How to Make a Dado with a Kerfmaker in 10 Easy Steps

Creating a precise dado joint is critical for many woodworking endeavors; it can be the factor that makes or breaks your project. Fortunately, using a kerfmaker tool can simplify the entire process. I’ll walk you through how to make a dado with a kerfmaker, plus offer tips and advice along the way.

To properly create a dado with a kerfmaker, select the appropriate material, mark the desired depth, and adjust the tool. After that, make one cut, followed by another; if necessary, make a third pass. Finally, smooth out the edges of the dado by sanding and test its fit. Read this article and I’ll show you in detail how to make a dado with a kerfmaker.

Creating a dado using a kerfmaker can be intimidating, but have no fear; it is an achievable feat for woodworkers of any level. This article provides an all-encompassing guide to making a dado with a kerfmaker, from detailed instructions and advice to alternatives for cutting the said dado.

Disclosure: At zero cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. I earn from qualifying purchases as an Amazon associate. Products featured are selected based on quality, performance, and reputation, regardless of affiliate relationships.

What is a Kerfmaker

A kerf maker is an instrument utilized in woodworking to make exact grooves in a workpiece. It is composed of a cutting edge that can be set to the desired width and moved along the workpiece to produce a slit, or kerf. This tool is regularly used to form slots or grooves, like those necessary for constructing a dado joint.

HONGDUI JF15 Kerfmaker Table Saw Slot Adjuster Mortise and Tenon Tool

Check out more details and prices of this product by clicking the link below.

Can You Make Your own Kerfmaker?

Creating your own kerfmaker is very achievable for all woodworking enthusiasts. To do so, you must possess some basic woodworking skills and have certain tools like a saw, drill and clamps at hand.

You can either get creative and come up with your own design or utilize the plans that are available in my article DIY Kerfmaker For Perfect Dados & Grooves | FREE PLANS. That is the one you will see me using in the pictures below.

Ebook part 1 woodworking basics

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Make a Dado with a Kerfmaker

How to Make a Dado With a Kerfmaker – Preparation

Choose the Right Material – When selecting the material for your project, it is vital that it is suitable and able to sustain the load. Popular choices include hardwoods such as maple or oak, and manufactured woods like MDF or plywood.

How to Make a Dado with a Kerfmaker in 10 Easy Steps

Mark the Depth of the Dado – Before performing any cuts, it is vital to understand the precise depth of the dado that you intend to create. By utilizing a pencil or knife, draw a line on the workpiece to denote the exact depth of the desired dado. After marking the depth of the dado, you can use this as a reference to set up the hight of the saw blade.

How to Make a Dado with a Kerfmaker in 10 Easy Steps - Mark the depth and sides of the dado
Mark the depth and sides of the dado

Adjust the Kerfmaker – Now it is time to set up the kerfmaker. I’ll explain you how to do this:

  1. By using a kerfmaker and square, I can precisely gauge the thickness of the saw blade. I lay the square against the blade before positioning the kerfmaker on the opposite side. Then I push the part of the kerfmaker over the blade against the square. By firmly twisting the knob, I am able to fix the saw blade’s dimensions in position on my kerfmaker.
  2. Now turn over the kerfmaker. Take the piece of wood you want to make the dado for and place it between the jaws of the kerfmaker. Lock down this part and the kerfmaker is set up correctly.
How to Make a Dado with a Kerfmaker in 10 Easy Steps - Set the thickness of the saw blade
Set the thickness of the saw blade
How to Make a Dado with a Kerfmaker in 10 Easy Steps - Set the thickness of the stock
Set the thickness of the stock

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How to Make a Dado With a Kerfmaker – Cutting the Dado

Make the first pass – Position the wooden material against the saw blade and ensure that the marking line is perfectly aligned with the edge of the blade. Subsequently, place the kerfmaker beside it and attach a stop block to it as illustrated in the image.

How to Make a Dado with a Kerfmaker in 10 Easy Steps - Make the first pass
Make the first pass

Make the Second Pass – After the first pass, make a second pass with the kerfmaker. To do this, flip over the kerfmaker over and place it against the stop block, the second cut is automatically determined. Slide the workpiece against the kerfmaker and make the second cut.

How to Make a Dado with a Kerfmaker in 10 Easy Steps - Make the second pass
Make the second pass

Make the Third Pass – Remove the stop block and kerfmaker, then you are ready to begin. Carefully cut away all the wood between the two cuts you made earlier so that the dado can be formed.

How to Make a Dado with a Kerfmaker in 10 Easy Steps - Remove the excess wood
Remove the excess wood

How to Make a Dado With a Kerfmaker – Cleaning Up

Sand the Edges – Using a sanding block, buff out any splinters and roughness along the edges of the dado that has been cut. Begin with P120 coarse-grade sandpaper then progress to finer grits for a perfectly polished look.

How to Make a Dado with a Kerfmaker in 10 Easy Steps - Sand the edges
Sand the edges

Check the Fit – Before proceeding with the subsequent step of your project, assess the fit of the dado to guarantee it is accurate in size and depth. If the dado is too close or too loose, you can easily make slight modifications by sanding down or taking out more material with a chisel.it

How to Make a Dado with a Kerfmaker in 10 Easy Steps - Test the fit
Test the fit

Tips and Tricks

Importance of Measuring – Accuracy is paramount when it comes to crafting a dado. Prior to making any cuts, take the time to double check your measurements and adjust the kerfmaker width as appropriate for the intended dado.

Importance of Safety – It is critical to adhere to the right safety regulations when operating a kerfmaker or any power tool so as to prevent any harm. Such precautions include wearing protective eyewear, ear protection, and ensuring that the working material is securely affixed before initiating any cutting action.

Pro Tip

Be prepared to accidents by having a first aid kit in your workshop. In my article How To Make A Workshop First Aid Kit – N°1 Guide | FREE CHECKLIST You will find all the details to assemble the perfect first aid kit for woodworking.

Alternative Methods for Cutting a Dado – Exploring a variety of techniques can help you determine the best way to cut a dado. For instance, a table saw with a dado stack, router or miter saw with depth stop could all do the job; however, each comes with its own advantages and drawbacks.

  1. Table saw with dado blades: In some countries, the sale or use of a dado blade is illegal due to safety regulations. This is because a dado blade is a type of saw blade that can cut wide grooves using two or more circular saw blades stacked side-by-side. Because of the potential danger posed by these blades when used by an inexperienced user, many countries have imposed strict restrictions on their use or sale. To know if you can purchase and/or use a dado blade in your area, please check out my article Can I Use Dado Blades On My Table Saw? Solved!
  2. Using a miter saw with depth stop: Creating a dado with a miter saw and depth stop involves setting up the saw to cut at an angle of 90 degrees and adjusting the depth stop until it reaches the desired depth. Once these have been done, you can start to cut the sides of your dado. To finish off, multiple passes are needed between the two cuts made earlier to remove any remaining wood. Not all Miter saws have a depth stop. If you want one that has this function, I can recommend the Kapex 120 from Festool. I have this miter saw myself and you can read my honest thoughts about it in my article Festool Kapex KS 120 REB Review: Is This the Best Miter Saw Ever?
  3. Router with a straight bit: This is in my opinion one of the best alternatives to dado blades as it can create dados very fast. With the correct router bit size, you can make a dado of the correct width and depth in just one or two passes. To see how you Do this, check out my step-by-step guide Learn How to Cut Dados with a Router in 5 Easy Steps

Making a dado with a kerfmaker can produce professional-looking results in woodworking projects. With the help of this article and its useful advice, you can confidently construct attractive, practical dado joints effortlessly.

P.S. if you don’t own a kerfmaker, scroll back to the alternative ways and click through to the articles to learn more.

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