box joint

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Forum topic by bear2 posted 12-16-2018 07:31 PM 949 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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29 posts in 3786 days

12-16-2018 07:31 PM

For making box joints what is better to use: router or dado table saw blades?

-- It isn't always about being fast or even accurate that counts, it's being willing

11 replies so far

View Manitario's profile


2797 posts in 3493 days

#1 posted 12-16-2018 08:42 PM

Try both. There’s no difference in the results. Use what you find more convenient and/or cheaper. I use my tablesaw b/c I find it easy to set it up but I know there are many who use router jigs and great great results.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View TungOil's profile


1372 posts in 1105 days

#2 posted 12-17-2018 01:03 AM

Some dado sets leave ‘bat ears’ on the outside of the cut, so check your set first.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View Andre's profile


3017 posts in 2416 days

#3 posted 12-17-2018 06:59 AM

I have the Forrest box set and have no complaints. Dado if I want to go 1/2 +

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View WoodenDreams's profile


888 posts in 521 days

#4 posted 12-17-2018 08:37 AM

I do the dado and rabbit cuts on both, the table saw and the router table. Only once with a straight edge clamp with a hand held router. A router bit gives a smoother cut verses the teeth of the saw blades. Box joints on smaller boxes, I use a locking miter bit for the corner joints.

View Tony1212's profile


375 posts in 2344 days

#5 posted 12-17-2018 02:23 PM

My tablesaw is very old (close to 70 years old) and it lacks a height lock. I find that over time (say, the time it takes to cut a dado in a 4ft piece of plywood), any blade or dado set will drop a few mm back into the table. So I can only do box joints, rabbets and dadoes on my router table where I can lock in the bit height.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View splintergroup's profile


3219 posts in 1832 days

#6 posted 12-17-2018 03:52 PM

I use both depending on my mood, but usually I tend to go router for small pieces and TS for the larger stuff. The box joint TS blades are one of my all time favorite buys, I love the clean cuts and flat bottomed grooves.

The TS is quicker to set up and git-er-done if you already have a good jig and the wear and tear on cutters is much lower. I also feel the TS blade is much better with respect to tearout issues due to the cutting forces.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


2263 posts in 2104 days

#7 posted 12-17-2018 04:00 PM

I use both. Which one depends on what I’m making?

Mostly use table saw for standard 1/4-3/8 wide joints, using dedicated box joint blade . Rarely use my adjustable dado blade for box joints as it takes much more time to set width, but it works same when I want larger joint size.

Prefer to use table saw for woods that tend to splinter easy, like; Zebra wood, Wenge, or BB plywood; or when I have pile of drawer boxes to build and want avoid need to stop and clean ply adhesive off the router bit in middle of job.
IME – Cutting angles on router tend to create larger splinter or edge tear out in chip prone materials. Talking kinds of woods that chip out even with fresh MDF backer board and tight board clamping. Probably never notice the saw .vs. router difference with cherry or maple, but run any hardwood that fractures easily and see a difference. Need to use a spiral fluted cutter on router for best cut quality. See less difference in tear out if use a 1 flute spiral bit .vs. conventional 2 flute spiral bit.


-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View Heyoka's profile


33 posts in 462 days

#8 posted 12-20-2018 03:06 PM

I have only used the table saw for box joints of all sizes. To prevent tear out use a backer board.

-- Heyoka

View Charlie H.'s profile

Charlie H.

395 posts in 1260 days

#9 posted 12-21-2018 01:25 AM

A long time ago I built a couple of router table box joint sleds 3/8” & 1/2” and they work very well.
After I got the FTG blade I built a 1/8” box joint sled for the table saw and it works well too.

-- Regards, Charlie in Rowlett, TX --------I talk to myself, because sometimes I need expert advice.---------

View bear2's profile


29 posts in 3786 days

#10 posted 12-23-2018 07:11 PM

I want to thank everyone for their input. It seems that using a TS dado for lg joints and a router might be the way to go.

-- It isn't always about being fast or even accurate that counts, it's being willing

View rizzo's profile


76 posts in 1862 days

#11 posted 12-24-2018 04:05 AM

Mark me down in the tablesaw list. I feel like it is mush faster and I can handle lager material if necessary. Lots of good points made in the replies above. Most important is that you need blades with a flat grind. The “ears” others mentioned will indeed cause issues with the final look of the joint.

Another aspect that pushes me in the tablesaw direction is “sound”. Cutting box joints is not a quick process. (It can be, but I find that I usually make lots of boxes or drawers or whatnot, never just one item). With that said I don’t want to listen to the high pitch whine of a router cutting into wood for that long. That is just personal preference and not a great reason to use a tablesaw over a router, but just my thoughts.

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