Harbor Freight Dado set

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Review by MrRon posted 12-16-2013 06:48 PM 22339 views 0 times favorited 40 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Harbor Freight Dado set No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I’m certain the purists will condemn me for using the name “Harbor Freight” in connection with woodworking tools, but like it or not, here it is. I don’t use a dado blade very often, so I couldn’t justify $200+ sets like those from Forrest. But when I do need one, I went with the cheapest set I could find. The HF set is 8” and cuts dados up to 7/8”. The teeth are C2 carbide and number 22 teeth. I was impressed by the size of the carbide. They look like they could be resharpened many times. Setup was the same as with any other dado set. The blades and chippers fit very snugly on my saw arbor. In use, it cut flat bottom grooves with a little bit of tearout. I think with a good sharpening, tearout would be as good as the pricey sets. The set comes with several brass shims, but I would recommend getting magnetic shims, as the shims supplied, like with other sets, tend to get caught in the arbor threads. The current price is $34.99, but with a 25% off coupon, the final cost can’t be beat.

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5931 posts in 4092 days

40 comments so far

View TheOldTimer's profile


226 posts in 3935 days

#1 posted 12-16-2013 11:13 PM

MrRon how many chippers does the set contain and how many teeth do the chippers have? Does it come with a 3/32 chipper for undersized plywood? I am not a purest and have bought a lot of tools from HF including there HVLP spray guns.

-- TheOldTimer,Chandler Arizona

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618 posts in 4708 days

#2 posted 12-16-2013 11:27 PM

I believe there are a lot of ljocks out there that are willing to give Harbor Frieght a try, and are interested in your review. That having been said, I purchased my Freud dado set a few years ago for $74.99 and have been very happy with it. Your post implies that there are only two choices, the cheapest possible and a $200.00 set. That simply isn’t the case.

-- When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there is no end to what you CAN'T do

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36 posts in 2667 days

#3 posted 12-16-2013 11:31 PM

Dont lump all woodworkers together. I have several tools from HF and they seem to do well. I believe that if you tune the tools properly they can provide the desired results. Having said that, I have been upgrading and I do believe that some tools are worth the higher price.

-- Kurt K.

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3789 posts in 2604 days

#4 posted 12-16-2013 11:46 PM

Harbor Freight tools may not have the fit and finish of name brand tools but, with a little tweaking, they’re generally serviceable. I live on a laughably small pension, and without Harbor Freight I wouldn’t be able to do many things. Just glued up my first project using 12 Harbor Freight clamps. Just one or two of the name brand clamps would have cost as much — or more — than all my Harbor Freight clamps combined. Same function as the name brand, for a lot less money. Thanks, Harbor Freight.

-- Mistakes are what pave the road to perfection

View a1Jim's profile


118134 posts in 4426 days

#5 posted 12-17-2013 12:18 AM

Thanks for the review.

I got a email notice today about a dado set on sale for $49.95,I have no clue if the sets any good or not.


View lab7654's profile


266 posts in 3096 days

#6 posted 12-17-2013 01:09 AM

If I don’t end up with a Freud set after Christmas, I might be temped enough to pick this up. When I first saw HF in the title, I imagined a HSS or wobble stack, but the carbide w/ chippers was a nice surprise. As long as chunks of metal aren’t flying off, it sounds like solid tool.

-- Tristin King -- When in doubt, sand it.

View TheOldTimer's profile


226 posts in 3935 days

#7 posted 12-17-2013 01:25 AM


I looked at that set and the one from HF and the draw back is not having a chipper for undersized plywood. I hate putting on all the shims, just something else to do to get the job done. I guess I am getting lazy in my old age.

-- TheOldTimer,Chandler Arizona

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

598 posts in 4166 days

#8 posted 12-17-2013 01:48 AM

I own this same set, and it has served me well. I get no chipout, but I routinely run the stock backwards (toward me) at 1 to 2mm depth of cut before raising the blade(s) to the desired height for the forward cut. I honestly don’t know if this set would produce any chipout if that wasn’t my routine.

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3539 days

#9 posted 12-17-2013 01:50 AM

I started out with that set and couldn’t live with the “bat ears” at the edges of the cuts. I used mine primarily for box joints and agree that they will cut acceptable dados (but not the best for box joints).

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2894 days

#10 posted 12-17-2013 05:22 AM

I saw this review and immediately thought of the Avanti Pro (reviewed by Brian on LJ). If not for the different tooth count (22 vs 24), I would have sworn they were the same product. That being said, with the 25% off coupon it’s certainly seems like it would be the lowest price dado stack available.

-- paxorion

View knothead's profile


163 posts in 4797 days

#11 posted 12-17-2013 03:05 PM

I have the Freud 8 inch dado set and I have to admit that the “Bat Ears” that gfadvm mentioned drive me NUTS!As do the shims. I too am generally willing to give harbor Freight a look when I am looking for tools that I won’t use “often” (that is a subjective term) but generally I have learned the hard way that if a tool can hurt or maim me then quality is key no matter the price. HF or Top of the line.

-- So Much Wood - So Little Time! --

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4081 days

#12 posted 12-17-2013 04:27 PM

I have a LARGE selection of Harbor Freight tools in my shop. Nothing wrong per se, just inspect the snot out of that blade set before use. Their quality control is somewhat lacking, just double check all the brazing and get it sharpened and you should be good to go for years to come…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View MrRon's profile


5931 posts in 4092 days

#13 posted 12-17-2013 04:33 PM

Oldtimer; The set has (5) 1/8” and (1) 1/16” chippers. Knothead; For my use, “bat ears” were not a problem. If I were building a fine piece of furniture, I would certainly use a better set.

View CFrye's profile


11074 posts in 2688 days

#14 posted 12-17-2013 04:45 PM

Thanks for the review Mr. Ron. Recently started looking at dado heads and wondered about the HF model. Now if I could only remember what I wanted it for…

-- God bless, Candy

View Jofa's profile


272 posts in 2687 days

#15 posted 12-17-2013 07:40 PM

I generally like HF stuff and I’ve had good luck with most of their tools. I agree that some of them require adjustment in order to work properly. Example is their power planer. Out of the box the blades weren’t set up correctly. A bit of tweaking and it works fine. (I just need to get my skills better).

I just grabbed a Diablo dado set from HD. My understanding is that this is the same as the Freud SBOX8 set. I like it very much and I’m not experiencing bat ears.

Wifey ordered the Incra I-Box for me for Christmas so it should be a good setup.

MrRon, let us know how she performs down the road. Like I said, I like the HF stuff and I’ve had some of it for years.

-- Thank you Lord for the passion and ability to make things from your creation.

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