A dado blade is one of those blessed woodworking tools which every professional carpenter want to have in their tool collection. Especially it’s designed to create precision grooves, dados, and rabbet cuts for different woodworking projects. And hardly there is no better choice to expects this.

Now the question is how to use a dado blade meaning the setup and installation technique. That being said, it’s a trickier one to do but the truth is, if you follow the guideline it’s nothing than an effortless job.

Here in this article, I’ll tell you the easiest as well as effective ways to use & install a dado blade.

So, let’s get started,

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The Installation Guide of Dado Blades

Unplug the Machine

Before installing your dado blade set, it’s essential to know when your dado blade set is unplugged or not. If it’s not, make sure you unplug your tools. Remove throat plate and saw guard. And lastly not forget to wear protective gear to ensure safety.

Introduction of Dado Stack

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Almost every stacked dado blade set are incorporated with a carrying case. This case will hold the outer blades and chippers for storage. Also, the set is comprised of several shims and insider chippers as well. However, it’s very necessary to know about the components since all of them are taking part in the creating groove.

The dado stack comes with the following parts,

Outer Blades: Most sets equipped with two outer blades however, they almost look like a normal saw blade. Oftentimes they are referred to as “plates”. Typically, these blades have several teethes and written on one side. Each plate is intended to place on either the right or left side of the stack. Make sure you never mix them up since they create a weird shape on the side of the groove.

Chippers: Depending on the brand of dado set, these blades come between 2-4 teeth. Even these blades width will also vary. No wonder it’s a very essential component while removing the materials in between the outer edge.

Shims: Basically, shims are the spacers that you place between the plates and chippers. Remember they always place inside not the outside of the stack. Typically, different width shims come with a dado stack. These will help you to extend the width of the groove and at the same time prevents the blades from grinding. In short, this little guy compliments your width of the cut.

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Ensuring the Width of cut

Before moving the dado stack onto a table saw, first, you need to decide how much width you want for your cut. To do so, take a look at your project piece and measuring how wide the dado blade will cut.

The following steps will easier for your job.

Build for Right thickness

To building the stack using a flat worktable. Lay one of the plates on the bottom and then begin to stack. Keep including spacers and inside chippers on the stack. Meanwhile measuring the size of the workpiece you want to cut. Make sure the outer blades and chippers teeth place in a reverse position, meaning they don’t touch each other.

Look at the instruction book to get a clear idea about the thickness of each component. A general rule of the dado stack would be plate-shim-chipper-shim-chipper-shim-plate. However, it’s not a fixed rule, so you can add or deduct to get your desire thickness.

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Check the Height of the Dado Stack

Like other setups, it’s very necessary to check the height of your stack. Using a caliper, you can check the height. If you don’t have any caliper, take a piece of wood to ensure the stack height.

While you get the correct height, you can understand what blades you require to install for even cut.

Installing the Dado Blades

In the time you’re ready to install, detach your previous table saw’s blades and inserts. To match your dado stack’s width, you’ll require a wide table saw.

You’ll need to remove the blade guards as well. Using an Allen wrench, you can remove the 2 screws from the blade guard. And now you’re ready to install your dado blades.

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Move Safely the Dado Stack

After building the right sequence of the stack to cut your material, now it’s time to move the stack to the table armor. Don’t be panic just simply remove the chippers & blades and place your correct stack on the table. Being by keeping the stack to the armor, make sure chippers and plates teeth aren’t aligned perfectly. Even scattered way place shims throughout the stack to ensure chippers can eliminate the materials perfectly. Remember shims are very thin so be careful of keeping them in place before adding the next plates or chippers. It’s because they can damage if they trap in the threads while tightening the nuts.

Re-check Nuts and Stack

While keeping the stack on the armor, recheck everything like teethes is away from each other and shims are in place.

And now, install the washer and nut to tighten the whole stack. Try to show the 1 ½ threads on the end of the table saw. If it’s not happened, your stack will be too thick for your equipment. So, try to do that at least. However, tightening is just a normal process as you do with your usual blades. But uses an insert designer will easier your job.

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Determine the Thickness of Cut

Determine the depth is as easy as you would do with other blades. Don’t attempt any cover to cover cut with this blade. This might be dangerous for your blade.

Do a Test cut

Like other working setups, it’s very necessary to try a test cut using a scarp piece of wood. This attempt would help you to get the idea of the right width while you jump your good material.

Gauging the Gap

The main goal of the test cut is to find out any gap between the cut. If yes, using glue can solve the problem. In case, your test dado cut is a bit wider, you can apply shims to get an idea of how many components you need to remove from the stack.

Tips –Need to Know

Clean Everything Carefully

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Using the term “clean everything”, we mean clean the table saw’s arbor, dado components, throat plate, and arbor nut. Even the chipper, shim, spacer, and both sides of the blades must be cleaned before installed them. Also, you need to ensure the equipment are free from any materials which might be caught between the blade face and arbor washer.

Now it’s time to wipe these parts using a lint-free rag added with WD40 cleaner. Usually, dirty stuff like chippers and plates can easily attack by rust, and using the WD40 can do the trick.

Use Oil on the Shims

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While moving the stack onto the arbor, sometimes you might find the shims are moving or shaking. This can create a direct effect on your cutting and measurement system. To prevent this problematic situation, one trick can apply and that is giving one or two drops of machine oil onto each shim. This trick surely gives a temporal solution by keeping the shims in place.

Too Deep Might be Too Dangerous

As you already know, dado blades are made for making specific joints and grooves on your materials. It’s better to create a groove not more than ½ inch deep. Because a deeper groove requires more boards to join inside this actually doesn’t make any strong joint.

So if you go deep, you really ruin the shape of the board nothing else. And this creates the material too weak to hold anything.

Final Thoughts

At the first look, dado blades might give you scary feelings. Even you can ask yourself, why there’re so many pieces and how I’ll assemble them in my arbor.

Reality is installing a dado blade is fairly easy as long as you followed the guideline. While maintaining it, you might not face any problem in setting and installing the dado blade.

In short, a dado blade is a blessed woodworking tool to make professional-quality joints.

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