How to Cut a Dado – Do it the Right Way

Cutting a dado is a very common task in a lot of woodworking projects. What is a dado? It’s basically just a word for cutting a channel, or a groove, into a piece of wood that another piece of wood will slot into.

This is a great way to make sure that pieces are put together accurately in cabinets, desks and so on.

You are cutting the grooves that everything will slot into, thus greatly increasing the accuracy of assembly during your woodworking project.

The photo shown here demonstrates this example, there is a groove cut in the wood that is sized for another piece of wood to fit into.

Using stacked blades

The easiest (or at least most efficient) way to cut a dado is to use a stacked dado blade for a table saw. A stacked blade is pretty much exactly as it sounds, multiple bladed stacked to create a wide cutting blade.

In order to properly use a stacked dado blade on your table saw, you will want to make sure that your saw can fit the stacked blade, and you will also want to be sure that your saw is powerful enough to cut into wood with that wide of a stroke.

Dado cutting tips

If you can’t safely fit the needed with of blade onto your table saw, there are a couple tricks to make it easier to cut the dado you need with the hardware you do have.

The first situation might be needing to cut a 3/4 dado, but only being able to fit a 1/2 stacked blade into your table saw. In this case, you could make one pass to cut a 1/2 inch dado, and then make a second pass on the table saw to cut the remaining 1/4 inches that you need. You will need to make two passes, obviously, but you can still get a 3/4 dado by doing this.

Alternatively, you may need to cut a dado that is 1/2 inch deep but don’t have a saw powerful enough to make that in one pass. You could cut 1/4 inch deep on one pass, then make a second pass and cut out the remaining 1/4 inch. This is quite common for woodworkers that use router blades to cut dadoes.

Don’t neglect stability

In order to promote strength and stability in your woodworking projects, it’s probably a good idea to refrain from cutting a dado that is more than 1/3 of the way through the full thickness of the wood. If you cut 2/3 of the way through, you will destabilize the strength of the wood and may accidentally bread the board before you get everything assembled.

image by: David Numan