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Routing channels in wood for sliding doors?

18668 Views 14 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  rpalm
Ok, help. A friend of mine has asked me to build a simple bar for her and that's the easy part. She's requested sliding doors on the bottom half and I've never routed out a channel before so I need some advice. I vaguely remember my Dad talking about using a Dado blade on the table saw to route the channels. Is that the easiest way to go? And any suggestions on a dado blade? Anything I should know about so I won't hurt myself in the process?

Thank you!!!!
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A dado blade will work fine if you are dadoing with the grain, less so if the dado is cross grain. A stacked set (blades and chippers) tends to give a flatter bottom and less chip out than does a wobble blade. The stacked set seems easier to get the dado size right. It's trial and error adjusting a wobble blade.

But you will have those who swear by one over the other. It's a matter of preference - and to a certain degree, budget - but both will do the job.

You can also use a router with an appropriate bit.
depending on which step in the process you're routing that groove, a dado blade in your table saw might be the fastest way to go about. although some dado blade sets do not produce a clean flat bottom on the groove - in which case you'll need to clean those out with a chisel/shoulder plane, OR an alternative is to use a router to make the grove.

what equipment do you have in your arsenal now? if you already have a router, or a router table (might be even better) you can forgo the dado blade altogether.
I agree with PurpLev. Either a dado blade or a router will do the trick. If you already have a router, I'd do it that way.

A dado set is a good thing to have if you use your table saw a lot, but a decent one is going to set you back at least $100. Go much cheaper than that and you're asking for trouble.
The last time I did that I used a router. I really think either way is fine. It comes down to personal preference, and the tools you have available. If I were doing several of them, I might lean toward the dado on a table saw. For only one or two, I think a router is easier. Dave and PurpLev really covered it well though. I'm not sure I said anything different.
...and if you are not happy with the groove afterwards then a simple sliding door track from Rockler, which is down right cheap, will fix ya up.
A router makes the best dado. Unfortunately if you're using sheet goods, the sheet goods are always undersized. So a router will make the groove too wide. Unless there's a specialty bit out there to compensate for the ever-thinning plywood OR you use an undersized bit and make two passes.

Also, it's easier to cut a stop dado with the router than it is with a dado blade.

The track is a real clean way to do it and in the long run is probably the "real" way to do it.
Hey Kiersten, It's great to see you again on LJ's, you've been absent for awhile. I have to agree with pretty much all of what is written by other LJ'ers above. I think if you haven't had experience using dado blades, or cutting track with router, the pre made track would help you get it done quickly. You should have someone who has good experience with dado blades, show you some hands on methods, for safety sake. Dado blades are what "tagged" my middle finger on left hand, very destructive damage can occur from them, and I consider myself very lucky, or as I believe, watched over. I will still live with limited use of it, but I "survived". I hope we see your finished product real soon, good to see your still around.
Thanks so much to all of you for your advice! You have no idea how much it's helped me!!!! I think I'll go with the safest method-the pre-made track. I'm a bit chicken to try out the dado and have yet to figure out my router. I shouldn't even call myself a woodworker, should I?!? Thanks again!!!!
Kiersten, the LJ's have come up with some great ideas. If you are not comfortable with the router you could use your normal table saw blade & do several passes at different widths. The router will give a much cleaner finish on the bottom of the groove but if that is not too important the table saw might be a better safety option if you are not confident with the router.
Good luck & let us know how it turns out.
kierstan another option other then a standard dado is frueds box joint blade set it will give you an absolute flat bottom and i know you make lots of boxes so a box joint would be a good thing to learn the blade goes for 99 bucks and will cut a 3/8 wide groove.
Are you really that pretty ?

When I do something like that (being lazy at heart), I just use the saw blade and move the ripe fence a little each time. Don't forget to make the top grooves extra deep so you can remove the doors.
Kiersten, ...those that try, are.
Kiersten ….

If you try this, I would recommend you start with a larger piece of stock. Cut your stock slightly longer than your finished length and keep the stock width at several times the finished width of your finished track width. This technique will give you plenty of stock to hold securely, keeping your hands and fingers a greater distance from the cutter, plus the added length will allow you to trim the ends and remove any tear out.
When you cut the track to final width use a good push stick.

Be careful if you try it ….. but don't be afraid to try it, just think safety first.

Kiersten, I used this method from FWW and my doors work well.
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