General Woodworking #1: Cutting Dado's on the Table Saw

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Blog entry by RouterManiac posted 06-22-2009 11:02 PM 15651 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Cutting Dado’s on the Router or Table saw?

So your project calls for some precise dado’s to be cut. Some are Through dado’s and some are stop dado’s. Having never cut one before, which tool do you reach for?

The thought process:
Never having done this before, you will have to thing about what you need. If you use the router, you already have one (assumption). A straight bit will do the trick for the cutting portion. What about a dado jig? How will you guide the router? Do you need to buy a jig or make it? Do you have time to make one?
Once you have or make one, you need to practice using it.

Table saw:
Do you have a Dado blade? Can you afford one? What is the best brand? Is your saw big enough to hold one? (check your arbor length, a bench saw arbor are sometimes shorter) How do I cut the stop dado on the saw?

These are good questions. Its better and easier when you already know the answers. Deciding the first time is what takes all the research and time. After that when you have the tools, you can easier figure out how you want to tackle the dado proposition on your project. One of the things I like about the tablesaw, is that it is fast. I can cut a groove or dado quite quickly. But I love using my Router Table, and any chance to tweak or improve its capabilities is fun.

-- Ken, Florida,

6 comments so far

View Matt 's profile


212 posts in 4864 days

#1 posted 06-23-2009 12:16 AM

I use my router for dado’s. I always get nice smooth clean cuts. I never made a jig, I just clamp a straight edge and the rest is history.

-- Hold on! Let me get the board stretcher!

View Bigdogs117's profile


1864 posts in 4736 days

#2 posted 06-23-2009 05:21 AM

I use both. I tend to use the table saw more if I have a bunch of cuts because the plywood these days are slightly less in thickness than advertised and I can adjust the dado blade to any thickness I need.

-- Rusty

View a1Jim's profile


118162 posts in 4692 days

#3 posted 06-23-2009 06:03 AM

I think this might end up 50/50 the table saw works well and faster than routers but a router and or router table works better for stop dados.


View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4449 days

#4 posted 06-23-2009 08:46 PM

I use the router because I don’t have a dato blade set. I saw a nifty shopmade two piece dado jig. The two pieces are clamped so you cut on one side of dado going in one direction, and then cut the other side on the return in the opposite direction. You can make as wide a dado as you want with one 1/2” bit. That makes it easy to make a cut for any thickness of plywood to fit into.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jim Crockett (USN Retired)'s profile

Jim Crockett (USN Retired)

852 posts in 4848 days

#5 posted 06-23-2009 11:18 PM

Mike, I have made a dado jig similar to the one you describe. It works very well but there is one major limitation – it only works for a particular router base and one size router bit. If you make it for a 1/2” bit to enable you to make 3/4” dadoes, as I did, then you can’t use it with a 3/8” bit to make a 1/2” dado. So I usually just use a straight edge and nudge it appropriately to make the correct sized daeo.


-- A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including his/her life".

View RouterManiac's profile


96 posts in 4396 days

#6 posted 07-04-2009 06:22 PM

I think there is a strong case for both types of techniques.

-- Ken, Florida,

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