Dado Dilemma

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Forum topic by SnowyRiver posted 01-19-2010 06:31 AM 3575 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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51457 posts in 3509 days

01-19-2010 06:31 AM

I am building a cabinet using 1/4 QS white oak plywood and I would like to use a dado to hold the plywood panel between the 3/4 inch stiles. The panel will be separated by a rail in the middle of each side. The cabinet sides are just 11 inches wide so the strenght of the plywood isnt an issue.

Now, if you have followed me so far, here is my dilemma.

The 1/4 inch plywood actually measures 3/16 inch. My stacked dado blade minimum cut is 1/4 inch. I think the extra 1/16 will creat too much slop in the joint. Also, if I did cut a 3/16 dado using multiple passes with just a standard TS blade, the smallest mortise bit I can get for my machine is 1/4 inch so the mortise wouldnt really work either. I could use two 3/16 plywood panels (glue them together maybe) to create a 3/8 inch wide panel then cut a dado at 3/8 and use the 3/8 mortise bit I suppose. The only issue here might be that I wouldnt have as much offset between the panels and the stiles.

What would you do? I hope this post makes sense :-)

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

9 replies so far

View Woodenwizard's profile


1331 posts in 3072 days

#1 posted 01-19-2010 06:38 AM

I am assuming the dado is on the edge of the stiles and rails. I use a lot of 1/4 ply in my projects and when I need to cut a dado so the ply fits just right I set up the table saw with a 1/8 kerf blade. set the fense to the correct spot and run the piece through then flip it end for end and run it trough a second time. If the table saw fense is set correctly you will have a nice fitting dado exactly in the center. This is the method I used on the blanket chest I just posted.

Hope this helps.

-- John, Colorado's (Wooden Wizard)

View sparks's profile


62 posts in 3118 days

#2 posted 01-19-2010 06:45 AM

That is also the way I have done it.

-- Sparks

View Andrew's profile


709 posts in 3227 days

#3 posted 01-19-2010 01:06 PM

You could buy the menards chisels (cheap, tool shop) and grind down the 1/4 inch to 3/16 ans hand cut the mortises.

-- Even a broken clock is right twice a day, unless, it moves at half speed like ....-As the Saw Turns

View Fireguy's profile


132 posts in 3264 days

#4 posted 01-19-2010 02:56 PM

Cut the dado with your router and a 3/16” bit.

-- Alex

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3229 days

#5 posted 01-19-2010 04:29 PM

Hey Snowy, You need to check out MLCS and their up cut spiral bits. They go down to a 1/8” in diameter. They were originally designed for pin routing but I like the clean cuts they make for dado’s. Here, take a look.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3509 days

#6 posted 01-19-2010 05:08 PM

Thanks for all the good suggestions folks. After studying this until midnight last night I think I will just double the plywood panel. Couple of reasons for this decision. I cant find 1/4 ply here in town that is actually 1/4 inch. Also, (this is a tall clock project) the plan calls for the good side of the ply to face out, but I think when the door is open, you will be able to see the inside of the clock case, so it would be nice to have a nice finish on the inside too. Also, by doubling the panel width, I can have two good sides, and I can use my dado blade and mortise machine to cut the mortise and tenons. I was thinkiing that a 3/16 tenon isnt too thick anyway, and a thicker tenon probably would be a bit stronger.

I was looking at my mortise chisels and if I bought a cheep chisel, I dont know that I could grind it down 1/16 inch without compromising the chisel. I think a router would work, probably best if I had a router table, but I think it would be difficult to clamp the stiles down and get the dado straight since the stiles are only
1 1/4 inchs wide.

Good forum…thanks for the help.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Chiefwoodworker's profile


149 posts in 3407 days

#7 posted 01-19-2010 05:52 PM


This sounds like a perfect application for hardwood panels. You can mill them to exactly 1/4” and have beautiful grain on both sides. If you are concerned about expansion/contraction use Spaceballs to keep the panel centered.

-- Joe.....

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3509 days

#8 posted 01-19-2010 06:25 PM

I think you are right Joe. I wish I had found this issue before purchasing all of the lumber. I have the ply and boards already so I think I will try to make a go of it with what I have. The ply was about $85 for the sheet so might as well use it at this point. :-)

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View poopiekat's profile


4356 posts in 3763 days

#9 posted 01-19-2010 06:44 PM

I’ve made narrow dadoes by altering the ‘set’ of the teeth on a conventional table saw blade. It was perfect for a 5/32” slot I needed, I’m sure 3/16” would be attainable this way. I wouldn’t wreck a good blade to do this, though.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

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