Dadoes and Rabbets, choose your weapon

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Forum topic by CB_Cohick posted 04-02-2015 01:47 PM 945 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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448 posts in 669 days

04-02-2015 01:47 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question tablesaw router joining

I am relatively new to the world of joinery. I have begun to appreciate the added strength of joints using dadoes and rabbets. As such, I am always undecided about which tool to use to create these joints. I have used both my table saw and router with satisfactory results. The setup is different for each, but I don’t see any appreciable difference in the output.

What is your weapon of choice to create rabbets and dadoes LJ’s, and why? I look forward to your wisdom of experience.

-- Chris - Would work, but I'm too busy reading about woodwork.

18 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4405 posts in 3379 days

#1 posted 04-02-2015 02:02 PM

Router here. I don’t have a dado head for my TS, but I do have a shop-made tenon jig.


View barada83's profile


76 posts in 604 days

#2 posted 04-02-2015 02:25 PM

For me, depends on what I’m doing. If it’s difficult to manage on the table saw, I have a dado router bit and track. If on the edge, typically I use the table saw and the dadonator – highly recommended.

The table saw cuts much faster than the router so batched cuts goes very quickly versus the router but the bit in the router sets up faster than the dado set in the table saw. So if doing only one, then in this case, the router would be my go to. If I was to choose one, I would have the dado set for the table saw.

-- Mike

View jmartel's profile


6464 posts in 1568 days

#3 posted 04-02-2015 03:30 PM

Rabbets on the router are super easy. Just buy a rabbeting router bit with a bearing. That’s it. Dadoes will need a jig.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View JayT's profile


4670 posts in 1629 days

#4 posted 04-02-2015 03:35 PM

Here’s my weapon of choice, when possible.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View jdh122's profile


878 posts in 2236 days

#5 posted 04-02-2015 03:42 PM

For me: a plane for a rabbet. For dados I’ve recently started doing it by hand: crosscut saw, chisel and router plane.

In the past when I was still doing them by machine, always the router for the dado, generally a tablesaw for the rabbet.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

483 posts in 1099 days

#6 posted 04-02-2015 03:46 PM

My 2cents.

Routers are faster to setup and cut one joint but you have to reset the fence after each one which takes time. A dado set takes more time to setup for the first cut but if you have to cut a bunch on different mating pieces of the same width it is faster in the long run. A router bit’s size is preset and can’t be changed so the size of your groove is determined by what bits your own unless you want to make multiple passes where a dado set can be fine tuned to nearly any size at the cost of more setup time. I am not a fan of routers in general as I find them noisy, dusty and dangerous but that’s me. I do own a couple I just tend to look for other options before I dig them out.

Cutting by hand is a lot of fun for the first few joints at least and is very quiet so is a good option if you don’t feel like dealing with noisy machines plus you get some good exercise in. For a small number of joints it’s my method of choice and if I have to a bunch of the same sized joints to cut I tend to dig out the dado stack. I rarely use the router anymore.

View NoThanks's profile


798 posts in 947 days

#7 posted 04-02-2015 03:54 PM

Call me spoiled, but I use a Her-Saf panel router for doing both.

-- Because I'm gone, that's why!

View Greg In Maryland's profile

Greg In Maryland

550 posts in 2416 days

#8 posted 04-03-2015 12:58 AM

Call me spoiled, but I use a Her-Saf panel router for doing both.

- Iwud4u


View waho6o9's profile


7115 posts in 1995 days

#9 posted 04-03-2015 01:34 AM

Layout your dadoes and rabbets on a 4×8 sheet

router them out with a track rail and rip to size with

a track saw. Done.

View WoodNSawdust's profile


1417 posts in 595 days

#10 posted 04-03-2015 01:41 AM

As with most things in life it depends.

For dados on long pieces I use a hand held router and a router guide sorta like a track saw

For a couple of quick grooves, dados on short pieces, or rabbets I use the router

If I need to do a lot or want the highest quality (i.e. the groove, dado, or rabbet will be seen) I used a stacked dado set on the table saw.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View bandit571's profile (online now)


14051 posts in 2101 days

#11 posted 04-03-2015 01:47 AM

Wards #78

Saw and chisel.

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

View MT_Stringer's profile


2818 posts in 2649 days

#12 posted 04-03-2015 02:02 AM

Router for me. Mainly because I want an exact width dado and don’t need the hassle of trying to figure out the combo of blades and shims on the table saw (which I have done more than once).

I use an exact width dado jig that is wide enough to span two upper cabinet sides laid side by side or a single base cabinet side. A 1/2 inch pattern bit makes the cut. I usually make two passes cutting away 1/8th inch each time. 1/4 inch is good for me. The plywood fits perfect every time.

For rabbets, I have a cutter that came with a set of bearings so I can cut different widths up to 1/2 inch simply by changing the bearing. Same thing, I make a couple of passes because I am skeered of tear-out. :-)

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View unbob's profile


692 posts in 1322 days

#13 posted 04-03-2015 02:02 AM

For rebates, coping cuts, Shaper is where I ended up. I simply want things to fit without gaps, and I want it Now.
This shaper is of European type- fine adjustable and Repeatable fence, and cutter height. I bought the machine for $700, and it came with a bunch of cutters.

View joey502's profile


482 posts in 936 days

#14 posted 04-03-2015 02:12 AM

handheld router for the dado and router table for the rabbets. I do have a stack dado set but rarely use it.

Reason for my choice are simple:
23/32 router bit and small plywood jig for case sides using plywood. 1/4, 1/2, 5/8” bits for other sizes as needed.

View barada83's profile


76 posts in 604 days

#15 posted 04-03-2015 03:20 AM

I do rabbets all the time on the table saw with the dado set. I just drop on a sacrificial fence and let it rip.

-- Mike

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