The King of Dado Blades

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Review by bunkie posted 12-30-2009 05:03 AM 16092 views 1 time favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch
The King of Dado Blades No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I’ve been a long-time owner of the thin-kerf Woodworker II blade. That blade changed how I worked. This year I had it sharpened by Forrest and I have been very pleased with the result.

In that time, I have gone through two other stacked dado sets. The first was a 6” non-carbide set that cost about $50. It was awful. A few years ago I bought what I thought would be a good compromise between cost and functionality, a Freud 8” set. This was a big improvement. I still got tearout when cross-cutting plywood, but it wasn’t as bad as with Dado #1. One day I got it out to make some cuts and I happened to notice that some of the teeth were missing and others were broken. I was not pleased. I considered having Forrest sharpen it and replace the teeth, but the cost would have been as much as the original purchase price. Damn.

About three months back, various on-line sites were having a sale on the Dado King. Normally, the 8” version is almost $300 which is a serious chunk of change, almost as much as I paid for the Sears contractor saw that was my workhorse for many years. At $240 with free shipping and no tax, I just couldn’t resist. It came quickly. It’s beautiful. The teeth are works of art, beautifully finished and seriously sharp. I didn’t get a chance to try it until this weekend. In the interim I got a new saw (Grizzley 1023SL) and this weekend I put in some time doing a little fine tuning of the 90 and 45 degree stops with my Wixey angle finder (that’s another seriously cool tool!). I decided it was time to test out the Dado King.

I had some plywood scraps and after one or two test cuts, I was able to dial in the correct width using the excellent magnetic shims supplied with the set. The first thing I noticed was that this is the first Dado I have ever heard which does not make that distinct thrumming sound. It’s incredibly quiet, sounding more like a regular saw blade than a dado.

My first cut was a dado with the grain. The resulting cut was perfect, absolutely perfect. It had a flat bottom and excpetionally clean edges with no tearout whatsoever. The width was perfect. This particular plywood is of the Chinese Big-Box store variety with its patented essence of maple veneer. It tears out at the mention of cutting. So next came the acid test, a cross-grain dado. This was not perfect. The flat bottom was there, but there was some very small tearing of the grain in a few places. But it’s so small as to not be a problem. I’ll try to take some photographs this weekend which I’ll post.

All in all, I regret not investing the money in the first place and I’m exceptionally pleased with the Dado King. It completely lives up to its name. Finally, it feels good to buy a US-made product that is best-in-class. If you appreciate really fine tools, you will love the Dado King.

-- Altruism is, ultimately, self-serving

View bunkie's profile


415 posts in 3919 days

20 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118065 posts in 4349 days

#1 posted 12-30-2009 05:22 AM

congrats on a super dado blade set . Thanks for the review.


View DrBreakIt's profile


50 posts in 3858 days

#2 posted 12-30-2009 05:24 AM

Sounds Excellent!

View Dusty56's profile


11859 posts in 4460 days

#3 posted 12-30-2009 06:53 AM

Do you make something special that requires the 8” size ? I was going to purchase the 8” but the salesman told me that I would probably never max out the depth of cut that the 6” size gives you. Saved a lot of money by going with the 6” and have yet to exceed its cutting depth limit.

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Moron's profile


5048 posts in 4665 days

#4 posted 12-30-2009 07:06 AM

how exceptional it must be to cut a goove with dado blades and get little if any tear out…......... ?

and little if any tear out when running a dado blade …....... to make a dado

I hate to tell ya….....................there should be ZERO tear out in a dado or a groove to get 5 stars. No chips for 5 stars.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View ericandcandi's profile


152 posts in 4290 days

#5 posted 12-30-2009 07:31 AM

I have to agree with roman, 5 stars should equal ZERO tear-out. Great review though. I have heard nothing but great talk about that set. Im saving my pennies as we speak for this same one.

-- ericandcandi in Louisiana- Home of the "LSU Tigers"

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4760 days

#6 posted 12-30-2009 07:32 AM

Sounds like you are a happy camper. If I used a dado a lot more than I do I would probably get one also. As it is I use my Freud 508 about once or twice a year. It works great for me.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 4546 days

#7 posted 12-30-2009 12:14 PM

I have this dado set and would not have any other. I especially like the extra plywood chipper that comes with the set to cut the under size plywood we get now a days. No shims are needed for the standard sizes.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4594 days

#8 posted 12-30-2009 12:45 PM

This is a nice review, Bunkie. I bought the 8” version several years ago and it has performed flawlessly. The dadoes are flat bottomed and it plows them out effortlessly.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3846 days

#9 posted 12-30-2009 03:49 PM

Thanks for the review. I also suffered with a low quality dado set for years and I also love my thin kerf Woodworker II saw blade. I probably went through the same decision making process you did but I ended up with the Freud SD606, the 6 inch version of their dial-a-width dado set. I am very pleased with it. It’s great to get true flat bottoms and no tear out (have not tried it on plywood yet). The convenience of the dial-a-width is great – no shims. I don’t mean to imply that my dado is better than the Dado King. I believe they are both excellent dado sets and vastly superior to the poor quality set that I used to use.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View JasonWagner's profile


527 posts in 3952 days

#10 posted 12-30-2009 11:26 PM

Well, it is plywood and you don’t know how well that top layer was glued in that particular spot that you got some tear out. That’s like being worried that your fence face is out by 0.001”. Thank you for the review. I had a Freud set but sold it with my Ridgid contractor saw. I’m thinking about getting the same one for my new saw just because the difference between the dado I had and “perfect” isn’t worth 3x the price for me. I’d love to have the Forrest stack, but have treated myself to WWIIs instead. By the way, I have the Wixey angle gauge and a 1023SLWX and I set the stops out as far as I could. I’ll always check the angle so why have it be 44.8 one time and require me to get wrenches out. So mine goes from <0>45 degrees.

-- some day I hope to have enough clamps to need a clamp cart!

View David Knapke's profile

David Knapke

2 posts in 3950 days

#11 posted 12-31-2009 12:28 AM

I have the same set and have had great success with plywood and little to no tear out depending on what the last substrate is (it really annoys me that commercial sheet wood dealers are now using MDF as the final layer). Then I made a bunch of zero clearance inserts and that ended any tear out problems I had. Of courses some blue tape will eliminate it too.

-- djk

View bunkie's profile


415 posts in 3919 days

#12 posted 12-31-2009 01:42 AM


I can only say that, first, I was not using a zero-clearance insert and there was a good 1/4” gap between the blade and the insert. Second, as I mentioned, the plywood used for the test has an incredibly thin face veneer, less than 1/32” thick. I’m not sure how good the glue is as many have complained of delaminating. Finally, the tearout in question is really small, less than 1/16” of an inch in length at its largest and there was very little of it overall. I fully expect that there will be no tearout whatsoever once I make a zero-clearance insert. I will, of course, update this thread with my results once I do.

-- Altruism is, ultimately, self-serving

View bunkie's profile


415 posts in 3919 days

#13 posted 12-31-2009 01:46 AM


I considered the Freud dial-a-width, but I was going by personal experience. My Forrest WWII ended up being very inexpensive over the long run while the $100 Freud turned out to be an expensive mistake considering how little use I got out of it.

-- Altruism is, ultimately, self-serving

View rjcshop's profile


14 posts in 3894 days

#14 posted 12-31-2009 02:14 AM

Thanks for the review – I put the Forrest set on my wish list for Christmas since I too loved the Woodworker II. Happily Santa, aka my wife, got it for me – so I’m putting it in the saw tomorrow to finish a project. It’s all solid oak, so tear out shouldn’t be an issue, but flat bottoms, especially when making Tenons is a big thing – so I’m looking forward to a great day in the shop. What better way is there to spend the last day of the year …

-- RobertJ

View matt garcia's profile

matt garcia

1917 posts in 4444 days

#15 posted 12-31-2009 02:55 AM

Yeah, I have similar results from my 6” Dado King. I love mine!!

-- Matt Garcia Wannabe Period Furniture Maker, Houston TX

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