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11 Tips for Dadoes & Rabbets South Burlington VT

Some people get pretty worked up about using the right word for the right joint. Perhaps they have a point since imprecise use of terms can lead to confusion. So, to be precise, here are the proper definitions. Read on to learn more.

The Home Depot
(802)872-0039
759 Harvest Lane
Williston, VT
Hours
Mon-Sat: 6:00am-10:00pm
Sun: 8:00am-8:00pm

University Mall
(802) 859-2000
155 Dorset St
S Burlington, VT
Store Hours
Sears Stores
Store Type
Sears Stores
Hours
Mon:9.5-21
Tue:9.5-21
Wed:9.5-21
Thu:9.5-21
Fri:9.5-21
Sat:9-21
Sun:10-18.5
Store Features
Mon:9.5-21
Tue:9.5-21
Wed:9.5-21
Thu:9.5-21
Fri:9.5-21
Sat:9-21
Sun:10-18.5

Bibens Ace-So Burlington
(802) 864-1847
1961 Williston Rd
South Burlington, VT
 
Bibens Ace-Burlington
(802) 862-6068
Ethan Allen Shopping Ctr, 1127 North Ave
Burlington, VT
 
Essex Equipment
(802) 879-0767
26 Kellogg Road
Essex Junction, VT
 
Lowe's
(802) 318-9052
189 Hannaford Drive
South Burlington, VT
Hours
M-SA 6 am - 10 pm
SU 8 am - 7 pm

Russell Supply
(802) 863-1177
9 Gregory Drive South Burlington, VT, 05407
South Burlington, VT
 
Lowe's of South Burlington, VT
802-318-9052
189 Hannaford Drive South Burlington, VT, 05403
South Burlington, VT
 
Bibens Ace-Essex
(802) 879-0249
15 Essex Way, Essex Shoppes & Cinema
Essex Junction, VT
 
Harvey Industries/White River Jct
(802) 295-3700
1354 North Heartland Rd White River Jct, VT, 05495
White River Jct, VT
 

11 Tips for Dadoes & Rabbets

11 Tips for Dadoes & Rabbets

Perfect Dadoes Without the Guesswork

By George Vondriska

Dadoes and rabbets are two of the most widely used joints in cabinetmaking. Cabinets, drawers and jewelry boxes all lend themselves to this simple but strong joinery.  I’ve been woodworking, demonstrating and teaching  woodworking  for a long time. Over the years, I have accumulated some great tips for making and using dadoes and rabbets. 

PROPER TERMS

Some people get pretty worked up about using the right word for the right joint. Perhaps they have a point since imprecise use of terms can lead to confusion. So, to be precise, here are the proper definitions:

A dado is a U-shaped, square-bottomed channel cut across the grain (see photo, top right).  

A groove looks just like a dado, but runs with the grain. A lot of people call a groove a dado I think that’s OK - but imprecise. 

A rabbet is an L-shaped channel cut across or with the grain. A rabbet is always cut on the stock’s edge. 

Make a Gauge Block

Setting up a stackable dado head to fit your plywood can be fussy and time consuming but, you’ll significantly reduce the guesswork by making a dado gauge block.  To make the block, cut a  23/32-in. wide dado in a board big enough to allow for six more dados with space between. Add a single .005-in. shim to the 23/32-in. set up and plow a second dado next to the 23/32-in. one. Continue adding shims and making dados in .005-in. increments until you get to a 3/4-in. dado. Mark the dadoes as you go. To use, slip your plywood into the test dadoes until you find the perfect fit. Then, read the number of shims needed. 

Best Dado Depth

For years, I made all my dadoes 3/8-in. deep in 3/4-in. plywood. If I made dadoes on opposite sides of a divider, however, I had to change their depth and recalculate shelf lengths just for that joint. 

I’ve since learned it’s a lot easier and just as strong to set the depth of cut for every dado to 1/4 in. This makes calculating shelf lengths a whole lot easier, and I never have to make special calculations for a double dado. 

Lock The Height

Always lock the blade-height handwheel before cutting. Vibration can make the handle turn, changing the depth of cut. This change is often hard to observe until assembly time. A big oops, if you just cut dadoes for a  kitchen full of cabinets.  

Cut Rabbets with a Sacrificial Fence

A sacrificial fence protects your stock fence from damage. I make my fence from melamine because its slippery. I cut a 3/8-in. x 3/4-in. groove to accept a commercial featherboard. A scallop cut in the face of the sacrificial fence allows me to bury part of the blade.  

A Featherboard Guarantees Accuracy

A featherboard provides consistent downward  pressure on the material right over the blade. This will compensate for a slight warp in pl...

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