How to Make a Dado Cut with a Miter Saw – a Quick 5-Step Guide

Woodworkers, particularly those tackling joinery projects, find using dado joints an indispensable technique. Perfectly executed dado cuts can significantly improve the look and performance of any endeavor. A miter saw is one of the most functional and multipurpose power tools in a carpenter’s toolkit; it can be great for making a flawless dado cut.

How to Make a Dado Cut with a Miter Saw: In order to create a dado cut with a miter saw, you must first install a blade, measure and mark the necessary area of the cut, adjust the saw for appropriate depth and finally make several passes, beginning on the outside and gradually cutting away wood from the interior portion of the cut.

In this informative blog post, we’ll delve into all the necessary steps and provide helpful advice on how to make a dado cut with a miter saw or radial arm saw. Additionally, other methods such as utilizing a table saw or router will be discussed. This article is bound to have something of interest for experienced and beginner woodworkers alike. So keep reading to become well-versed in making a dado cut with a miter saw!

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Understanding the Dado Cut

Definition of a Dado Cut

A dado cut, a form of woodworking joint, entails cutting a trench or channel into a board to form a groove. This groove is then used to join two timber pieces in order to generate an unshakeable and secure bond. The measurement of the depth and width of the dado cut differs based on the thickness of the wood, the particular task, and the type of joint being forged.

How to Make a Dado Cut with a Miter Saw
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Types of Dado Cuts

There are several types of dado cuts, including:

  • Through dado: A through dado extends completely through the width of the board, creating an opening that allows the adjacent piece of wood to be inserted.
  • Stopped dado: A stopped dado is a dado that ends before reaching the edge of the wood, creating a groove that does not extend to the end of the piece.
  • Rabbet: A rabbet is actually a dado that is made on the side of a panel. To know more about the differences, check out my article Rabbet Vs Dado Vs Groove (What’s What & How to Make Them). Just like a dado, you can make a rabbet cut with miter saws.
How to Make a Dado Cut with a Miter Saw - Through dado
Through dado
How to Make a Dado Cut with a Miter Saw - Stopped dado
Stopped dado
How to Make a Dado Cut with a Miter Saw - Rabbet

The Importance of Accuracy When Making a Dado Cut With a miter Saw

The precision of the dado cut is vitally important in guaranteeing the firmness and steadiness of the finished joint. If the cut is not properly done, it can lead to a poor fit between pieces of timber, producing a feeble or unsteady joint.

Furthermore, an inexact dado cut can spoil the look of the final product, hence it is essential to devote due attention and care to make sure that it is correctly made.

Why is a Miter Saw a Good Tool for Making a Dado Cut?

The miter saw is a hugely beneficial tool for carpentry and woodworking, offering unparalleled accuracy in its cuttings. It can create dado cuts to a very exacting standard, and with the added ability to tilt and rotate, angled cuts become much more straightforward.

However, there is a small caveat. For cutting dados with a miter saw it must be equipped with a depth stop. Not every miter saw has this. My older and cheaper saw didn’t have this, but my newer Festool Kapex120 has it. If you’re looking for a new miter saw, this is in addition to the tips you can find in my article What Miter Saw Do I Need? 11 Tips to Find the Best Miter Saw is one of the features to look forward to.
To read my honest thoughts about the miter saw I have in my workshop, check out my in depth review article Festool Kapex KS 120 REB Review: Is This the Best Miter Saw Ever?

If you already have a saw that doesn’t have this feature, you can always make a DIY miter saw depth stop by placing a block between the moving parts of the saw.

Can You use Dado Blades on a Miter Saw?

As far as I know, it is not possible to place dado stack blades on sliding miter saws. I strongly advise against trying this, as it can be risky. Extra saw blades may hit the blade guard, posing a hazard to the operator. To keep safe, it’s wiser to stick with the original blade for cutting on a sliding miter saw and follow the methods mentioned in this article.

Pro Tip

A miter saw is a versatile tool. Most think they can only cut wood, while others think outside the box and use this tool for other applications. Do you want to discover the possibilities of this great saw? Then be sure to check out my article Can You Cut Aluminum with a Miter Saw? the Most Complete Guide.

How to Make a Dado Cut with a Miter Saw

Preparing Your Miter Saw for a Dado Cut

How to Make a Dado Cut with a Miter Saw (2)

When performing a dado cut with a miter saw, it is imperative to select the correct blade type. To find the right blade for your saw, I earlier wrote this guide.

Installing the blade on a compound miter saw is easy, but it needs to be done carefully as instructions must be followed precisely in order to protect both yourself and the saw from harm. Here are some basic steps for achieving this:

  1. Unplug the saw from the power source.
  2. Remove the blade guard and blade washer from the arbor.
  3. Place the blade onto the arbor with the teeth facing in the correct direction.
  4. Replace the blade washer and tighten the arbor nut to secure the blade.
  5. Lower the blade guard.

When changing the blade on a miter saw, it is essential to take necessary safety measures. Disconnect the power source and don protective gloves, eye gear, and follow guideline instructions for proper installation. This helps safeguard against sharp incisions and debris that may be tossed in your direction.

How to Make a Dado Cut with a Miter Saw

Step#1: Measuring and Marking the Wood For the Cut

How to Make a Dado Cut with a Miter Saw - Measuring and marking were you want to cut the dado
Measuring and marking were you want to cut the dado

To ensure the accuracy of the miter saw dado cut, it is essential to measure and mark the wood before cutting dados with a miter saw. Begin by taking the width and depth measurements and indicating these on the material. Then, take a square and draw a line along the length of the piece, specifying where the cut should be made.

Step#2: Adjusting the Miter Saw for the Depth of the Cut

How to Make a Dado Cut with a Miter Saw - Activating the depth stop
Activating the depth stop

Before executing the cut, it is essential to configure the miter saw for the correct depth. The depth for cutting dados with a miter saw will be contingent on the thickness of the timber and what type of joinery is being implemented.

To modify the depth of the cut, unfasten the locking knob and regulate the height of the blade until it reaches your desired measurement. Subsequently, fasten the locking knob securely to affix the blade into place.

Step#3: Making the Cut

How to Make a Dado Cut with a Miter Saw - Make the first cut
Make the first cut

Once the miter saw is ready and your lines are marked, clamp the lumber in position to ensure it won’t move whilst cutting dados with a miter saw. Then, power on the saw and gradually guide it along the marked line. Move with caution to guarantee that the cut is precise and consistent.

How to Make a Dado Cut with a Miter Saw - Make the second cut
Make the second cut

Repeat this step on the other side of the dado and afterward you can remove the rest of the material by making several cust one next to the other until all the material is gone and you have a perfectly made dado.

How to Make a Dado Cut with a Miter Saw - Remove all excess wood
Remove all excess wood

Step#4: Cleaning Up the Edges of the Cut

Once the cut has been made, use a chisel or sandpaper to refine the edges of the dado cut. Careful attention should be paid to avoid over-sanding, as this can diminish the strength of the joint. Once the edges are smoothed out, check that the cut is sized and shaped accordingly by testing how well it fits together.

How to Make a Dado Cut with a Miter Saw - Clean the edges of the cut
Clean the edges of the cut

Pro Tip

Achieving success with a miter saw is achievable and rewarding, but you must be prepared for any undesired events or dangers. That’s why we created this guide to assembling the ideal workshop first aid kit, so you can have peace of mind during your projects. In our article “How To Put Together A Workshop First Aid Kit– Essential Guide | FREE CHECKLIST,” we’ll detail exactly what should be in your pack, how to organize it, and how to keep it supplied all the time.

Alternative Methods for Making a Dado Cut

Using a Table Saw With Dado Blades

A table saw is another popular tool employed to produce dado cuts. This process demands that the height of the blade be adjusted to the required depth and then the rip fence is used to slide the timber along the cutting line. Compared to a miter saw, it is more exact and useful for cutting longer lengths. Nonetheless, it carries an increased risk as the cutting edge is exposed and wood passes quickly through the saw.

On a table saw you can use dado blades. However, in some countries, it is illegal to use them. Check out my article Can I Use Dado Blades On My Table Saw? Solved! to see if a dado blade for table saws is allowed to use in your area.

Using a Router

A router is an optimal choice for creating aesthetically pleasing or intricate dadoes. You can employ a straight bit for the typical cut or a dado bit for wider, more intricate cuts. To make the cut, simply adjust the router bit to the appropriate depth, firmly secure your piece of wood in place and steadily guide your router following your marked line.

To see how to make a dado using a router, you can check out my step by step guide Learn How to Make Dados with a Router in 5 Easy Steps

Using a Kerfmaker

A kerfmaker is an invaluable tool used to make accurate dados. It works best when using it on the crosscut sled. In my article How to Make a Dado with a Kerfmaker in 10 Easy Steps You will discover all you need to know about the kerfmaker, plus a handy step by step guide on how to use it.

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How to Make a Dado Cut with a Miter Saw – Conclusion

In this article, I have outlined the necessities for achieving a dado cut using a miter saw – including prepping the saw, measuring and marking the wood, accomplishing the cut, and tidying up the borders. We have additionally explored alternate approaches to making a dado cut such as using a table saw, router and kerfmaker.

The benefits and drawbacks of all approaches to dadoing vary, thus the most suitable method for you is contingent on the kind of project you’re building and your own inclinations.

There are a lot of cool things to do with a miter saw and miter saw hacks, and one of them is that it can be utilized to effectuate a dado cut, chiefly for amateur woodworkers or those engaged in modest jobs. Nevertheless, more experienced woodcrafters could rather opt for a table saw or router for more precise cuts.

No matter which approach you select, the formula for producing impeccable dado cuts is to possess patience, accurately assess and draw your lines of cut, and to utilize a guide or barrier for keeping the wood steady during the cut.

Therefore, don’t hesitate when experimenting with different methods to uncover the one that functions best for you! With practice and experience, you’ll become a specialist in crafting precise and exact dado cuts.

It is essential to be aware of safety precautions when using a miter saw in order to make precise and accurate cuts while keeping yourself safe. To see more and gain insight into the most critical rules of miter saw safety, be sure to refer to our comprehensive article, “10 Miter Saw Safety Rules You Must Know.

Within this article, we outline the most important guidelines for using this powerful tool and provide handy tips for getting optimal results. Whether you are a seasoned woodworker or just starting out with a miter saw, this information is vital for anyone seeking to operate one with confidence. Make sure not to overlook it!

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