George Vondriska

Do Your Dadoes Stack Up?

George Vondriska
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Duration:   5  mins

Dado joinery is one of the most solid forms of joinery used in cabinet carcase construction. It provides tons of surface area for a great glue bond, and also provides mechanical reinforcement for supporting horizontal members. Once it is set up on your table saw, it’s one of the easiest forms of joinery to perform, and offers great repeatability. But getting a dado stack set up for just the perfect fit can be challenging, particularly given that plywood thickness has so much variability. And performing trial and error with the dado stack installed on the table saw can be a time consuming, frustrating process.

George has a simple approach to getting just the right fit. It involves a quick series of steps that can be used to achieve the perfect fit while eliminating some of the trial and error.

Ballpark it. Start by building up an estimated dado stack next to the material that you are using and checking for fit. Be sure that both your dado stack and your plywood are held firmly and are flat as you compare thicknesses. Then you can easily make adjustments to the stack without having to make as many test cuts. George also shares a tip for protecting your saw top as well as your dado stack.

Test it. Once you have determined your likely stack of chippers and shims, install the setup on your table saw and run a test piece through the dado stack. Test the fit to see if it slides in with just the right friction fit.

Dial it in. If you need any fine tuning of the fit, you can add or remove a shim until you have perfected it.

Once you have mastered the process of efficiently sizing a dado stack, you might be ready to explore more cabinetmaking education.

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