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Routing Dadoes for Cabinetry (hint: wrong size)

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Forum topic by SomeClown posted 03-02-2013 05:12 AM 1211 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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SomeClown

63 posts in 1735 days


03-02-2013 05:12 AM

Topic tags/keywords: plywood kitchen cabinet dado

Hey Everyone,

I’m sure this has been discussed a few million times, so forgive me if I’m beating the proverbial dead horse, but I’m having dado problems.

To wit:

I’m building cabinets out of Baltic Birch, pretty good grade, nice stuff from the local Borg store. At least it’s as nice as they carry, with a price to match. I’ve gotten my pieces cut and am ready to cut dadoes in for the tops, bottoms, and one shelf in the middle. Then I’ll do face frames, etc. My goal here is to make them for the garage but get some good practice in before tackling the kitchen.

I don’t have a dado stack for my table saw, and I don’t have my router plane yet (Mmmm… Lie Nielson). What I do have is a pretty nice shop-built router table (posted in my projects quite a while back) with some Freud Quadra-cut bits… including a nice 3/4” one. Yay! It’s a bit fiddly to get the depth right, but I can kind of sneak up on the 1/4” or so I want and it’s pretty good… nothing my block plane won’t fix.

The problem? Yup… you all guessed it just from the title. My plywood is too small (that’s what she said). It is, if my calipers are to be believed, almost exactly 1/8” under. #$! Luckily I’m at least learning something and was testing all of my dadoes on crappy plywood first.

What to do, what to do? I’ve heard tell (and I think I’ve even seen them in passing somewhere) of so-called “plywood” router bits. Do those work well? Is that what folks here do?

-- There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don't.


12 replies so far

View ShaneA's profile

ShaneA

5456 posts in 1353 days


#1 posted 03-02-2013 05:24 AM

Do you have a 1/2” bit. You can run the dado at that width, then rabbet the tongue to fit that, is one way

View rockindavan's profile

rockindavan

285 posts in 1391 days


#2 posted 03-02-2013 05:42 AM

Woodwhisperer has a good video on an exact width dado jig.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7j4vGS4HY-8

Its the most versatile option.

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

3580 posts in 1568 days


#3 posted 03-02-2013 06:03 AM

I have an undersized 3/4” plywood bit. Even that doesn’t gaurantee a snug fit.
I use the Woodsmith version of the exact width dado jig. It is like the Wood Whisperer jig, except you don’t need a guide bushing. It works very well, and cuts clean dados in plywood. http://www.woodsmithshop.com/download/204/adjustabledadojig.pdf

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View SomeClown's profile

SomeClown

63 posts in 1735 days


#4 posted 03-02-2013 06:12 AM

Well, I’m liking the two jigs, though that means I’ll have to go buy another router, which I was hoping to avoid. Both look like versatile solutions, but neither one lets me assemble cabinets tomorrow after a quick trip to my local Rockler or Woodcraft store.

-- There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don't.

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

3580 posts in 1568 days


#5 posted 03-02-2013 06:18 AM

Why do you need to buy another router? Just grab the one from your router table.
Or maybe get a dado set for the TS?

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View SomeClown's profile

SomeClown

63 posts in 1735 days


#6 posted 03-02-2013 06:22 AM

I could do that, I suppose… but the one in the router table is mounted in a lift and it was a PITA to get squeezed in there in the first place. Taking it out again, then putting it back, etc. sounds like the kind of thing that might drive me to drink…

I’ll just tell my wife that you all recommended that I buy a new tool… ;)

-- There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don't.

View nwbusa's profile

nwbusa

1017 posts in 1041 days


#7 posted 03-02-2013 08:01 AM

Real Baltic birch comes in metric sizes, so what is commonly called 3/4” is actually 18 mm. If yours measures about 5/8” then it’s probably 15 mm. I second the recommendation for a dado stack—easiest tool to fine tune for a precise fit. Good luck.

-- John, BC, Canada

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

11564 posts in 1445 days


#8 posted 03-03-2013 03:30 AM

I cut most of my dados on the TS using a Freud box cutter set and multiple passes to sneak up on a perfect fit.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View JesseTutt's profile

JesseTutt

811 posts in 866 days


#9 posted 03-03-2013 03:44 AM

If you have patience, you can cut the dados without needing a dado set or a router. Just make multiple passes with your table saw moving the fence with each cut.

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

View pwalter's profile

pwalter

78 posts in 1339 days


#10 posted 03-03-2013 03:58 AM

I like the first answer Shane gave you. Route a 1/2” dado and a tongue on the edge of the 3/4” plywood so it fits. Should work out really well for you. The woodwhisperer actually talks about it in a tool cabinet video he did here

View SomeClown's profile

SomeClown

63 posts in 1735 days


#11 posted 03-03-2013 04:08 AM

So, all of these things are great ideas and I’ll probably implement more than one solution in the future. As it stands now, however, the local Woodcraft sale today sucked me in. I ended up getting a set of 3 Freud plywood bits, along with assorted other whatnots, and put them to use. Turns out that the 23/32” works great, tight fit, etc. That’s on this Birch I have which seems very consistent (was under by 1/32” by the by… I was reading my calipers wrong last night).

Already dry-fitted the carcases and all is tight and great. Spent the next hour laying out my next sheet so I can get enough for two more tops, two shelves, and two backs. That gives me two complete carcases at about 30”High x 28” Wide x 18” Deep. Then to glue, blocking, etc., and then off to start the face frame (probably do pocket screws to join, then biscuits to join face frame to cabinet).

So far everything was almost dead-on square during dry fit. Fingers crossed it stays that way during the whole project. :)

-- There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don't.

View BilltheDiver's profile

BilltheDiver

234 posts in 1641 days


#12 posted 03-03-2013 04:11 AM

Or use your 1/2 inch bit for the first cut, then move the fence the appropriate amount to expand the dado to the size you need.

-- "Measure twice, cut once, count fingers"

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