Introduction to the Dado Joint


The better technique is understood, and the better the various options available, the better use of dados in various piece can be used.  Understanding the difference in the finished look before you begins allows for the best choice of joint for the finished piece.


Dado Techniques

Router and jig, or table-saw with dado blade set?  Which method is better to dado the top and bottoms of the case to side pieces: with a dado blade or router set up with undersized plywood straight cutting bit? Looks like the router would be better than sliding your material across the table saw and possibly scratching the veneer.


Cutting Dados

Dados have been around almost as long as woodworking. This joint is nothing more than a groove sized to fit another piece of wood closely. If this sounds a lot like a rabbet, it is. The difference is that a dado has two sides where the rabbet has just one. Adding that second side increases the strength but does complicate their creation a bit.


Making Stopped Dados

Dados are a favorite joinery method of woodworkers because they are very strong, easy to make with common tools, and can be used in a wide range of applications. When trim molding or a face frame is not used, a stopped dado is often the choice to conceal the groove at the visible edge of the project.   A stopped dado is nothing more than a regular dado that ends before reaching the front edge of the piece. A notch is cut in the front edge of the shelf so it fits flush with the front edge of a cabinet, giving the visual impression of a butt joint.


Standardized Dados

Cutting dados for odd or inconsistent wood thicknesses is nothing new. A retired cabinetmaker described Standardized Dados, a technique that he used as far back as World War II and his mentors during the Depression before that. Back then, inconsistent thickness was often caused by less sophisticated manufacturing processes and shortages related to the Depression or the war effort.


6″ Vs 8″ Dado Stacks

One thing that I find myself in need of is a stack dado set. I’m wondering which I should purchase, a 6″ or 8″? And apart from the obvious (which is 2″), what is the difference in the two when in use? Also, I noticed the price of the 6″ is lower. I know this is probably a dumb question but I need to find out and hope to hear from you on the subject. Again thanks for your help in this matter and for a great program, you have instructed me on many a problem so far.


Woodworking Joinery - How to Cut a Dado

Using a dado is a very functional and strong method for connecting two pieces of stock. It is especially useful when building cabinets or bookshelves. A dado is a groove cut into one piece of wood into which another piece of wood will fit snugly. For instance, when building a bookshelf using 3/4" thick stock, one would cut a 3/4" wide groove into the shelf standard and then glue the shelf into the groove.


Dado Case Joints

The dado joint allows the load on the board to rest along the full length of the dado, thereby giving it considerable load-bearing capacity. Because the end of the board is entirely encased by the dado's sides, the board can not cup or tilt. The dado joint does not offer any protection against the shelf pulling out of the side unless glued or fastened in some manner, and because the joint involves end grain, the gluing strength is limited.  The depth of the dado has only minimal impact on the strength of the joint. The joint is designed to support a load or to control the movement of one board relative to another. If the joint must prevent the shelf from separating, then a sliding dovetail would better suit your purpose.




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