Dado blades are known to be one of the best options to use with a table saw to make specific radial cuts–but a good degree of misunderstanding, lack of consumer guides, and misuse mean consumers are getting less out of them than possible. They’re also risking their safety.
Saws can be wonderful tools for home improvement projects, and a table saw, which dado blades can be fitted in, is among the more dangerous types of saws. In total, table saws account for around thirty-three thousand emergency room visits per year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Some of the best table saws, equipped with the best blades, including dado blades, operate at as much at four thousand rotations per minute.
There is some innovation right now in terms of improving safety for dado blades and table saws–though for now, it’s still rather nascent. One company, Saw Stop, emerged on the market with new technology meant to monitor and potential safety issues.
Saw Stop operates using a safety system activated by an electrical signal given off by the blade. As the blade contacts with skin, the safety system is enacted, with a spring shutting off the blade within five milliseconds.
While most large manufacturers have not yet equipped the technology, most table saws do have some form of safety standards–which are mixed in terms of how effective they are at preventing injuries.
Luckily, there are many steps you can take to prevent injuries, which includes equipping yourself with the proper safety gear but actually also selecting the best blades.
To that end, this guide will help you choose the best dado blades, when to use a dado blade, and how to use a dado blade and a table saw to get a project done in the most efficient and safest way possible.
Why Are Table Saws Dangerous?
Table saws are dangerous for a few reasons. For one, saws in generally, if not used properly, can be dangerous, especially if you do not know how to operate them, are using the improper saw for the task (for example, some saws are not meant to cut through certain materials like tile) and failing to have the proper safety gear.
With table saws, the blade tends to be spinning especially fast. It’s also easy for saws to slip, and kickback is also a problem.
What are some steps you can take to make sure you’re safe when using a table saw?
While you can’t entirely eliminate any risk, there are a number of steps you can take to lower your risk of injury, including:
- Using a featherboard. Featherboards are meant to improve safety and are used not only with table saws, but also bandsaws and occasionally other power saws. Essentially, featherboards press and hold the material in place, which prevents slipping. Slipping and ‘backward friction’ are among the most common causes of injuries.
- Using a splitter. Using a splitter is another way to reduce kickback. A splitter is a fairly simple, narrow bit of wood that keeps the wood from wobbling as it passes through.
- Wear proper attire. Proper attire includes safety goggles designed to be used with woodworking, but also properly fitted clothing. Avoid anything loose and tie up loose hair if needed. You may also want to wear some form of ear protection.
- Common sense operation includes switching the power off during blade changes, keeping your workspace free of obstacles (including excessive sawdust), testing the blade is properly fitted and then moving freely before use, and avoiding reaching over a blade.
What are Dado Blades?
Dado blades are used with table saws and are mentioned as one of three important types of blades to have for a variety of projects.
Dado blades are considered specialty blades that usually come as a set. Stacked dado blades are circular, as most of the table saw blades are and contain up to six individual blades that come in a variety of diameters, with eight inches being among the more common sizes.
However, not all dado blades are sold as stacks; there are a few varieties. Stacked sets will appear wider than most of the table saw blades, but as a while, dado blades are difficult to immediately discern from other blades used for table saws if you aren’t accustomed to them.
What Are Dado Blades Used For?
Dado blades are used, as we’ve mentioned, to make specialty cuts that can’t be achieved with most all-purpose blades. Dado blades are mostly used to cut especially wide grooves in the wood. This is especially helpful when trying to connect boards together.
What specific cuts can be made with dado blades?
That said, dado blades can typically make four different kinds of cuts:
- Dado joint: A dado joint looks like a slot, but is also referred to as a trench cut. This is achieved when the dado blade is used across and/ or perpendicular to the wood grain.
- Tenon: A tenon refers to and piece, also called a rail, where a square or rectangle groove is cut in order to fit into an adjoining end piece.
- Rabbet: A rabbet is a two-sided groove cut on an end piece that is open on one side.
- Finger joint: Finally, a finger joint is made by making a series of cuts, normally rectangular, into two different pieces of wood. The name comes because the ends look like ‘fingers’ and interlock.
What are the different varieties of dado blades?
Dado blades, as we have mentioned, come in just a few forms. Both types tend to use carbide tips, as do many blades for table saws. The most common ways dado blades are sold include:
Wobble dado blades
Wobble dado blades consist of a single blade rather than a stacked set. Compared with stacked dado blades, a wobble dado blade is more affordable. The name wobble refers to what is termed an ‘offset rotation’. Rather than a regular, circular operation, wobble blades spin back and forth at high speeds. Wobble blades were designed to cut through larger pieces of material in a variety of ways, with a range of cuts.
Width of cuts can be adjusted based upon a central screw, where you rotate the blades and how they face the wood or whatever you are using to cut on. Although you’re just dealing with a second blade, in some ways this can be more difficult to achieve the desired cuts.
Set includes 2 blades, 6 chippers, shim set and carrying case. Features Premium TiCo HI-Density Carbide Crosscutting Blend for Maximum Performance. Silver I.C.E. Coating prevents build up on the blade surface and keeps the blade running cooler and cleaner.
Stacked dado blades
Stacked dado blades are more expensive, but also more popular due to their efficiency. Like wobble blades, dado blades can make a variety of specialty cuts, but they operate a bit differently. Stacked dado blades come in kits where you essentially are given a variety of different blades, which can be set up together to achieve different types of cuts.
If you stack all the blades in the set, you’ll get cuts with the greatest width possible
Narrow cuts can be achieved by using just two or three blades at a time
The two outer blades look more or less like a traditional table saw blades, but the inner blades are smoother, with fewer teeth
What Should I Look For in Order to Find The Best Dado Blades?
In order to find the best dado blades, you need to assess your current project requirements, but you also always want to keep in mind overall value. While you don’t need to buy the most expensive blades, you also want to make sure you’re purchasing dado blades that will perform both as safely and efficiently as possible.
Keep in mind that not all table saws work with dado blades–you’ll have to check yours to see if you can even fit a dado blade first.
Perfect Flat-bottom grooves not staggered steps or round bottoms like a wobble-dado leaves. Cuts in all directions - rip, cross-cut, miter, any depth.
Should I purchase a wobble or stacked set?
The first decision you need to make is whether to buy a wobble dado blade or a stacked set. A wobble dado blade, in theory, can achieve what a stacked dado blade set can; with adjustments, a wobble dado blade can cut with a variety of depths and produce those grooves you need. But there are many downsides to using a wobble blade.
- Wobble blades do not have as precise cuts. Every cut leaves a faint cove, which becomes more pronounced for the wider of a cut you make. Wobble blades, in general, will not have as tight of a fit and are harder to control in the way you’d like.
- Stacked blades are more precise and have a tighter fit, but also have more set up time and a steeper learning curve. Of course, they also are more expensive. Stacked sets tend to average sixty to two hundred dollars.
- Despite the higher cost and more difficult setup, a stacked set is going to offer you the best dado blades have to offer.
Do I want an eight-inch or six-inch dado blade?
Another decision you’ll have to make concerns your blade radius. An eight-inch blade, of course, offers the most versatility, as you can make a wider range of cuts. However, many tasks do not require that. You’ll have to look at and consider what you plan to use your dado blades to guide your decision. While you’ll save a little money by purchasing a six-inch blade over an eight-inch one, the eight inches will provide the widest range of use.
What materials should the blades be made out of?
When considering what materials you want for your dado blade, you want to be thinking, first and foremost, about durability. The blade should be able to withstand pressure and also not be prone to rust. Titanium and carbide, preferably high-density carbide, are your best bets.
What about what materials it works with?
The best dado blades will be able to make both dados and groove cuts on a variety of materials, including plywood, hardwood, and soft board. Also, look for blades with heat resistant coating if at all possible.
How do I find blades that deliver the most accurate cuts?
If you’re worried about precision, you’re going to want to find blades that include micro-grain teeth, preferably made out of carbide. Micrograin teeth help reduce splinters.
- For smooth cuts, the more teeth, the better. If you want a rougher cut or smooth cuts are not as important to you, you can get by with less fine teeth.
- Forty teeth are considered on the high end, while twenty teeth will produce an acceptable cut
- For the most precise cuts, opt for stacked over wobble dado blades
- Shim sets provide the ability to make extra fine adjustments. The more metal shims, the more precise the adjustments you can make
- Laser blades with a heavy gauge are available with some more expensive models
- Precision tension also improves cuts
Is there a way to find blades that are a bit safer to use?
Once you understand how to properly operate a table saw and fit dado blades–as well as take the preventive steps we’ve mentioned–your next best option is to look for blades that are designed to improve safety, including features such as:
- Nonstick coating that is heat resistant
- Opting for blades with full-body chippers can reduce vibrations, make the blades both safer and more accurate
- Kick back resistance is available for select blades
What about the arbor?
When shopping for dado blades, you’ll also come across the term ‘arbor’. The arbor refers to the shaft the circular portion of the blade is attached to. Typically, the arbor hole is proportional to the size of the blade; ? of an inch is typical for an eight-inch blade.
It’s most important to pay attention to the number to make sure it’s compatible with the arbor size of your table saw. For the best spin and cuts, the size of the arbor on the blade should actually be the same as the size of your arbor on your table saw.
Is there anything else I need to consider when searching for the best dado blades?
Finally, you’ll want to check customer reviews; you may even want to see if the blade or blades come with a warranty. While most dado blades are not excessively expensive, a warranty shows more confidence in the product quality and durability.
Key Features to Look For When Looking For The Best Dado Blades
There are just a few key characteristics you want to look for to find the best dado blades. In most cases, opt for a stacked set over a single wobble blade. Look for a durable material, such as titanium and high-density carbide, and if you want a smooth cut, aim for the higher end of teeth and maybe even a shim set. If you’re concerned about safety, look for dado blades that provide details that can make cuts both more accurate and safer to use.
Best Dado Blades Recommendations
Now that we’ve addressed the main criteria for shopping for a dado blade, let’s take a look at some of your best options.
- Oshlun SDS-0842 8-Inch 42 Tooth Stack Dado Set with 5/8-Inch Arbor: This stacked dado blade set is able to produce smooth, fine cuts due to its set of forty-two teeth, with a standard 5/8 inch arbor. For a fair price, you’ll get sixteen pieces, micro-grain carbide tips for increased precision, and can make cuts anywhere from ¼ to 29/3 inches. It also comes with a storage case and is made in a way meant to reduce vibrations.
If We Had To Pick - Oshlun SDS-0842$115.95
The Oshlun Circular Saw Blade is ideal if you are looking for a durable saw blade with great reliability. It features an 8-inch blade with 42 teeth built with the highest quality for an excellent performance. On the other hand, if you are looking for a Heavy-Duty Saw Blade, you can consider Freud D12100X or the DeWalt DW9196 if you want great quality for the money.We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.06/13/2021 10:40 am GMT
- Freud 8″ x 24T Super Dado Sets (SD508): This dado blade set is another excellent choice, though it is on the more expensive end. The eight-inch blades have 5/8 inch arbors and come with shim sets to improve precision. Made with high-density carbide and treated with a special coating to prevent build-up, these blades are designed to run especially smoothly. They even are made with an anti-kickback design.
Freud SD508 8" x 24T Super Dado Sets | Amazon$189.74
Set includes 2 blades, 6 chippers, shim set and carrying case. Features Premium TiCo HI-Density Carbide Crosscutting Blend for Maximum Performance. Silver I.C.E. Coating prevents build up on the blade surface and keeps the blade running cooler and cleaner.We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.06/13/2021 05:15 am GMT
- Forrest DK08244 Dado King 8-inch 29/32-inch Width 5/8-inch Bore Dado Blade Set: The dado blade set is our most expensive suggestion but provides among the best in terms of stability if you plan to use it often or heavily, due to its heavy-duty steel plate construction. It’s also designed to keep everything especially stead, reduce splintering, and optimized for cutting precision.
Forrest DK08244 Dado Blade Set | Amazon
A heavier than normal steel plate maintains maximum stability for the best cut. A negative face hook also adds to optimum rigidity when cutting.We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
- DEWALT DW7670 8-Inch 24-Tooth Stacked Dado Set: Still above one hundred dollars but a but less expensive is this eight-inch set by Dewalt. This dado blade set features micro-grain carbide teeth for precision and less splintering, stainless steel shims, and standard 5/8 inch arbor holes. It also comes with a durable storage case to protect against damage when not in use.