This is your Introduction to the Dado Blade – What it is and How to Use it. In this post, you will learn exactly what a dado blade is, what it’s used for, and when you need it.
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What is a Dado Blade?
The easiest way to think of a dado blade is a stack of table saw blades that allow you to cut a wide slice through a piece of wood. However, dado blades are most often used to create slots of different widths.
Think of a regular table saw blade, which is typically about an eighth of an inch wide. When you cut a slot in a piece of wood, the slot is about an eighth of an inch wide as well. If you had three of those blades stacked together, you could cut a 3/8 inch wide slot.
This is the basic principle behind a dado blade, and in most situations it’s two blades with chippers in the middle that clear out the space in between them. They are adjustable, and can be tuned to many different widths.
Common Uses for a Dado Blade
A dado blade is a super useful tool to have in your shop. It goes on your table saw, and allows you to create different size slots in pieces of wood. These can be used for a number of different woodworking applications.
First, dados can be used for assembly. If you have to put shelves or other pieces of wood in between panels, you can run a dado around those panels that’s the same width as the thickness of the table or shelf.
At that point, all you need to do is slide that piece into the dadoes, and it will be held very securely. Add a little glue and some brad nails, and your assembly is complete.
You can also use dadoes as part of old fashion drawer slides. Attach a rail to each side of the drawer, and then those sticks can slide right in a couple of dadoes on the carcass of the piece.
If you create a dado on the edge of a board, and it’s open on one side, this is called a rabbet. You can also use a dado blade for that purpose.
See Also: Tall Table Saw Fence for Re-Sawing
Best Tool for Making a Dado
The absolute best tool that you can use for making dadoes is the tablesaw. Though you can use other tools, like a router or a router table, the tablesaw generally makes it very easy, especially with a dado blade set.
Also, most woodworkers tend to have a tablesaw in their shop. This means that all you’ll have to do is pick up a nice dado set that fits your particular arbor, and you’ll be good to go.
This saves you money, because you don’t have to buy any type of specialty tool in order to run the dado blade. You already have the saw, so you’ve already spent the money.
Alternative Dado Making Techniques
If you don’t have a tablesaw and you’re looking for an alternative method of creating dadoes, then turn to your router or your router table. Both of these are powered options that can make dadoes with the right bits.
It’s going to be easier to do this process on a router table, because you can use the guide fence to help keep everything straight. However, you can also set up a guide for the hand router as well, and to keep your dado straight that’s definitely what I recommend.
You can also create dadoes very carefully using a chisel, though this method can be very time-consuming. It can also drive you nuts if you’re not very good at working with a chisel, so I recommend a power version when available.
Dado Blade Tips and Tricks
Here are some tips and tricks to working with a dado blade that can help you when the time comes to actually use the item in your shop:
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- Make sure you test your dadoes first before you actually commit to cutting on your actual project. Sometimes, fine adjustments need to be made.
- Definitely don’t buy the cheapest dado blade set that you’ve ever ran into before, but you also don’t need the most expensive one yet either. The middle of the road is usually your best place to be.
- Practice with your blade set by creating dadoes of different widths in different depths. Get a good idea for how the tool works before you have to use it on the real thing.
Buying a Good Dado Blade Set
There are sets that are better for sure, but you absolutely don’t need those at this point. Right now you just need a reliable way to make dado cuts and begin incorporating this building technique into your repertoire.
Don’t delay this purchase until you can afford a $500 dado set. It’s definitely an awesome set for 500 bucks, and it better be for that kind of money, but as a beginner, you’ll be surprised what you can do with $100 Dado Blade Set.
Your Action Assignment
Now that you know the definition of a dado blade, and all the different things that you can do with it, it’s time to get out into your shop and take action. If you don’t have a dado blade, pick one up, you’ll be glad you did.
The first thing you need to do when you get home is start making some different cuts and checking out how the tool works. Obviously review all your safety precautions for so you know what you’re doing, but then start getting your practice in as soon as possible.
Once you’re comfortable making the different cuts, you’ll be very happy to have this extra capability at your disposal. You’ll find many different ways to use it, and it will definitely pay itself back right away.
If you have any questions about dado blades, please post a question and I’ll be glad to answer them. Happy building.
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