The following is an addition to The Apprentice and The Journeyman woodworking video series, Let’s Build.
The dedicated dado sled for the table saw is a highly versatile woodworking shop fixture that can expand the woodworking approaches used by many woodworkers. Dado blades are used on the table saw instead of a typical saw blade and the dado blades are often said to be “stacked.” This term implies that the dado blades, chippers, and shims are combined to create a certain width. For example, a width of a dado may be determined by the thickness of shelves in a bookcase that will fit into the dado. Perhaps you have a woodworking project where you are building a chest of drawers and the top, bottom, and sides are rabbeted at a certain width to seat a 1/4” back panel. In these cases a dado sled could serve you very well to create the rabbets. As you can imagine this table saw accessory can be very useful to the cabinet maker, the custom furniture maker, or the typical woodworker as the dado widths can be adjusted up to 13/16”.
Joinery that can be cut with this table saw sled include: slots, dadoes, grooves, half-laps, rabbets, and finger joints. Also, you can even make your own dentil moulding for a cornice with the dado sled. A reference key is set up on the dado sled fence to control the equal spacing of the dentils just as it is done for creating finger joints. The adjustable dado spacing feature is an add-on to the basic dado sled, however you will find it very easy to build and quite useful.
Take incremental passes with the dado blade to increase the depth of cut. How much material you remove at one time will depend upon the density of the material being cut.
A dado set may be purchased as a “stacked” set or an adjustable wobble set.
Most dado blades sold today are carbide saw blades.
Dado saw blades can be used in the table saw or radial arm saw.
Dado blades work well on hardwoods, soft woods, and sheet goods. Use the instruction manual that comes with the dado blade set as a guide.
Dado sleds are economical to build and are highly effective for production work.
Set the dado sled for zero clearance for safety and to avoid tear-out.
(If you have made a wide dado and now want a narrow dado.)To create a fresh zero clearance you can simply layer the the top of the sled’s base with a thin sheet plywood or MDF. Make sure to firmly attach the new surface to the existing sled with screws or double stick tape.
On the fence directly in front of the operator there is a 4” x 4” block of wood. This is installed as a constant reminder of the spinning blades of the dado blade. The top of the block is elevated far above the blades and can serve as a handle for pushing and pulling the dado sled. Always use caution and think safety first.
The dado set used in the above woodworking video is the Freud SD508 Super 8-inch Stack Dado. The set includes 2 blades, a shim set, 6 chippers, and a protective case. The blades are eight inch, 24-tooth blades for table saws with 5/8” arbors.
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-- Bob Simmons, Las Vegas, NV, http://TheApprenticeandTheJourneyman.com