router or dado blade for shelves?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jan Strnad, Jul 20, 2002.

  1. Jan Strnad

    Jan Strnad Screenwriter

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    Does anyone have a preference when it comes to cutting a dado for shelves? I know you can use a handheld router or you can use a dado blade with a table saw. Either one seems to cost about a hundred bucks, so which should I buy?

    Thanks!

    Jan
     
  2. Rick Guynn

    Rick Guynn Second Unit

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    I would say get the router. It will serve many more purposes.

    RG
     
  3. Chad Anson

    Chad Anson Second Unit

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    I agree about the utility of the router. However, I have a cheaper router and wish I would have spent a little more money on it (i.e., closer to $200 than the $80 that I spent).

    However, I think for the repeatability that you'd want for shelves, I'd go with a dado blade.
     
  4. Pete Mazz

    Pete Mazz Supporting Actor

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    If you need to do dados in a long piece, like a tall bookshelf side panel, you really need a good crosscut table/jig for a table saw. The small miter guage that comes with most saws isn't very stable for big pieces.

    If you use a router with say a 3/4" bit, it's possible the joint will be "sloppy" as a lot a panel goods aren't really 3/4" thick.

    The foolproof way is to get an undersized bit, say 11/16", and route the dados with it. Then on your table saw set the blade height the same as the dado depth. Set the rip fence to the dado width. Stand the shelves up on edge and run them thru the table saw to make the rabbet. The shelf should then fit snugly in the dado, no matter of any variance in the shelf thickness.

    Pete
     
  5. Ned

    Ned Supporting Actor

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    I believe Lee Valley has straight bits that are sized for plywood (www.leevalley.com).
    The dado blade is much easier for doing rabbits/dadoes on the edges of panels but not so easy for dadoes in the middle of a panel.
     
  6. Jan Strnad

    Jan Strnad Screenwriter

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    Thanks very much for the suggestions! Looks like I need both!

    Jan
     
  7. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

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    When making dadoes w. a dado blade you'll want a cross-cutting / panel jig for your saw. The small guide that comes with the saw is inadequate for stabilizing the workpiece while you're pushing it through the blade. A budget method would be to make multiple cuts with a regular saw blade and then flatten the bottom of the cut (if required) with a chisel.
     
  8. Dennis XYZ

    Dennis XYZ Stunt Coordinator

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    A router is much easer and generally gives a cleaner cut. First get the right bit. A carbide hinge mortising bit works much better than a straight bit. Any lumber yard will have one. The center is cut away so the chips clear and it doesn't want to walk around or burn like a straight bit. Then take some scrap 1x4 with straight edges and build a jig/guide. Factory MDF edges are good if you don't have a jointer. One side is fixed and the other is adjustable for width. The router base runs between the two. For a nominal 3/4" rabbet, use a 1/2" bit and adjust the jig so the width comes out exactly right when you make two passes.
     

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