groove. (The prongs will go into the groove.) The clip should fit tight­ly and the body should sit firm­ly against the deck board, while the screw flange will bare­ly touch the joist surface. 

Once the router is set cor­rect­ly, you can groove all of the deck boards. You can either groove the entire deck board from end to end, or you can place the board where it will be installed and make small grooves above each joist. If cut­ting small grooves for each joist, it may be more effi­cient to place two boards on the deck, then router two at a time. This is demon­strat­ed in our short video. (Go to 2:30 for the two-board demonstration.) 

The Hidden Fasteners You Need for a World-Class Deck

Fas­ten­Mas­ter is proud to offer a large selec­tion of top-qual­i­ty fas­ten­ers for deck­ing, new con­struc­tion, and remod­el­ing. The Tiger Claw sys­tem, as well as the Cor­tex Deck­ing Hid­den Fas­ten­ers is every­thing you need for a deck that is com­plete­ly free of vis­i­ble screws and nails!