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Hello all.

My wife and I are in the process of planning some renovations for our home. One of the projects I will be attempting, is to replace our slab cabinet doors with flat panel doors that we will then paint. I have the Ridgid portable table saw. I do not have a dado blade for that saw as of yet. I don't have an appropriate router as of yet, although I have my eye on the Ridgid 2 1/4 HP set that comes with two bases.

I plan to use a less expensive hardwood such as poplar for the rail and stiles and appropriate grade of plywood for the panels.

My question is: Is it better to use a dado blade to cut the grooves and stub tenons in the rail and stiles, or is it better to use a router in a router table?
 

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Reg, when making dado cuts I invariably use my stacked dado set. For me it is so much easier and safer to run them on the table saw rather than doing them on my router table.
 

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One nice thing about a table saw is that you can adjust the width in very small increments. I guess you could do two passes with an undersized router bit too. I had the same saw and the 6" Freud set worked great ($80).
 

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I bought a router table before I bought a table saw so I went with adjustable router bits. doing rail and stile by hand with a router would be real hard. I used 1/4'' red oak ply for my panels and it's not really a 1/4'' thats why I got the adjustable set for different material. TS and a dado blade would be cheaper, jsut take your time setting the thickness for your ply. My 3 sheets were all different. router table+bits+coping sled or TS+dado set+homemadejig .

http://www.toolstoday.com/p-5060-instile-router-bit-set-adjustable-width-panel-groove-system.aspx
 

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Both will work fine, but I tend to prefer the TS dado set. Usually it's cheaper to buy a router bit, but since you don't have a router yet, it's not necessarily true in this case. I would normally suggest a moderate dado set like the Oshlun, however, a router is a very handy tool to have, so if it helps justify the expenditure, get a router.

I'm sure the Ridgid is a fine router, but at similar prices, there are a few plunge/fixed combo kits that are more proven that I'd go with first…Milwaukee 5616-24 for $210 shipped, Bosch 1617EVSPK for $215 shipped, DeWalt 618PK for $215 shipped, or the Hitachi M12VC for $162 shipped. Milwaukee is actually the upper end of the Ridgid parent company, TTI.
 

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Using a dado set on the TS is much easier to control. In this application, a top-of-the-line dado is not necessary and a 6" dado will suffice, so you don't have to spend a lot of money on the dado set unless you want great tools for the long term.
 

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It looks like pretty much everyone agrees and has tried both. A TS/dado is the easiest to control. I still sometimes use my router table though to avoid set-up on the dado stack which allows me to keep working with the TS without a blade and insert change.
 

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If you are thinking about a dado stack, try your normal blade first. It's fundamentally the same thing, just not as wide a kerf so it takes more cuts.

I cut some rails and stiles this weekend for 1/4" plywood panels using my table saw with the standard blade. I didn't need anything more than the stock fence, and my crosscut sled.

I cut the dados in 2 passes per board by setting the fence so that the board would hit the blade just off of center, flipped the board end over end and then sent it through again with the other face against the fence. it only took a few minutes of test cutting to get the fence set so that my dado would fit the 1/4" ply just right.

I just cut the tenons on my crosscut sled by setting a stop at the depth I wanted for the shoulder and making a few passes until I got there.

My bet is I couldn't have done it faster with a dado stack.
 

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Lots of guys use the router for dadoes. I can't seem to do it without it being a life threatening, or at least a work piece destroying incident.

Use the table saw / dado.

Not sure about the size dado the Ridgid needs, but if it takes a 6" instead of an 8" I can recommend the Oshlun SDS-0630. I've got it, and LOVE it… I got mine from Rockler on sale. Amazon usually has good prices on them too…
 

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I am facing the same question with regard to mitered lap joints I am working on for a hybrid presentation cabinet I am making.

The stacked dado blade makes the work a bit easier and possibly safer, but leaves rough ridges on the finished cut, so a glued joint could be compromised by the rough surface. A router bit can make a smoother cut, but it's a lot of work to climb cut through all that wood. Trying to hog it all off in one cut with a router is, I agree, dangerous. And it makes for a lousy cut, too.

Solution: Use your stacked dado to hog off the material to within a sixteenth of the desired depth of cut, then use your router table and a good bottom cleaning or straight bit to take off the last sixteenth inch of material. A very light cut using a table-mounted router isn't any more dangerous than a dado blade (less so, imho) and gets you closer to a smooth, gluable surface for your joint.
 

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I cut some rails and stiles this weekend for 1/4" plywood panels using my table saw with the standard blade. I didn't need anything more than the stock fence, and my crosscut sled.

I cut the dados in 2 passes per board by setting the fence so that the board would hit the blade just off of center, flipped the board end over end and then sent it through again with the other face against the fence. it only took a few minutes of test cutting to get the fence set so that my dado would fit the 1/4" ply just right.


I also just use the TS blade when I build drawers.
 

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I like Abbot's way, use a standard blade for all your cuts but, I only do this on "shop cabinet grade doors". You could get away with this since you are painting; putty and sanding fix everyting.
Anything my wife will see outside the shop gets the stacked dado blades. I recently replaced my old, high speed steel dado set with the Freud 6" set. It was about 80 bucks off Amazon.
A Router is a great addition to your toolbox though. Maybe go the used route. Look on craigs list and any local pawn shops. There are always deals out there for power tools. I stopped buying new power tools a long time ago.
 

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I think the stacked dado is definitely the easiest. That being said, the minimum dado size on my stacked dado is a true 1/4". But 1/4" plywood is actually less than a 1/4" thick. If it's important to have tight fitting plywood panels, either use the std blade and then shifting the fence slightly as described above or you will need a specialty router bit sized for the slightly undersized plywoods. But, I just built a cabinet using 1/4" plywood and the stacked dado and made some anti-rattle spacers so I could still use the stacked dado. It was the easiest way to get it done and no rattle in the doors.
 

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I use one of two methods at different times. One is to tilt the TS blade 8-10 degrees and cut thin long grain wedges from scrap. Apply a smidgeon of glue only to the side facing away from the panel and insert to fill the gap on the inside of the door after the panel is assembled. When the glue dries, use a razor knife to trim the wedge flush to the rail/stile. The other is to make my own "space balls" by running a straight bead of silicon on a piece of wax paper. Allow that to dry and then cut into short segments. Insert the silicon segments in the dado on panel assembly just like the "space balls" you can buy from Rockler or Woodcraft. For my most recent project, I used the wedge method because visually it looks like the dado was always cut to the same size as the plywood after the wedges are trimmed. It's just easier for me than fiddling with the TS fence to get a proper fit with a std kerf blade.
 
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