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Doing Dadoes - Router or Table Saw?

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  • Doing Dadoes - Router or Table Saw?

    I have usually done my dadoes using my router.

    The advantage to using the router is that you have a specific bity for the size dado you need -- just install a 3/4" bit or a 23/32" bit for plywood, and the cut is always on target. I have a jig (actually just a piece of melamine cut for each size bit with a straight-edge screwed onto it). The drawback to using the router for dadoes is you have to do three passes for each dado. If you're building a large bookshelf, three passes is quite a chore!

    Well, I am about to buy a TS3612, and I'm thinking I'll start doing dadoes on the table saw. But I have no experience with a table saw dado blade. So, here are my questions:
    1. Is it difficult to set a dado blade to be exactly 3/4" or 23/32"?
    2. What dado blades do you recommend?
    3. Are there any safety considerations pertaining to dado blades I should be aware of?

    Or maybe I should keep using the router for dadoes?

    Thanks everyone!

  • #2
    You'll find the need to do some dado's on the router table still. One's that intersect to a "T", or are offset are better done on a router table or using a guide. Straight through end to ends are fast and easy on the table saw with a dado stack. But if you are like me and sometimes can't afford the best material, warpped panels are hard to get a consistant depth with a dado stack. Best to use the guide and router.

    A good dado stack (stay away from wobblers!) comes with shims to get you dialed in to just about any width you want. I'd also recommend staying away from the 6" diameter ones. Get a quality name 8", plan on about 100 bucks. Sounds like alot, but you can dial in from 1/4" to 13/16" in about .005" using the shims. How much would that many router bits cost?

    There is always alternatives to doing the same task. It's a mater of which is the safest in my opinion. Followed 2nd by productivity.
    John E. Adams<br /><a href=\"\" target=\"_blank\"></a>


    • #3
      I use a Dado Stack with 42T outer blades and 6T chippers. As John has indicated, this allows you, with the shims provided, to get you to 13/16". In a variety of materials/stock(hardwoods, ply, MDF) you end up with a totally smooth bottom, if this is what you're after.

      I bought the Ridgid Dado/Molder insert. However, after using the stack on ply, I would now create my own zero clearance insert for a "standard" ply dado 23/32", to avoid any possibility of tearing.

      Dado's are just larger chunks of metal to avoid at all costs. No more, no less than standard blades or bits. Keep away from them, using common sense and normal precautions. I usually feel safer around dado stacks, since they usually sit so low in the table, and look so powerful, that I just tend to have a greater respect for them.

      I use the HF 42T/6T set which runs at $30. It's C2 carbide that will need sharpening earlier than the usual C3. It's also the set that a number of vendors/suppliers list and brand for $50-$70. Chinese of course!!



      • #4
        I use a router exclusively. In fact, I gave my set of dado blades away.

        In the bookcase you cited, I would generally use 3/4" sides. Dado depth of 3/8". I cut those in one pass with a large bit like a 1/2" or 3/4". The rule of thumb I was taught is to not cut deeper in a pass than the diameter of the bit. In the case of a 3/4", I would not cut a full 3/4", that begins to be hard work for the router and me. But 3/8", I find no problem.

        What I won't do is buy a deliberate "plywood" bit. In the Dallas market, finding plywood of any precise dimension just doesn't happen. I'll either cut 1/2" dadoes and house the mating piece, or make two passes for the thickness of the plywood.



        • #5
          I find that true as well Dave. Plywood isn't very consistant. However, I find that true with solid wood as well sometimes, but a lot less than plywood.
          John E. Adams<br /><a href=\"\" target=\"_blank\"></a>


          • #6
            For me it depends on what I am making. Bookcases, or where stopped dados are needed, are easy choices for the router. But casework where you are putting together the frame for a dresser or cabinets, are simply quicker with the table saw. The table saw set up (particularly if I had the 3624 - I am still using my TS2424) is also a bit quicker for that type of work.

            As to the dado set, I bought the Freud set and have been happy with it. As far as incremental safety concerns, I would always read the directions and precautions that come with the tools but specifically remember to tighten the blade nut (search previous threads about hand-tighten for ordinary blades and need to tighten down dado blades with the wrench) and keep firm hold of the workpiece.

            You will find that much of woodworking really depends on how particular you are. I have made some real nice pieces without sweating too much of the small stuff. That is mostly because I do all my work between 5 and 7 am before my day job. If I had all day, or even all of a weekend day, it would be a lot easier to fine tune the work.

            Dave, I give you credit my friend, I don't think I have the time or patience to do it all with a router.


            • #7
              I too agree with you dave. I recently bought a set of 8" freud dado blades and wasn't happy with the lack of smoothness in the dado. Mounted my router on my table saw, use my rip fence from the saw and started cutting cross grain dado's and they are crisp and sharp. The cross cutting with the dado chipped away too much of the veneer face. I am also using 3/4" veneer, and 3/8" dado depth, and like you that isn't too much for my router in one pass. after using both in the past month I am much happier using the router in a table. I think it is probably just a personal preference.