Dado cut with rip fence AND miter gauge ??

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Forum topic by jlar310 posted 03-22-2013 08:44 AM 3512 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 2110 days

03-22-2013 08:44 AM

First post—go easy on me.

I’ve been looking at some techniques for making simple shop furniture drawers. The design I’ve chosen is a dado in the sides paired with a rabbet in the fronts and backs.

I’ve seen a lot of how-to pictures on the web of alleged experts cutting dadoes (or tenons) on the short side of a board using both the full length of the fence and the miter gauge. This seems to break all of the safety rules that I have learned in my (very) short time as a table saw owner. Is there something about this particular setup that makes it safe enough, or is this just one of those cases where you break the rules to get repeatable accurate cuts for drawers? While there is no offcut to get wedged, it seems the risk of kickback due to accidentally twisting the workpiece would be quite high.

Is this just not as dangerous as it looks? Or should I really be using a stop block on the fence before the blade as you would with a through crosscut?

-- Jeff, Saint Paul

6 replies so far

View knotscott's profile


8145 posts in 3573 days

#1 posted 03-22-2013 09:46 AM

I’d definitely use the stop block on the fence. It’s easy to do, and it heavily reduces the chance of kickback.

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

View mdawson2's profile


35 posts in 2170 days

#2 posted 03-22-2013 12:20 PM

Norm always uses a stop block when cutting dadoes with the miter gauge. I’d trust Norm!

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2307 days

#3 posted 03-22-2013 12:37 PM

I’ll go against the grain…

Through cuts? Absolutely, YES! on a standoff block, when using the fence and a crosscut guide together, to set the length of the part.

Dados? No need for a standoff. Since the blade is buried in the stock, the rising teeth that cause kickback don’t have the same purchase against the wood. In fact, if the work is something like a cabinet side, I’ll go so far as to say you’re better off without it, allowing the entire edge to remain in contact with the fence. The formal schools I’m familiar with, where it’s bad for both business and the insurance premium to have students injured, teach it this way.

+1 on a dado sled being far better than a miter gauge. Another nice feature of the sled is that you can counterweight it when doing long parts, as well as force slightly bowed stock flat against the floor. More than once, I’ve whipped up a sled on the spot, for a specific project.

View JesseTutt's profile


854 posts in 2308 days

#4 posted 03-22-2013 01:00 PM

I use a push block instead of the miter gauge. My push block is about 12” square with a plastic handle screwed on top. I hold the piece to be cut tight against the front of the push block and hold both tight against the fence. I have used this on both the table saw for dados and the router table for edge profiles on the end of a piece with no problems.

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3111 days

#5 posted 03-22-2013 01:24 PM

+10 on building and using a TS sled for this type of cut. You will also find a sled very useful for many other cuts…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View jdmaher's profile


437 posts in 2777 days

#6 posted 03-22-2013 02:05 PM

For small pieces (like drawer sides), I use a stop block and an adjusted (perfect 90 degree) miter gauge with a auxiliary fence (at least 1/4 inch short of the stop block and at least as long as the drawer side). And I hold the piece firmly to the fence, being careful not to lose concentration and get sloppy if I’m cutting a dozen or so pieces.

For large pieces (like cabinet sides), I just use the fence. So long as the piece is big enough that I feel confident its inertia will keep it moving, I just focus on keeping the edge tight to the fence and my hands far away from the action.

But I have done some medium size boxes where the pieces were more like panels, and then I used a sled – and toggles to hold the piece down.

For me, its all about control. What do I need to use to hold the piece steady with my hands away from the blade?

But, if you are relatively inexperienced and have not yet built a sled, use this as an excuse to do so. Definitely the best and most important accessory for my tablesaw. And its more fun to build than it is to buy one (though I also own a Dubby).

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

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