Dado vs Router

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Forum topic by MrRon posted 04-14-2014 04:27 PM 6417 views 2 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5277 posts in 3484 days

04-14-2014 04:27 PM

Topic tags/keywords: joining router tablesaw tip

There are two ways to make a groove in wood; a dado blade on a table saw and a straight bit in a router, either hand held or in a table. Some like to use the router for this job, but the problems that can happen has made the dado blade my tool of choice.
With the variation in thickness of both plywood and solid wood, a router bit rarely cuts a perfect fit to suit the thickness variation; either it’s too tight or too sloppy. The adjustability of the dado blade allows for perfect fits. Routers can slip and un-intentionally cut an oversize groove. The router is a great tool, but for cutting grooves, the dado blade wins hands down. Off course if a table saw is not available, the router has to be used. The only drawback with the dado blade is the time it takes to set it up, which usually requires taking test cuts on scrap and making adjustments.

27 replies so far

View bigblockyeti's profile


5319 posts in 1961 days

#1 posted 04-14-2014 04:31 PM

I too prefer to use a dado (stacked) to achieve a more precise slot cut at greater speed with less tool wear. I’ve found the only situation that makes this more difficult is when cross cutting slots in a work piece that is very long.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Danpaddles's profile


573 posts in 2553 days

#2 posted 04-14-2014 04:33 PM


Sometimes, for me, it comes down to what is mounted where. If the bit is already in the router table- no brainer.

If you want infinite widths with a router, take two passes, step over a smidge to get the width you want.

-- Dan V. in Indy

View pintodeluxe's profile


5819 posts in 3054 days

#3 posted 04-14-2014 04:56 PM

I agree, dados on the tablesaw are easier to control. I will try to dado at the tablesaw first, but some projects like bookcases, are often too long for the tablesaw so I use an exact-width dado jig (credit to Woodsmith Magazine).

Or once in a while I will use my undersized plywood bit.

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

View bandit571's profile


22026 posts in 2924 days

#4 posted 04-14-2014 05:01 PM

Well, there is a third way to do these

Adjust the fence to the desired distance, and just plough away. makes kind of a Schweeeesh sound….

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View neverenougftackle's profile


195 posts in 2087 days

#5 posted 04-14-2014 05:08 PM

A couple of decades ago I seem to have goten into making several shelves there one after the other…ran into the very same delima that you are describing now happing to you. Right about this time Shopnotes Magazine came out with their Self adjusting Dado Jig. It has long been one of the best, and most used jigs that I have ever made. It is supper !!!!!

Any size of wood placed into this ,one piece adjustable jig, your router and bit will cut to fit,, blank TIGHT !!!!! There are now several on line woodworkers claming this is their jig, but Shopnotes came out with it first,,so who else can say it is theirs? Do not know how to post a picture of mine, BUT. Check it out it is well worth you time invested in making one.

View bondogaposis's profile


5155 posts in 2592 days

#6 posted 04-14-2014 06:54 PM

There are advantages to using both methods. The table saw method is generally faster to set up and execute. However on plywood tear out can be a problem. I like to use the router for plywood because of that, and if you use the Woodsmith dado jig you can adjust the width of the dado to exact thickness of the plywood. You can also route both sides of a cabinet at the same time to assure perfect alignment a gain back a little of the setup time over the table saw method and of course stopped dadoes are easier w/ the router as well.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View neverenougftackle's profile


195 posts in 2087 days

#7 posted 04-14-2014 07:02 PM

Ok !!!!! bondogaposis thats the jig I tried to tell ya’all about. Shopnotes and Woodsmith are sister companies. My bad but in defense Shopnotes away back there was the jig & fixture making side, while Woodsmith was the cabinets/furniture/beds/ kind’ah stuff side. Thanks for showing that pdf bondogaposis.

Hey how do you like that jig ???

View RockyTopScott's profile


1186 posts in 3719 days

#8 posted 04-14-2014 07:49 PM

I use a dado stack unless it is a stop dado then I use a router.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View MrRon's profile


5277 posts in 3484 days

#9 posted 04-14-2014 09:04 PM

I have made similar jigs before, but they are usually one off. I scrap them after use. This jig looks like a keeper. I’ll make one for the next time I use the router.

View falatocpa's profile


51 posts in 2372 days

#10 posted 04-14-2014 09:14 PM

For cutting straight through, I agree the dado is probably better, but if you’re going for a blind front on your grove/dado I think you’re stuck with the router.

View ohtimberwolf's profile


882 posts in 2593 days

#11 posted 04-14-2014 09:24 PM

Bondo, thanks for the pdf. It saves me going back and hunting through my old magazines. I just went through that to find the #88 issue for the panel saw build. larry

-- Just a barn cat, now gone to cat heaven.

View knotscott's profile


8183 posts in 3616 days

#12 posted 04-14-2014 10:28 PM

I’m with you….I do use the router on occasion when it makes sense, but most of the time I use a dado stack on the saw.

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

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 3472 days

#13 posted 04-14-2014 10:53 PM

I have used the table saw with stacked dado and the router with an adjustable width jig. Good results from both.

Need to cross cut some dadoes in shelf boards. An adjustable cross cut sled will let you make zero clearance cuts with a dado blade, and quickly too.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View changeoffocus's profile


467 posts in 1858 days

#14 posted 04-14-2014 10:54 PM

I got the source pasted below from Horizontal Mike recently and have it almost finished. I think it is the one that others referenced.
It’s a great site and free‎

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2931 days

#15 posted 04-15-2014 01:08 AM

I use that Shop Notes/Woodsmith router jig and the dados always come out a perfect fit.

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

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