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Dado vs router

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Forum topic by rolandstronghammer posted 05-20-2017 08:53 PM 1156 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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rolandstronghammer

49 posts in 949 days


05-20-2017 08:53 PM

I’m interested in getting a dado stack in order to cut grooves for shelves. However, I can’t see the application for a dado. Why wouldn’t you just use a router?

If there’s a good reason for a dado. Which one do I get?


17 replies so far

View JackDuren's profile

JackDuren

388 posts in 1046 days


#1 posted 05-20-2017 08:57 PM

For solid wood the dado stack works better. But routes in ply,etc the router bit works well..

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 3734 days


#2 posted 05-20-2017 08:57 PM

Dado blades cut faster. A router will cut the
joint just as well, it’s just more laborious.

View knotscott's profile

knotscott

8103 posts in 3462 days


#3 posted 05-20-2017 09:16 PM

Both work, but I prefer the larger more stable cast iron surface and power of my TS. A stacked dado set allows you really dial in the width precisely too. The Infinity set is the best of the 6 I’ve tried for so….it’s really nice. The DW/Delta 7670 set is the best of the sub-$120 sets, and it has great shim stock and a really nice case. The really cheap sets aren’t worth a darn IMO, unless your only going to use a couple of times for a sloppy application.

Not everyone has a router, so getting one just for dados may not make sense….however, having a router is a huge asset in general, whether you use it for dados or not.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View AandCstyle's profile

AandCstyle

3137 posts in 2343 days


#4 posted 05-20-2017 09:23 PM

Roland, a dado head is more versatile because it will replace router bits from 1/4” to 13/16” in 1/16” increments. Plus you have even more flexibility by using shims.

-- Art

View ksSlim's profile

ksSlim

1281 posts in 2976 days


#5 posted 05-20-2017 09:28 PM

Router table saves setup time. Unless you have 2 table saws.
Build your own router table ALA Norm. You’ll never look back.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12245 posts in 2466 days


#6 posted 05-20-2017 09:38 PM

In addition to what’s been said, the tablesaw offers greater precision and would be much faster in a production environment but for a hobbyist I don’t feel it really matters. Both can do an excellent job.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View Kazooman's profile

Kazooman

1090 posts in 2039 days


#7 posted 05-20-2017 10:00 PM

A few more points:

A router will leave a perfectly flat bottom. Some dado stacks (generally the cheaper variety) will not give a flat bottom. This can be a problem in cases where the end of the joint is exposed. Better quality dado stacks can give very clean, flat-bottomed cuts. I have an 8” Freud set and it works very well.

The router has the edge for making stopped dados. You can leave the end of the cut round or use a chisel to square it up. You can do the same with the dado stack, but much more work is required to remove the material at the end of the cut.

You mentioned you are making dados to hold shelves. I assume that these are dados cut across the width of the vertical sides of a cabinet. A hand held router with a guide could do that quite well. A dado stack on a table saw with a good tee square guide could also do well. I can’t see making that cut on most router tables.

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Madmark2

381 posts in 675 days


#8 posted 05-20-2017 10:26 PM

Logistics has a lot to do with tool selection. Neither most TS’s nor router tables have enough maw to cut a dado across the middle of a 7’ board. A hand router with a straightedge may be the only option. For box joints and such the router gives a much cleaner cut than saw blades. Learn all methods of doing tasks so you can handle whatever arises.

M

View Rich's profile

Rich

3352 posts in 676 days


#9 posted 05-20-2017 10:56 PM

For me, it’s not a matter of one or the other, but what seems like it would work best in a given situation. The majority of the time I use a router, but in something like melamine, I always set up the dado blade.

One situation where I think the router shines is routing dados for shelves in a tall case. When you’re cutting a dado near the middle of a 6 foot side, you can’t use the fence. If I did it a lot, I’d build a dedicated sled or something.

For fast setup and accurate results it’s hard to beat the Exact-Width Dado Jig free plan from Wood Magazine. Many people have put their own signature on it, like the Wood Whisperer. It has the advantage of easy setup for the dado width using the board that will fit in the dado, and a fence to ensure it’s square.

I found it clumsy clamping the original design in place, so I did a simple modification. I also plan to build a support for it, since the knobs on the underside keep it from laying flat. I’m able to make do for now without it.

Here’s the bottom view. The little tabs are my addition to improve the ability to clamp it to the board:

And the top with a board clamped in. I use small C-clamps to keep from getting in the way of the router handles:

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View Carloz's profile

Carloz

1147 posts in 678 days


#10 posted 05-20-2017 11:02 PM

Table saw is so much less messy. Also it is much more accurate when you need exact didtance from the edge and repeatable, while the router is not.
Router on the ither hand is less convenient but more versatile. You can make a slot in an assembled shelf fir exaple.

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

8297 posts in 2663 days


#11 posted 05-20-2017 11:16 PM

This 3pc set features 7/32, 31/64 and 23/32in straight 2-flute dado bits with 1/2in shanks. Perfect for any cabinet construction using typically undersized plywood.

Bits included in the set:

Whiteside SC218 – 7/32in Cutting Diameter, 3/4in Cutting Length, 2-3/4in Overall Length
Whiteside 1065A – 31/64in Cutting Diameter, 1in Cutting Length, 2-5/8in Overall Length
Whiteside 1083A – 23/32in Cutting Diameter, 1in Cutting Length, 2-1/2in Overall Length

http://www.carbideprocessors.com/3-pc-router-bit-set-for-undersize-plywood-1-2-shank-whiteside-470/

Whiteside offers undersized plywood bits for router use, I haven’t used mine yet but they’re
supposed to make the joinery go together without hassle.

I think you’ll be better off with going the router route and leave the table saw for dimensioning material.

The smaller dado set is supposed to cause less wear on the motor and bearings.
http://www.carbideprocessors.com/dado-set-6-x-30t-5t-chippers-oshlun-sds-0630/

View JackDuren's profile

JackDuren

388 posts in 1046 days


#12 posted 05-21-2017 02:50 AM



Table saw is so much less messy. Also it is much more accurate when you need exact didtance from the edge and repeatable, while the router is not.
Router on the ither hand is less convenient but more versatile. You can make a slot in an assembled shelf fir exaple.

- Carloz

A router in a table saw using the table saw extension and table saw fence is as accurate as the table saw itself…

View JackDuren's profile

JackDuren

388 posts in 1046 days


#13 posted 05-21-2017 02:54 AM

Table saw is so much less messy. Also it is much more accurate when you need exact didtance from the edge and repeatable, while the router is not.
Router on the ither hand is less convenient but more versatile. You can make a slot in an assembled shelf fir exaple.

- Carloz

- JackDuren

A router in a table saw using the table saw extension and table saw fence is as accurate as the table saw itself… I rarely pull out and use the dado set…

View rolandstronghammer's profile

rolandstronghammer

49 posts in 949 days


#14 posted 05-21-2017 10:47 AM

Well it sounds like there’s an application for both. Since I’ve already got the router I think I’ll build the jig suggested above and see how long that works. It will also enable me to cut sliding dovetails.

View Kirk650's profile

Kirk650

531 posts in 835 days


#15 posted 05-21-2017 04:33 PM

I use both methods, and have done so for many years. I have a router jig that’s set up for use with one router, and I can be set up and finished before a dado stack could be set up for use. But, if I need dado width variations, I will use the dado stack.

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