How to Cut a Box Joint Without a Dado Stack

Buyer’s Guide

You can check table saw dado blade review articles online, but unless you know what to look for, you might still end up with the wrong blade. Most dado blade reviews offer you a list of products to choose from. To choose the best blade amongst those on the market. Dado blades are powerful tools to have in your collection of woodworking tools. Read on to learn more about dado blades.

Also check our reviews about the top quality blades on the market:

Types to Choose From

There are two main types of dado sets:

  1. Stacked Dado Set Stacked dado blades are loved for their versatility. They have two outside blades, chippers and shims, which enhance the precision of cuts. The width you get with these blades is dependent on the number of chippers used between the outside blades. Most sets come with between 4 and 6 chippers. These units are precise and long lasting. Most of them are resharpenable, and they can be used on a wide range of materials. However, these sets are relatively expensive and challenging to set up.
  2. Wobble Dado Blade Wobble blades are simple and act as a single blade system. Instead of stacking, the blades use a different method to make grooves. The functioning of this blade requires that you install a single wobble blade with a hub which you use to adjust angles. The angles cause the blade to spin in a wobbly manner instead of spinning accurately like stacked blades. As this wobble blade spins at high speeds, it cuts through the material. Wobble blades are affordable and easy to set up. However, they are less accurate and often damage the saw.

Considerations when Buying a Dado Blade

You can choose a single blade from the best dado blade reviews above. A dado blade is a must-have tool in a workshop for serious woodworkers. With so many blades on the market, it is a challenge to choose the best. When shopping, consider: the following factors.

  • Blade Type – This should be the first thing that you choose. Do you need a stacked blade set or a wobble blade? Stacked blades are preferred due to their accuracy, but they are relatively pricey.
  • Compatibility – Dado blades are designed with a few variations, unlike other blade types. Granted, compatibility issues are minimal. However, you need to understand saw blade specifications to match the blade to the right saw. Teeth per inch, TPI, is one of the factors you need to consider when matching blades to saws. The blade material and hook angle also matter when matching blades. A high TPI is ideal for materials that chip easily while a low TPI comes in handy for high quality materials. Dado blades with a hook angle of 0 degrees are suitable for table saws while blades with -10 or -5 degrees are ideal for radial arm saws.
  • Power and Size – The dado blade needs to be attached to a saw that will run it smoothly. These blades are either 6 or 8 inches, with the latter offering deeper cuts. Blades that are 8 inches will require powerful saws such as cabinet saws or contractor saws to operate them. 6-inch blades work perfectly on different saws irrespective of the power. Blades are rated for a given speed and they should be matched with saws that offer that speed.
  • Insert Plates – Insert plates refer to the space that the blades protrude from. When you are searching for the best dado blade, this is an important factor as it determines the saw you mount it on. When planning to use the blade on a table saw, a customized insert plate comes in handy.

Common Joints

There are a variety of joints you can make with a dado blade. Considering the joints that a dado blade makes can help you in choosing the best dado stacks. Some joints include:

  • Dado Joint: This is the most common and the simplest joint to make. It is a simple trench made either perpendicular or across the grain of the wood. When viewed as a cross section, the joint has three sides.
  • Finger Joint: Also referred to as a comb joint, this joint involves cutting corresponding rectangular slots on two different pieces of wood and then joining them with wood glue. This is one of the strongest joints in woodworking.
  • Tenon: Tenons are used when making the popular mortise and tenon joints. It is a small rail formed at the end of a piece of wood to be inserted into a square or rectangular opening that has been drilled out on another piece of wood. Tenons should be made to fit perfectly on the mortise.
  • Rabbet: A rabbet is a groove made into the end of a piece of wood. When viewed from the side, it appears to be two-sided. This rabbet opens into the edge of the surface.


Your needs will determine the blade you choose. Most blades come in handy for hobbyists as well as professionals. The saw you have, whether a table saw or radial arm saw, will also be crucial in the blade you choose. Fortunately, these blades cover different budgets, allowing you to make your choice with ease.


What They Are Used For

Dado blades are used to cut grooves in material. The grooves form woodworking joints that are meant to connect two pieces of stock. They’re often used for cabinets, bookshelves, dividers, and drawers.

Though every woodworker has their own opinion on whether a dado blade is a requirement for their jobs, if you don’t have one, you’ll have to use a router table or a clamp guide in the middle of the board with a handheld router to achieve the same effect.

Miter saws are also an option for cuts that are traditionally made with a dado blade.

Advantages of having a dado blade at hand

Having a dado blade in your tool set can make a huge difference in your ability to work productively and safely with wood. Dado blades are designed to quickly and easily make joint cuts, known as grooves, rabbets, or dadoes, that are common in woodworking whenever you need to fit two pieces of wood together. While there are other ways to make these cuts, dado blades are by far the fastest and simplest options and can be used with the table saw or radial-arm saw that you already have in place of your typical circular blade. For this reason, a dado blade is an excellent investment for anyone who frequently works with wood or who is planning to embark on a complex woodworking project.

Touch up the bottom

After clearing the groove, remove any ridges at the bottom with a chisel of the same width as the groove or with a strip of adhesive sandpaper applied to the edge of scrap shelf stock.

Sandpaper callout on board

How do I choose a table saw?

How to Make Box Joints
  1. Mark the front, back, and side pieces of your box.
  2. Before you cut the front and back, cut one notch into a scrap piece, just as you cut the first notch into the side piece earlier.
  3. To join your box pieces, apply glue to all of the mating surfaces with a small brush.

How does a safety table saw work?

SawStop Saws Detect Contact With Skin. The blade carries a small electrical signal, which the safety system continually monitors. When skin contacts the blade, the signal changes because the human body is conductive. The change to the signal activates the safety system.

Step 2: Fit the Fence

A fence is glued into the groove ensuring that it is truly vertical. A fixed stop is attached at each end, both of which have a steel face to prevent wear creating inaccuracies.

Screw a block of wood to the baseboard behind the fence, being careful to keep the screws away from the blade-line, so that the blade does not come out at the end of the cut. My thumbs are not far away, so this is important.

Types of joints you can make

Dado blades are designed to cut grooves, dadoes, or rabbet joints, which allow you to fit the blunt edge of one piece of wood into the groove cut into another piece of wood. The depth and width of your joints will vary depending on the size of your dado blade set and the width of your primary blades – in a stacked dado blade set – or the angle of your wobble – in a wobble blade set.

Section 2 Are All Dado Blades the Same?

The market offers two different types of these tools:

  • Stacked dado blade set
  • Wobble dado blade

Apart from the types, you will also find these units in different sizes. The standard size is 6-7 inches, while bigger tools have a diameter of up to ten inches.

2.1 Stacked Dado Blade Set

As the word suggests, a stacked dado blade features a series of blades packed together to design a big blade. This tool consists of several layers – the central one includes chipper blades that you can remove. It is possible to adjust the number of teeth to four or more, depending on the task that you need to find. On the outer sections, you will find stacked blades.

If you want extra precision, it is possible to go for a blade interspersion strategy by adding spacers. These units are a usual accessory in a dado saw blade. The material used is plastic or metal.

2.2 Wobble Dado Blade

A wobble dado blade is not as standard as its stacked alternative. The specific thing about these units is that they have an offset rotation. Even though there are no multiple blades, it is possible to achieve similar results to stacked counterparts.

The name of these blades comes because they sway while operating. That reminds some people of wobbling, which is why they received the name wobble dado blade. You can adjust the desired cut by setting the blade’s sides. It is not easy to operate a wobble unit since it is prone to vibration while in action. That is why beginners steer clear of them.

Frequently Asked Questions –

1. Can you use a dado blade on any table saw?

The short answer is NO you can't.

Fitting in a full stacked dado blade set can be risky because of the short arbor and most small to medium size table saws have similar size arbors.

Be sure to READ manual before you use a dado blade on a table saw.

2. Can you use a dado blade on a Dewalt table saw?

Not on all Dewalt Table Saw. These are the one that accept dado blades 

  1. Dewalt DWE7491RS 
  2. Dwe7490X and 
  3. DW744XRS.

3. Will an 8 dado blade work on a 10 table saw?

YES, it can work.

If the diameter of your dado blade arbor hole matches the diameter of your table saw's arbor and the saw's arbor is long enough to accommodate it. Read more.

4. Are dado blades dangerous?

YES, it can be.

Here's the deal:

Potentially all woodworking power tools can be hazardous if it isn't operated safely.

Use an extra fence on the table saw to operate dado blades safely.

5 . Can a job site table saw accept dado blades?

Yes, probably it can if the arbor is wide enough, and also the clearance plate had to be removed which can be dangerous. We always recommend putting dado blades only to table saws that accept it.

6. Do DW745 and DWE7480 table saws accept dado blades?

No these table saws aren't dado compatible but you can use a DeWalt dado throat plate to use the dado blades on your DW745 and DWE7480 table saws

7. Can Hercules table saw use dado blades?

They can take thin dado blades with a spacer. However, you can't fit in a wobble dado blades into it. You can find more here.

8. Router or Table Saw: Which Is Better For Dados?

This is one of the heaviest debates in dado discussions. Some prefer router some table saw. I have an article which clearly shows which is better you can find that here.

Section 9 Dado Blades Answers to the Common Problems

We gathered answers to the most common questions people ask about the dado blade. Check them out if you want to learn more about these tools!

9.1 Is a Dado Blade Necessary for Woodworking Projects?

It is not necessary for woodworking projects, but it can make your job easier in many situations. If you need to cut joints used to join two wooden components together, a dado blade can do a reliable job. Although it is not required, many operators trust this blade to deliver optimal performance whenever cutting joints.

9.2 Can I Install a Dado Blade Myself?

It shouldn’t be a problem to set up a dado blade if you follow the article’s instructions. Alternatively, check the manual you received with the product to safely discover how to place the blade on the tool. Always stay safe while operating, and don’t forget about wearing protective goggles and other safety equipment

9.3 Is Using a Dado Blade on a Circular Saw Dangerous?

Dado blades are compatible with radial-arm and table saws. That means you should avoid using them on circular and handheld tools! If you do that, you will compromise your safety. You don’t want to risk getting injured or something else going wrong while operating, so make sure not to use a dado blade on circular saws.

9.4 Can Any Table Saw Use Dado Blades?

No, not all table saws are compatible with a dado blade. Additionally, your table saw might not be able to fit all sizes of dado units. For example, some tables can fit an 8-inch dado blade, but cannot accommodate bigger items. Always check the details of both the tool and the cutter to ensure they are compatible.

What is a Dado Cut?

A dado cut is considered one of the most basic woodworking joints available to amateurs and professionals alike.

Their basic composition consists of the squared, three-sided channel cut against the grain of a piece of wood.

This channel is typically made wide enough such that another piece of wood (such as a shelve) will fit snuggly into it.

Dado cuts come with a variety of practical benefits when implemented into a woodworking project.

For example, they offer a great deal of vertical sheer resistance due to the three-sided manner in which an inserted workpiece is captured by the cut.

Dado cuts are also less likely to wear down over time, given that they are primarily designed to hold an inserted workpiece entirely stable.

Dado cuts see a whole host of applications in the woodworking field. Most often, they are used in cabinets in order to create reliable shelving supports.

However, dado cuts also see use as drawer dividers and general-use partitions.

Step 4: Calibrating the Slider

With the shim in the kerf as before, insert the prepared stock between the indexing peg and the shim and push the slider as far to the left as possible. Remove the stock. Now push the slider to the left. If it moves, it means the screw is too far in, it needs to come out a bit. Keep trying until the stock is held in a Goldilocks fit when theadjustment screw is touching the steel face of the stop. The size of the finger is now set and we need to make the socket the same size.

With the right-hand screw well out, put the scrap we used moment ago over the indexing peg and nibble away, moving the slider left and right with each pass over the saw blade. If the prepared stock fits, great. If it doesn’t, move the right-hand screw further in and nibble away a bit more. Keep adjusting the screw until the new socket fits nicely over the indexing peg.

If a different size of joint is required, simply make a different slider. I currently have 1/4″, 5/16″, 15mm and that well-know standard size, 11.4mm.

The jig is now ready to use.

How to Safely Use Dado Blades

As with all types of woodworking, safety is the key to fully enjoying your experience, both in the short and long terms.

At a basic level, this means that you should always step up to your dado-compatible table saw wearing the right personal safety equipment.

In particular, you should always wear eye protection, ear protection, and properly fitted clothing whenever you decide to work with these rapidly-spinning power tools.

As for the dado blade set itself, there are a few tips to consider when it comes to safe use.

For example, the two circular blades in your set should always be positioned such that their teeth point outward.

In many cases, this can be done at a glance by ensuring that the marked side of the circular blade is facing outward.

Also, when arranging your dado set, be sure that each chipper blades’ teeth are slightly offset.

Not only does this cut down on unnecessary friction, but it can also ensure that the base of your dado’s channels is far cleaner and far smoother.