Best Dado Blades: Buyer’s Guide
As your skills as a woodworker increase, you’re going to want to increase your production capacity without needing to invest in other tools. This means looking for attachments, accessories, or blades for your tools in your workshop. If you have a table saw or radial arm saw already, then you should consider investing in a dado blade kit.
What Can a Dado Blade Do?
A dado blade is a popular choice to make joint cuts on your boards. No longer will you need to go at it by using hand tools like chisels. The following list will describe the types of joint cuts you can make with a dado blade.
A dado joint is one of the most common but sturdiest joints you can make. This type of joint requires crosscutting a three-sided channel in your workpiece. The channel should be the same width as the connecting piece. Dado joints are used to build bookshelves and cabinets.
The second type of joint you can make is a tenon. A tenon is a projecting rectangular piece at the end or both ends of a workpiece which is then inserted into a mortise. With a dado blade, you can create the tenon by running the end of a small workpiece four times across the blade. The dado blade comes in handy due to its cutting width – something that a regular table saw blade would take you multiple passes to complete.
A rabbet is similar to a dado joint except that it has two sides rather than three. The cut is made along the edge of the board at the same width as the connecting workpiece so the boards, when connected, forms a perfect 90°.
Imagine interlocking your fingers or teeth of a comb together. Now imagine that each finger or tooth is made of wood. That’s what a finger or comb joint is. Needless to say, it’s one of the most powerful joints in woodworking. A dado blade allows you to make these channels on the end of your workpiece in no time at all since the width of the dado blade can remove considerably more material with each pass compared to a regular table saw blade.
Dado Blades Buying Guide
The only problem you’ll have about dado blades is deciding which kit to get. There are literally hundreds of different dado blade kits for sale, so how can you decide which one to get for your saw? This guide will explain the most important factors to take into account if you’re looking to pick up a dado blade kit.
Dado Blade Type
If you want to get a dado blade kit, you’ll have the choice between a stacked or wobble set. A stacked dado kit contains an inner blade, outer blade, inside chippers, and shims. All of these pieces together let you fine-tune how wide to make the groove cut. A wobble set does exactly what it sounds like; it wobbles due to its offset positioning. When you turn your table saw on, the blade wobbles back and forth, removing any material in its wake.
The main disadvantage of a wobble dado blade is that there’s no guarantee that it will produce a clean cut. This means you need to get the chisel out to shave off any material left by the blade.
The better choice would be to get a stacked blade. The set comes with instructions so there shouldn’t be any issue when installing the kit on your table saw.
TPI and Hook Angle
Depending on what type of materials you’re cutting or what tool you’re using (table saw, or radial arm saw), you’ll want to make sure that the dado blade comes with the right number of teeth and are set at the correct angle.
You’ll want to get a high-TPI dado blade if you plan on making joints in boards that chip easily. More teeth mean more cuts per second so the board won’t get a chance to split. A low-TPI blade would work better for higher quality materials and hardwoods.
Depending on what tool you’re mounting the dado blade on, you’ll need to get a blade with the proper hook angle. 0° hooks are better for table saws, and -10° to -5° hooks are for use in radial arm saws.
Size, Power, and Speed
Dado blades come in either 6-inch or 8-inch diameters. A bigger blade means making deeper grooves in your workpieces.
However, the size of blade you should get depends entirely on how powerful your saw is. 8-inch dado blades would work better in powerful cabinet table saws since. If you have a small, 1-HP contractor table saw then a 6-inch blade would be more appropriate.
Dado blades have speed ratings, indicating how quickly your saw needs to operate to get the most out of the blade. Make sure that your table or radial arm is set or can be adjusted to reach the optimal cutting speed of the blade.
The throat plate refers to the piece that you place on the table saw where the saw’s blade protrudes. You need to make sure that the throat plate is compatible with your table saw.
In no way should you ever attempt to operate your table saw without a throat plate installed. Throat plates can also be custom-made if you can’t find a plate that sits flush or fits your table saw.
As you can see, a dado blade can be extremely useful in furniture-building. The main purpose of mounting one of these blades on your table or radial saw is to produce grooves in your workpieces where another board can be adjoined. If you were to attempt to make the same grooves or channels with your thin table saw’s blade, then you’d probably be in your workshop all day.
If you’re looking to pick up a dado blade kit for your table saw, or radial arm saw, you need to consider what type – stacked or wobble – to get. We recommend getting a stacked dado blade kit, but it can be costlier than their wobble counterparts. You also need to take into account the capacities of your saw in terms of motor power and speed delivery since dado blades, depending on their size, work optimally on saws with certain specs.