Dados for dummies: how to choose a set

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Forum topic by Elizabeth posted 09-13-2013 05:55 PM 2664 views 1 time favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Elizabeth's profile


823 posts in 4433 days

09-13-2013 05:55 PM

Topic tags/keywords: dado sawstop

I think it’s time to get into dados. I want to make boxes and box joints and I have learned how to make a jig for that but it looks like it’ll be a lot easier if I get a dado set.

I have a Sawstop (yeah, yeah) so I will also have to get the new brake ($90) and lock down insert ($40). As you might guess I don’t want to spend more than I have to for the dado set itself. I don’t want to buy junk but I don’t want to waste money.

I will need an 8” dado set for the sawstop. Can you give me some recommendations on a set to get that is easy to use and will give good results?

27 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

7302 posts in 3783 days

#1 posted 09-13-2013 06:02 PM

The premier sets would be the Forrest King, Freud SD508, and the Infinity Dadonator. Those are $200 and up sets, and are top notch. In a less expensive set, most tool reviews ranked the Freud SD208 set the top one, it runs about $100, less on sale. One set I’ve had good experience with is the CMT dado set, it was less than $100 but they’ve been switching around some of their sourcing (some of their stuff is now Chinese) so it may pay to skip that one.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View dschlic1's profile


515 posts in 3260 days

#2 posted 09-13-2013 06:07 PM

I have the Harbor Freight 42 tooth stacked dado Item #44566. I had to go through two sets to find one that cut good, but at $60 I consider it to be a bargain. The nice thing about HF is their return policy. If you don’t like it, you can return it in 30 days for an exchange or a refund.

Frued Diablo also has a nice dado set but costs $100

View Elizabeth's profile


823 posts in 4433 days

#3 posted 09-13-2013 06:08 PM

Thanks Fred. What’s the difference between the Freud SD208 and Freud SD508? They’re running $100 and $200 at Woodcraft and assuming they are in stock, my local branch is having a “10% off everything” sale this month.

Editing to clarify that I am reading the descriptions of the two on but I’m wondering from a use perspective what the differences are, since I’ve never used them. Is one set easier to set up than the other?

View Elizabeth's profile


823 posts in 4433 days

#4 posted 09-13-2013 06:11 PM

I hadn’t thought of Harbor Freight, that’s a good idea. Though I’m not sure I want to go uber-cheap on my first set because I might not even know if it’s not a good set; I might think that’s how it’s supposed to be!

View NiteWalker's profile


2743 posts in 3867 days

#5 posted 09-13-2013 06:16 PM

The dewalt/delta 7670 dado set cuts clean dados with pretty flat bottoms. Has a great case too.
I did a bunch of box joints with this set and they came out perfect.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View pintodeluxe's profile


6497 posts in 4103 days

#6 posted 09-13-2013 06:35 PM

The cheapest Freud 8” dado has served me well. I have cut thousands of tenons with it. I have never had it sharpened, and I bought it used! It still cuts crisp tenon shoulders, that require no fine tuning.
It will handle simple dados with ease, and you can use the shims for perfect fitting plywood joints.
Mine has red blades, and came in a handy case like this…

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

7302 posts in 3783 days

#7 posted 09-13-2013 07:01 PM

Elizabeth, the difference between the 2 Freud sets is the number of teeth on the outside blades as well as the chippers. The 508 set has 24 teeth on the outside blades, and 4 teeth on each of the chippers. The 208 has 1/2 that many on the chippers and the outside blades. Thats true of most of the premium sets versus the less expensive ones. The Dadonator has 6 teeth on the chippers (no sure of the outside blades). But setting either of the Freud sets up is exactly the same, and they include a chart to help you get the thickness you want. Then if it needs to be fine tuned, there are shims included to make small adjustments. I’ve had a Freud 508 set for over 14 years now (just got it’s 3rd sharpening) and it’s still does a great job. But like I said, the 208 is a great set as well…

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View bondogaposis's profile


6069 posts in 3641 days

#8 posted 09-13-2013 07:06 PM

The Irwin set is working well for me.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 3238 days

#9 posted 09-13-2013 07:07 PM

I have the marples for lowes I have not had one problem with it.

View MrRon's profile


6217 posts in 4533 days

#10 posted 09-13-2013 08:02 PM

Freud makes a dado set especially for box joints. It cuts either 1/4” or 3/8” joints. I also have a HF dado set and a “wobbler”. They certainly would not be good for fine furniture, but adequate for everyday “no frills” furniture.

View Handtooler's profile


1628 posts in 3422 days

#11 posted 09-13-2013 08:04 PM

I first got the MIBRO set from Lowe’s for $50.00 and it seemed fine for me especially for box joints even though bat wings don’t bother me. Then I got the CMT set as Lowe’s was discontinuing CMT brand and got it for $20.00 and what a difference it makes. SUPER for my level of craftsmanship. CMT if you can get it less than $120.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343 [email protected]

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

7302 posts in 3783 days

#12 posted 09-13-2013 08:13 PM

This may (or may not) be of use. This is to demonstrate the difference between the sets with more teeth versus less. The pic is 3 dados I cut, one with a brand new Freud SD508, one with my old 508 (had just been sharpened) and one with a new CMT set (which has the tooth count of the Freud 208 set: 2 tooth chippers, and 12 tooth out blades), all of these sets were made in Italy. The pic may not be of a high enough resolution to see, but the cuts are pretty much the same (ignore the void in the plywood, the blades didn’t cause that). The edge of the cut, and the smoothness of the bottom are the key things. This was a very poor quality ply, with a very thin veneer…so it should have shown some splintering around the edges, but doesn’t. Anyway, my point is the less expensive quality sets can make very good cuts, as this CMT did. You will see just a few places where the fewer teeth caused a chipout, and it was very small.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 4433 days

#13 posted 09-13-2013 08:19 PM

Elizabeth, I don’t own a dado set yet, but rest assured, before I buy one I’ll send a private message to if he doesn’t make a comment on my thread. He has done some tests with sets and has reviews and blogs about that subject.

He has always been helpful to me, and I’m sure he will help you also.

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View knotscott's profile


8434 posts in 4665 days

#14 posted 09-13-2013 08:19 PM

The Infinity Dadonator is the best set I’ve used to date. The Freud 508/608, Forrest, and Ridge Carbide are also good choices.

The best set in the $100 range I’ve used is the DeWalt/Delta 7670. It leaves a cleaner cut than other entry level sets, has a great carrying case, and nice shim stock…a taste of the top shelf sets for close to half the price.

For those who can spin a 6” set, and need keep the budget to a minimum, the 6” Oshlun set with the C4 carbide is on sale from Amazon for ~ $57 shipped. I don’t know of another set for less money that’s worth spending a dime on.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 4433 days

#15 posted 09-13-2013 08:22 PM

I must have lit the Bat Signal!

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

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