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Dedicated Dado Saw

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  • Dedicated Dado Saw

    I am thinking about getting an inexpensive contractor's table saw who's only purpose in life will be to host my 8" Freud Dado stack. I am envisioning a single purpose Dado Saw w/several sacrificial fences allowing me to stop swapping blades on my BT3K.

    My main question is: are there any reasonably priced 10" contractors saws out there that also have enough accuracy to make this worthwhile?

    I am open to higher end brands if they have a significant enough increase in accuracy/stability.

    But if a Grizzly or Delta are going to give me close to the same cuts as a DeWalt, then I'd like to know that.

    (Now in WA State)
    Last edited by LCHIEN; 09-19-2019, 12:22 PM. Reason: Edited title from Daw to Saw

  • #2
    I don't know if this answers your question or not but I have seen numerous youtube videos over the year from third world places where a craftsman took the only available tool and made some very nice objects with it. Lathes, saws, knives etc. That said, I have seen a few craftsmen here in the USA who made superb furniture objects with minimal saw tools.

    I would think that most any job site saw today could be made into a dedicated dado saw - if the arbor will accept a 3/4 inch dado. I think that is the one thing to look for - arbor acceptance. Back when the Ryobi BT3000/3100 was still being sold, a few people put two saws side by side on a single table and used one for dedicated dado.

    The key AFTER the arbor requirement would be making a dedicated fence that would lock down and stay true. That should not be a problem either, even if it means locking down both ends with a C-clamp or other.

    And Welcome to the Sawdust Zone.
    Hank Lee

    Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!


    • #3
      You could also try something completely different. Radial arm saws are great for doing dados as long as they are less than the travel of the saw e.g. book case sides. Long dados the length of a piece of plywood can be done as well but tearout can be a problem. A good RAS can be picked up for less than $100 on craigslit.
      An ethical man knows the right thing to do.
      A moral man does it.


      • #4
        The major problem I see with a contractor size saw for dados is the lack of table top space. Even with lots of table space crosscut dados on long pieces are very difficult.... thus the recommendation for the radial arm saw. Cutting cabinet stock is not possible with a radial arm saw and does require quite a bit of table space and for safety sake an outfeed table. When I have to use a dado on smaller pieces I try to use a crosscut sled if I can maintain the depth of cut, then the table size is not so much an issue.
        Clear as mud?


        • #5
          Before buying a second saw to dedicate to dado blades, I would think a dedicated router with a small bearing or bushing guided straight bit (or spiral cut) and an adjustable width dado jig would be cheaper and likely easier to use on larger workpieces. Easier to store/fit into a small shop too. You can more easily gang-cut pieces (e.g. both sides of a bookcase) to guarantee the dados line up too.

          I have a RAS in addition to my BT3. I sometimes use the RAS for dados since it's much easier to line up the cut on the RAS - you can see your marks and the blade at the same time. Fitting the dado stack onto the RAS is almost as much work as putting the stack onto the BT3. I typically use the RAS more for crosscuts or dados on long workpieces that are otherwise a hassle on the BT3 (I've never made a crosscut sled since I have the RAS). Dados or rabbets along the length of a long board would require rotating the RAS head 90 degrees and locking its position on the arm... and feeding the workpiece into the RAS. I'd rather do that on the BT3 from a safety point of view. And from a dust collection point of view too. One other RAS issue: if the workpiece is bowed at all then it's easy to get a dado/rabbet that is deeper than you want when the "high point" of the board passes under the blade. You'd have to hold the board down/flat while also moving it past the blade. Sounds risky to me from both a safety point of view and getting a too-deep cut if I can't maintain positive downward force on it all the time. On a table saw, that bow would result in a too-shallow dado/rabbet most likely - easy to come back and fix it.

          Since you mentioned several sacrificial fences I gather you more frequently plan on making rabbet cuts with the dado stack than actual dados/grooves. If so, then a dedicated saw makes a lot more sense to me. A router + table could still work well too with different thickness "shim" faces added to the fence. A two-router table setup - one side set for rabbets basically and the other for general purpose routing - might be a worthwhile alternative to a second table saw.



          • #6
            I haven't built much in the way of furniture, a lot of bookcases for sure, but furniture wise its been limited to a few tables, and an entertainment center. I generally don't use dado's as I feel my BT probably wouldn't have the torque and I wouldn't want to stress the motor. Most of my so-called woodworking has been renovating and doing 'built-ins' to the home.

            I do have a RAS and that has been my only saw for quite a few years, up until I bought the BT in 2005. I certainly prefer ripping on the BT, but most all of my crosscuts are on the RAS. And, since the few dados I have cut have been crosscuts (book cases), I do those on the RAS by making multiple passes with the RAS. I just can't justify a dado stack for the few dados I do and on an RAS, making four or five precision crosscuts is a piece of cake. However, I've found the router to be a pretty decent tool for most dado cuts, especially something long. Concerned with power and wear on the cutter, I've found that if I first remove a major portion of the stock with a couple of passes on the table saw, and then follow it with the proper width bit in the router to perfect the dado, it goes fairly quick. In such cases with a long dado, I use a 'factory-edge' piece of 3/4 ply as a guide.

            Think it Through Before You Do!