How to Make Dado Cut with Circular Saw

How to Make Dado Cut with Circular Saw

How to Make Dado Cut with Circular Saw

A dado is a cut in wood that runs across the grain. Dado cuts are simple to do with a circular saw.

Dado cuts are primarily used for making Dado joints which are simple but strong joints.

Let me show you how you can make a Dado cut easily with a circular saw.

Things You'll Need

  • Speed Square
  • Circular Saw
  • Pencil
  • Chisel
  • Hammer
  • Clamps
  • Masking Tape

Start by placing a sacrificial board (plywood or MDF) onto the work surface to protect your work table.

placing sacrificial board over work table
placing sacrificial board over work table

Place the wood for cutting over the sacrificial sheet.

place wood for cutting over sacrificial board
place wood for cutting over sacrificial board

Fix masking tape over your cut line to prevent splintering.

Next, mark the dado boundaries on either side using the speed square and a carpenter's pencil.

drawing the cut line for dado in the wood
drawing the cut line for dado in the wood

After the dado is marked for cutting, adjust the blade length.

Keep the saw over the wood's edge and adjust the blade height appropriately.

setting blade depth in the wood
setting blade depth in the wood

Remember not to set the depth below half the thickness of the wood as it might lead to the formation of a weak dado or even split the wood into two.

Clamp at the middle and the end using two quick grip clamps.

clamping the wood on the work table
clamping the wood on the work table

Align the blade of the saw with the cut line.

aligning the saw blade with cut line
aligning the saw blade with cut line

Next, you need to use the circular saw to make multiple cuts within the boundary of the dado cut.

Multiple cuts leave the wood easy to be chiseled out.

Plug the saw and begin cutting along the cut line using the speed square as a guide.

making multiple cuts in the wood with circular saw
making multiple cuts in the wood with circular saw

Make multiple passes inside the dado to help in removing the excess wood.

making multiple cuts in the wood with circular saw
making multiple cuts in the wood with circular saw

After this, use a chisel and hammer/mallet to remove the cut-up wood.

chiseling out the cut-up wood
chiseling out the cut-up wood

Once that is done, a rough dado is made.

To smoothen the edges, use sanding paper to hand-sand the rough edges.

sanding the dado for smoothing it
sanding the dado for smoothing it

With this step, you'll now have a smooth and accurate dado in the wood piece.

dado cut completed using circular saw
dado cut completed using circular saw

The process of making a groove cut (along the grain) with a circular saw is similar but slightly different.

Tips for Accuracy for Dado Cut using Circular Saw

  • Using masking tape before drawing the mark on it can help reduce splinters and lend a more pleasing finish.
  • Use a sharp blade with an appropriate number of teeth.
  • If you are using wet wood or treated lumber, use a blade that's appropriate for that purpose.
  • Use a rasp to clean and smoothen the cut after sawing. Alternatively, A hand sander or sanding paper can also get the job done
  • More teeth on the saw blade means better cut but takes longer to cut and large teeth means quick but rough cuts.
  • Make sure to cut outside of the line, so the wood piece that you intend to use has the correct dimensions.
  • Masking tape helps in highlighting the cut line in case of darker woods.
  • While marking, never mark just as a point. Instead, mark it as a 'tick' mark or a 'crow's foot' mark. Doing so helps in identifying the point to be cut easily.
  • Remember to support the board equally over the sawhorse so as to prevent it from falling over.

Tips for Safety when Cutting a Dado with Circular Saw

  • Never stay right behind or too close to the running blade to avoid injury in case of kickback. Kickback is extremely dangerous and must be prevented at all costs.
  • Once the saw is turned on, keep it steady but never try to force it back in case it veers off.
  • If the piece completely seperates from the wood, let it fall. Never try to catch it while holding a runnning saw in your hand.
  • Using masking tape before cutting can help reduce splinters.
  • Make sure the saw teeth are facing in direction of rotation. (Anti-clockwise direction in case of circular saw).
  • Using excessive force will create pinch points in the wood leading to damage for both the user and the saw.
  • Before cutting any material, especially wood, make sure there are not obstructions such as nails inside the wood.
  • If you can smell something burning, immediately stop sawing and re-adjust the mask and saw blade.
  • Inspect the power chord for exposed wire and cuts. If the insulation is removed or exposed, consider changing the power chord immediately.
  • If you can smell something burning, immediately stop sawing and re-adjust the mask and saw blade.
  • Make sure depth is set all the way down before you begin adjusting.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What does stopped dado mean?

A stopped dado is just a regular dado that ended before reaching the front edge of the piece. A notch is cut in the front edge of the cabinet, so it fits flush with the front edge, giving the visual impression of a butt joint. A stopped or blind dado can easily be made using a plunge router.

How tight should dado be?

A dado should be tight enough so that only a light tap with the mallet will be able to secure the board into the dado during dry fitting.This can be further reinforced by adding wood worker's glue.

How deep should dado be in plywood?

The dado depth should be no more than one-half the thickness of the wood being cut, and its depth should be one-third the of the wood's thickness.

How do you fix a loose dado joint?

The best way to fix a loose dado joint is to cut a filler strip from another wood that closely matches the dado joint’s colour and grain.

How strong is a dado joint?

A dado joint is made from a three-sided channel cut across the grain of one workpiece. Then, a second mating workpiece fits into the slot. Since dado has three sides in contact with the second piece, its strength is greater than most joints.

What is the difference between a dado and a rabbet and a groove?

The main difference between a dado and a rabbet is that the dado is a slot cut across the wood grain in the middle of the wood stock, whereas the rabbet is a step milled at the end of the stock to create a rabbet joint. A groove is similar to a dado except for the fact that its always cut along the grain and in the lengthwise direction while a dado is cut in the widthwise direction.

About V Susan

Hi! I'm Susan. I am passionate about DIY projects and dark chocolates! Welcome to Mellowpine. We play around with beginner woodworking projects, CNC for hobbyists, and general woodworking tips.

If you'd like to connect with me or talk about something you like at mellowpine, drop me a mail at susan@mellowpine.com

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V Susan

Hi! I'm Susan. I am passionate about DIY projects and dark chocolates! Welcome to Mellowpine. We play around with beginner woodworking projects, CNC for hobbyists, and general woodworking tips.

If you'd like to connect with me or talk about something you like at mellowpine, drop me a mail at susan@mellowpine.com

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