• Wed. Dec 6th, 2023

How to Cut a Dado with a Router: The Definitive Guide

Alejandra Reynoso

ByAlejandra Reynoso

Oct 5, 2023

When it comes to woodworking, one of the most essential skills to master is cutting a dado with a router. A dado, for those unacquainted, is a slot or trench cut into the surface of a piece of wood, commonly used to house shelves or partitions in cabinet making. It’s a technique that’s as useful as it is versatile, and in this guide, we’re going to delve deep into the process, providing step-by-step instructions and practical tips to help you achieve the perfect dado cut every time.

Table of Contents

  1. Understanding Dado Cuts
  2. Necessary Tools for Dado Cuts
  3. Step-by-Step Guide to Cutting a Dado
  4. Tips for Perfect Dado Cuts
  5. FAQs

Key Takeaways:

  • Dado cuts are an essential woodworking technique used in cabinet making.
  • A router, straight bit, and a guide are the primary tools required for cutting dadoes.
  • The process involves setting up your router, adjusting the bit height, and making the cut with steady, controlled movements.
  • Tips for perfect dado cuts include ensuring a snug fit for the workpiece and taking multiple passes for deeper cuts.
  • Common questions about dado cuts involve the best type of router to use, the ideal bit size, and how to ensure an accurate cut.

Understanding Dado Cuts

A dado cut is a rectangular groove that’s cut into a piece of wood. It’s a common technique used in cabinet making to hold shelves or create joinery. The key to a successful dado cut is precision – the width, depth, and position of the cut need to align perfectly with the dimensions of the workpiece that will be housed in the dado.

Necessary Tools for Dado Cuts

To cut a dado, you’ll need a router, a straight bit, and a guide. The router is the power tool that will make the cut, while the straight bit is the specific type of cutting head used to create a flat-bottomed, square-sided cut. The guide, often a clamped piece of wood, ensures that the cut is straight and accurately positioned.

Before we start, make sure to check out this comprehensive guide to understand the basics of using a router. And for those interested in further expanding their woodworking skills, this article provides a deep dive into dadoes, grooves, and other joinery techniques.

Step-by-Step Guide to Cutting a Dado

  1. Set Up Your Router: Attach the straight bit to your router. Make sure the bit is firmly secured in the collet and that the router is unplugged while you’re making these adjustments.
  2. Adjust the Bit Height: The height of the bit determines the depth of the dado cut. Adjust it to match the thickness of the workpiece that will be inserted into the dado.
  3. Set Up Your Guide: Clamp a straight piece of wood to your work surface to act as a guide. This will keep your cut straight and prevent the router from wandering.
  4. Make the Cut: With the router and bit set, and the guide in place, you’re ready to cut. Start the router and gently guide it along the guide, making sure to keep a steady pace. If the desired depth is more than half the diameter of the bit, make multiple passes, adjusting the bit depth with each pass.

Tips for Perfect Dado Cuts

  • Ensure a Snug Fit: The workpiece that will be inserted into the dado should fit snugly, without forcing it. If it’s too loose, the joint will be weak; if it’s too tight, you risk splitting the wood.
  • Take Multiple Passes for Deeper Cuts: If the desired depth of your dado cut is more than half the diameter of your router bit, it’s safer to make the cut in several passes, adjusting the bit depth with each pass.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of router is best for cutting dadoes?
A fixed-base router is often recommended for dado cuts due to their superior depth control, but a plunge router can also be used.

What is the ideal bit size for dado cuts?
The bit size depends on the width of the dado you want to cut. Generally, a 1/2″ or 3/4″ straight bit is used.

How can I ensure an accurate cut?
Use a guide to keep the router straight, and make a test cut on a scrap piece of wood to confirm your settings before cutting into your actual workpiece.

This guide to making the perfect dado cut should serve as a comprehensive overview for anyone interested in woodworking. Those wanting to delve deeper into the topic might find these articles from Associates99 helpful, which provide further insights into woodworking basics and advanced techniques. Happy routing!

Alejandra Reynoso

By Alejandra Reynoso

Alejandra Reynoso is a passionate writer with a gift for creating engaging and informative website articles. With a background in journalism and business with a flair for storytelling, she has mastered the art of captivating readers with her words. Alejandra's writing covers a diverse range of topics, from business and money to news and politics.