What is a Dado Blade Used For: Learn How To Install Them

Simply put, a dado blade, sometimes called a dado set, is a type of circular saw blade used to make three-sided dadoes cuts, cabinetry, dividers, and a wide variety of different woodworking projects.

They can also be used on table saws or radial arm saws for cross-cutting. The dado blades job is to create slots for components to interlock, such as door panels or drawer sides.

How Do Dado Blades Work?

To fully appreciate how the blade works, you first must understand how it is designed. The dado blade is not much different from a regular saw blade. This blade creates the outline of the groove.

Sandwiched between are two chipper blades and just as it sounds, it chips the wood away to create a channel with a clean flush bottom. There is, however, another form called a wobble dado blade. Below we will explain the difference: –

Stacked Dado – Stacked dado blades have two outer blades that have more teeth than the chippers that sit between them.

It is important that one of these outer blades are installed on each side of the stack. Most sets will include four eighth inch thick chippers.

One chipper that is 1/16 of an inch thick and one that is three thirty-seconds of an inch thick along with one 1/8-inch-thick outer blades. This selection of thickness lets you set up for just about any kind of wood thickness you are going to need.

Pro: High precision clean cuts —  Con: On the pricey side

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Wobble Blade – A Wobble blade, sometimes referred to as an adjustable style dado blade is just a single that is tilted on the arbor, which gives you an offset rotation.

You are still going to cut a wide grove but with just a single blade. On the single blade is a center dial that allows for infinite adjustments within a range, which you can use to adjust your desired cut width, allowed for a custom cut.

Pro: Affordability & Easy width adjustment. Con: Less accurate and may cause vibrations

What common joints can you create with a dado blade?

With these blades, there are many joints that can be created. Some of these include:

  1. Dado

Dado joints are easy to make using a table saw and are commonly used when designing bookshelves, cabinets, and alike.

Making them one of the roughest joins around, the dado joint has a 3-sided channel that runs through the woodgrain. This specific design advantage is that it creates a rough resistant connection and allows you to slot in fitting pieces of wood before screwing them together.

  1. Rabbet

A rabbet joint is a simple joint, in which cuts are made at the end of a workpiece. It provides mechanical strength and alignment of your structure because it prevents side to side movement. These joints are generally used when creating boxes to cabinets.

  1. Finger

Finger joints, also called comb joints to appear like fingers across the wood. This is because they consist of multiple channels. Finger joints interlock to create a sturdy intersection. Woodworkers may also like to add in finger joints for decorative purposes, however, it’s most common use is for joining longboards together.

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  1. Tenon and Mortise

A tenon and Mortise is a joint that most resembles a USB port. This is because they consist of a square (tenon), which is then inserted into another matching square. They are one of the most stable and strongest joints next to the dovetail joint.

  1. Tongue and Groove

A tongue and groove joint is generally used when wanting a sturdy fit between similar objects (such as floorboards and panels). However, they still allow for the wood to expand and contract all awhile still maintaining structural integrity.

  1. Half-Lap

A half-lap joint is often used when making dust dividers in cabinets or picture frames. They are created by cutting channels at the edge of the middle of a wooden block and ensures that no extra thickness is added to the intersection.

How To Install a Dado Blade?

Unplug The Machine

Before attempting to install your dado blade set, it is important that you ensure your power tool is unplugged. Always remember to wear appropriate protective gear. Remove your saw guard and throat plate.

Pop The Safety On The Blade

Once your blades are exposed and you can see all of the parts, pop the safety on the blade up so that when you remove the arbor nut you can also pull the blade off. With a wrench loosen the nut and remove it (be careful not to drop it) and slide your blade off.

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Remove Blade Guards

Dado blades are smaller than your standard 10-inch blade. Most dado blades are around 8 inches which means the blade guard mount you have may stick out too high.

You may need to remove your blade guard also. To remove your blade guard, use an Allen wrench, remove the two screws from the blade guard.  Now you are ready to install your dado blades.

Installation

Step 1 – Your dado blades will have a back and front. It is important that you follow the manufactures instructions written on the blade. It will tell you which side needs to be facing outwards.

Step 2 – Once you have installed your first blade, begin adding in your chipper blades to your desired width along with the washer and nut. It is important to remember that the teeth of the blades are not aligned with one another. Otherwise, they can cause damage to your material or yourself.

Step 3 – You may find that the dado blade does not fit through the whole of your original throat plate. Which is why it is important to know the width you are trying to achieve before installing. It can be easier just to buy a dado blade throat plate.

Step 4 – Now that you have your dado blade installed, begin winding your blades down to the depth you require.

Conclusion 

In short, wobble and dado blades are very useful woodworking instruments because they help create professional-looking joints for various woodworking projects.

Also, remember safety first when working with any power tool and follow the recommended manufacture instructions on use.

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