George Vondriska

Cutting Perfect Dadoes and Grooves Using a Router Edge Guide

George Vondriska
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Duration:   10  mins

Watch this video and learn how a router edge guide solves a common woodworking problem. ¾” sheet goods typically aren’t really ¾” thick, so custom grooves and dadoes need to be made for well fitting joints. Luckily, the solution is simple: Use a hand-held router with a fixture called a router edge guide, calculate the necessary correction, dial it in and you’ve got a perfect fit.

Hand-Held Router

This woodworking operation is an example of when it’s best to bring the tool to the work instead of the work to the tool. With a router edge guide in place, your hand-held router becomes the perfect tool for cutting dadoes, grooves and mortises.

Getting the Perfect Fit

With your router edge guide in place, you’ll make a preliminary pass and measure the width of the cut with calipers. Then measure the thickness of the piece that will fit into the dado or groove. In the video, we explain how to calculate the amount of adjustment you need to make on the router guide. After you’ve dialed in the adjustment, you’ll make the second pass which will be the exact width needed for precision-fit joinery.

Decorative Application

When you first learn how to use a router, you probably didn’t realize all of the different ways you could use this workhorse of a woodworking tool. With a router edge guide on your hand-held router you can cut the exact space needed for decorative inlay, which is available in countless sizes, patterns and colors. Check out this video to see how you can dress up your next project.

Plunge Base & Edge Guide Combination provided by Micro Fence. For more information, visit

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2 Responses to “Cutting Perfect Dadoes and Grooves Using a Router Edge Guide”

  1. Elizabeth Matheson

    Hi - could you tell me what brand of calipers you are using? Thanks for your help!

  2. Mike Litzkow

    I find that routing dados and grooves away from the edge of the board can be a bit confusing. I thought that the very first cut you made where you had the router fence on the right and pulled the router toward yourself is not the best direction to move the router. Since the router bit spins clockwise, and you were cutting with the part of the bit toward yourself, the reactive force on the router tends to push it to the right - toward the edge of the board. I think it would be better to push the router away from yourself so that the cutting happens on the far side of the bit. This would tend to push the router away from the edge of the board, thus assisting in keeping the fence tight against the edge and preventing the router from wandering. I thought that the other three cuts you made in the video were each correct. On the second initial cut, you pushed the router away, and both of the "enlarging" cuts were done so as to avoid starting an inadvertent "climb" cut. I did have to look and think carefully to see that, since on one of the enlarging cuts you pulled the router and on the other one you pushed it. However, one time when you adjusted the fence you turned the knob to the left and the other time you turned the adjuster to the right. This resulted in your enlarging the dado from opposite edges in the two demonstrations, and you did move the router in the "correct" direction both times. I recently heard a story from a very experienced router user who got confused about the geometry when enlarging a dado. (Luckily he didn't get hurt, but was very surprised when the workpiece shot off his router table out of control.) I think most router users are aware of the importance of moving in the correct direction when working on the edges of boards, but those cuts in the middle of the board are harder to understand. I'm pretty sure you understand all of this, and I would suggest you might want to make a video on the subject to help your viewers stay safe. It would be great to show how things change once you turn the router upside down in a table too.

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