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Can I Use Dado Blades on My Table Saw? Solved!


Dado blades have been around for a very long time.
With the introduction of new saws that have a dado blade holder built into the saw, dado blades have become even more popular.
At the same time, however, there is quite a bit of controversy over dado saw blades.

To know if you can use dado blades on your table saw, you need to know 2 things: are dado blades allowed in the country you live in (see the list of countries below in this article), and will dado blades fit your table saw? These questions can be answered in no time in this article.

In some countries, they are allowed, in others, they are not.
There is one main reason they are banned in many countries, and that is because of the wide cuts that these saw blades cause.
In the event of an accident with a table saw, this kind of blade can cut heavy chunks out of fingers and hands.
Because of these wide cuts, healing is very difficult or even impossible.
Also, not all table saws will be equipped to use dado blades.

Safety first!

Be prepared for any accidents. Make sure you have a first aid kit in your workshop. Discover how to put together a first aid kit in this article.

Besides knowing if you can use table saw dado blades, you will discover more about this type of saw blade in this article.
Also, you will find an alternative in case you cannot fit dado blades on your table saw or are not allowed to use them in your country.

What makes a dado blade different from a regular saw blade?

Some time ago I wrote another article about regular saw blades and everything you need to know about them. A dado stack is a special type of saw blade used in a table saw.

With a dado saw blade, you can cut a slot in a piece of wood that is much wider than the blade itself.
This is a much more efficient and faster way to cut a slot than any other method
, which I will discuss in more detail in this article.

Just like a saw blade, a table saw dado blade consists of a steel disc with teeth attached to it. The difference is that the teeth on a dado blade are at a greater angle than the blade and are arranged in a unique pattern.
By combining different blades side by side, you can achieve the size you need for your projects.

Perhaps a fun fact: Another name that is used often by woodworkers for a dado stack is slot blades.
The word “dado” is derived from the Latin word for “groove” or “channel.”

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What are the different uses of dado blades?

A table saw is a very versatile tool, but when you combine it with a dado stack, you can do many things that would otherwise be impossible or take a lot of time.

With a dado blade, you can cut a dado, which is a slot or trench in the middle of a piece of wood, that is usually used to hold or conceal objects in the wood.
The trench in the wood is basically a groove and is different in thickness from the rest of the wood.

Another joint that these saw blades can be used for is the rabbit joint. Instead of making the slot in the middle of the wood, it is made along the edge.

You can compare the rabbit joint, the dado joint, and 9 other commonly used joints in a previous article I wrote: 11 Essential Woodworking Joints You Need to Know. Be sure to take a look, in that article, you can download a free poster to hang in your workshop.

What are the different types of dado blades?

Lots of brands like Freud, CMT, Diablo, and many others offer many varieties of dado sets. In your search for the best dado set for you, you need to know that all sets can be grouped in different types.

There are two types of dado blades: stacked dado blade sets or wobble dado blades. These dado blades come in different sizes, from the standard 6 to 7 inches (ca. 18 cm) up to 10 inches (ca. 25 cm).

Stacked dado blades.

As the word implies, a stacked dado knife consists of a set of blades arranged side by side to form a thicker blade.

Not all the blades in this set are the same.
The name for these middle blades is shipper blades.
These blades have a much smaller number of teeth than the outer blades. Depending on the width of the slot you want to make, blades can be added or removed.

The two outer blades contain more teeth, which ensure that the edge of the sawed slot is clean.

To make micro-adjustments for added precision, shims will be included when buying most dado blade sets.
These shims are small discs of metal or plastic that can be placed between the blades.
Shims come in different sizes, such as 0.1 mm, 0.2 mm, 0.3 mm, and 0.5 mm.

Wobble dado blades.

A wobble dado blade looks like an atypical saw blade.
With a normal saw blade, the alignment has to be as perfect as possible to get the best result.

With a wobble dado saw blade, it’s the other way around.
These saw blades have an offset rotation.
Because of this staggered rotation, this type of dado blade makes a swinging or wobbling motion during use, hence the name wobble dado blade.

By adjusting the sides of the blade, you can determine the width of the slot. The biggest disadvantage of this type of blade is that they cause a lot of vibration when you are working. So make sure you have your table saw well anchored!

Which countries do allow the use of dado blades?

Dado blade sets can’t just be used like that.
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that in some countries of the world, the use of dado blades is forbidden. As I mentioned earlier in this article, this is due to the high risk of injury.

In the following countries, the use of dado blades is illegal:

  • Ireland
  • Poland
  • Finland
  • Denmark
  • Sweden
  • Netherlands
  • Luxembourg
  • France
  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Greece
  • Cyprus
  • Romania
  • Bulgaria
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Italy
  • Malta
  • Hungary
  • Czech Republic
  • Slovakia
  • Lithuania
  • Latvia
  • Estonia
  • Croatia

After some research, I could not find a definite answer whether dado blades are illegal in some countries.
If you are a citizen and know the answer for sure, feel free to contact me and I will adjust this list.

These are the countries where it is not clear if dado blades are illegal or not:

  • Norway
  • Russia
  • Switzerland
  • Lichtenstein
  • Iceland

Do you need a special table saw to use dado blades?

In short, yes, you need a modified table saw to use dado blades.
The only difference between this and a normal table saw is that the table saw on which dado blades can be used will have a longer arbor.

Therefore, all table saws intended for sale in countries where the use of jigsaw blades is illegal will be intentionally equipped with short arbors to prevent the use of dado blades.

However, if you live in a country where it is allowed to use dado blades, and you want to know if you can use dado blades on your table saw, you need to measure the length of the arbor.

Arbor lengths are never the same, even between saws of the same brand this can vary.

However, there is a simple way to calculate if an arbor is long enough for your dado blade set.
First, take the maximum width of the dado set you can stack.
Now measure the length that the hub takes up.
From this, subtract the overall length of the dado blade set and the thickness of the arbor nut.

Many brands like DeWalt, Milwaukee, SawStop, and many others offer table saws with longer arbors.
If you want an overview of the best table saws for a small workshop, check out this article of mine: 5 affordable table saws for a woodworking beginner + checklist.

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Do you really need a dado blade?

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against dado blades. But, do you really need one? This is a question I asked myself when I was first starting and found out that in my country (Belgium) it is not allowed to use this kind of saw blades.

So did that mean I could not make dado cuts at all?
Well, not exactly. I had to learn that there are many other ways to make dados.

The first alternative way to make dados is to use a router for this task.
If you use a straight router bit and set it to the right depth, you can make perfect dados.

These straight router bits come in a variety of thicknesses, and if you are lucky, you’ll find one that will cut a slot the width you need for your project. If not, this can be simply solved by making several passes.
If you want to know more about router bits, be sure to read a previous article of mine about the top 5 most important must-have router bits for DIYers.

How can I dado without a dado blade?

You can also use a regular saw blade instead of a dado blade.
The only disadvantage is that this takes a little more time, and you have to be very precise.

By setting your saw blade to the correct depth, just like a dado blade, you can make a dado by making several cuts side by side. After each cut, you will need to adjust the fence of the table saw so that the next cut is right next to the previous cut.

To make this process faster and more accurate, you can use a dado maker.
You can buy these for a reasonable price, like this one on Amazon, or you can make them yourself.
I have already made two versions of the Dado Maker.
Be sure to check them out and find the one you can make yourself.
To help you out, there are free plans for each model on these pages that you can download easily and quickly.

Here you will find these dado Makers:

Super simple DIY dado maker / kerfmaker | FREE PLANS
DIY kerfmaker for perfect dados & grooves | FREE PLANS

Conclusion

Dado blades are versatile tools and there are 2 types of dado blades from which you can choose the one you prefer.
They can be a huge time saver if you have many dados to make.

However, be aware that in many countries it is illegal to use this type of blade and not all table saws have the correct arbor for these sets of dado blades.

There are some alternatives, such as working with a router and a straight router or using a dado maker.

PS, It is important to know when your saw blade is dull to continue working effectively and safely. So, read my article, how do I know when my table saw blade is dull? In that article, you will find surprising features that you can look out for that you did not know yet!


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