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Rabbet Vs Dado Vs Groove (What’s What & How to Make Them)


Rabbet vs dado vs groove… What’s the difference, anyway? Isn’t this the same thing? Believe me when I say that you are not the only one who has doubts about what is true. These three sorts of slots are frequently misnamed. As a result, you will finally learn the difference between a Rabbet vs dado vs groove in this post.

A rabbet is an L-shaped slot carved into the wood’s side, creating a lip. A dado is a U-shaped slot in the center of a piece of wood that goes across the grain. A groove is similar to a dado, with the exception that it runs parallel to the grain.

All three slots are designed to fit the second piece of material and secure the connection. It’s a common method for building cabinets, but it can also be utilized in a variety of other situations. As a result, knowing the differences between a Rabbet vs dado vs groove is critical for your projects.

Why are rabbets, dados, and grooves used in woodworking?

Dados, grooves, and rabbets are some of the simplest joints in woodworking and have been widely used in cabinet construction for many years. Cabinetmakers love these types of joints because they provide stronger connections that are simple and quick to make.

Due to the straight wall and a flat bottom of these connections, they provide a strong connection between two panels. When dados and grooves are cut to the perfect size, glue is in some cases superfluous because of the friction created by sliding the parts together.

These connections are popular not only in the production of cabinets. This simple connection is so quick and easy to make that the application possibilities are actually limitless. If you know what each connection means and how to make them by the end of this article, you will undoubtedly start using them more and more.

Rabbet vs dado vs groove explained

To help you see the differences between the Rabbet vs dado vs groove, I will discuss and illustrate them in detail one by one. That way you know exactly which joint is what, and you can apply the right way in your project.

What is a rabbet?

Because the rabbet joints are distinct from the dado and groove, I’ll start with them. Rebated joints are recesses or steps cut into the side of the wood rather than the center, as with dado and groove joints (more on this later). Rabbet joints can be carved either transversely or parallel to the grain.

11 essential types of woodworking joints you need to know _ FREE POSTER
Rabbet vs dado vs grooveRabbet joint

What is a rabbet used for?

In other terms, a rabbet is a lip created by a groove or dado on the edge of your wood piece. That lip might be designed to fit into a groove, or it could be used to connect two pieces of wood. Cabinet makers who manufacture cabinets with panels frequently employ the rabbet connection.

Because you may use both screws and glue to secure the components together, this connection is incredibly convenient. When two panels are joined with a butt joint, the result is a weaker connection.

How to make a rabbet?

Rabbet vs dado vs groove - Rabbet plane
Rabbet vs dado vs grooveRabbet plane

To make rabbet joints, you can use a variety of equipment. You can utilize both hand tools, such as a modified rabbet plane, and electrical tools. A table saw and router are both excellent tools for this, while a miter saw can be used as well.

The rabbet plane is actually pretty simple to operate. You move the rabbet plane over the chosen region until it reaches the required depth. Learning how to accomplish this correctly will require some practice.

You have two options when using a table saw. Begin by marking the location of the rabbet, both in terms of width and depth. Then, by moving the wood over the table saw along the fence, make a cut at the mark showing the width of the rabbet. You now have two options for cutting out the rest of the rabbet. You may either keep using this procedure by cutting away all the leftover wood in numerous passes, or you can reset the fence, rotate the wood 90 degrees, and make a cut at the short end.

Rabbets Q&A

Can you rabbet plywood?

Yes! It will make your shelf stronger than using hardware, and at the same time ensure a seamless connection between the two pieces.
An extra advantage is that a rabbet joint hides the end cut in the plywood, which ensures a much better appearance of the piece.

rabbet vs dado, what’s the difference?

A rabbet is made on the side of the wood and has an L-shape, while a dado (or groove) is made in the wood and has a U-shape.

Is a rabbet joint strong?

The rabbet joint is much stronger than a simple butt joint. This is because the L-shape of the rabbet supports the joint better. Adding glue can make this joint even stronger.


What is a Dado Joint?

Dados are cross-grain grooves carved into the wood. The slot’s width will always be determined by the thickness of the wood you’re connecting. The slot will always be the exact width of the wood that must be inserted into it. If the dado is too small, it will be difficult to connect and may cause harm if the wood shrinks or expands. A dado joint is created by removing a piece of wood from the front. A dado joint will typically be around 1/3 the thickness of the wood.

The dado comes in two forms: the regular dado and the stopped dado.
A dado runs the length of the board from one end to the other, whereas a stopped dado starts on one end and ends before reaching the other.

To make dado joints, you’ll need the right tools, more about this later. If you’re going to build a dado, make sure it’s big enough to hold the linked wood. However, you don’t want to cut too deeply because you risk damaging the wood’s structural integrity and increasing the chances of it breaking in this location. Another fascinating fact: in the United Kingdom and Europe, they are also known as ditches.

11 essential types of woodworking joints you need to know _ FREE POSTER
Rabbet vs dado vs grooveDado joint
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What is a Dado used for?

As one of the most basic wood joints, dado joints are used in a variety of projects, the most well-known of which are bookcases. Dado joints are used to join the bookcase shelves to the larger piece of wood, also called the carcass. It’s also used in a variety of furniture and cabinetry.

How to make Dado Joints?

Rabbet vs dado vs groove - Router plane
Rabbet vs dado vs grooveRouter plane

Hand tools like the router plane, sometimes known as the dado plane, can be used to make dado joints. Using power tools like a router or table saw to manufacture dados is another option. Using a hand instrument like a router to route a dado connection is simple and uncomplicated. Making a dado with a table saw is a little more difficult, but it’s still achievable for a skilled carpenter.

Most well-known tool manufacturers sell special dado blades that can make the job a lot easier. However, not all countries allow dado set saw blades for table saws. I wrote a blog post about this previously, which you may read to see if dado saw blades are legal in your country. For further details, see my post: “Can I Use Dado Blades On My Table Saw? Solved!

Cutting a dado joint with a table saw involves setting the blade to the required depth and adjusting the distance of the fence from the blade. When using the dado saw blade, the dado can be made in one move. When no dado blade is allowed, you will have to move the fence after each pass until the dado is the desired width. I made a simple tool to solve this problem. You can see how I have built it in my article, “Super Simple DIY Dado Maker / Kerfmaker | FREE PLANS”. There, you can follow step-by-step instructions on how to build this jig. If you want to see me build it, you can watch my video on YouTube here.

Dado’s Q&A

Are dado joints strong?

Yes, dado joints are extremely strong and can support a lot of weight, even without gluing them. That is the reason cabinetmakers use this technique to make shelves in furniture.
By adding glue to the joint, you can make the joint even stronger and more reliable.

How deep should you cut a dado?

To maintain the strength of the wood, the ideal depth of a dado is 1/3 of the thickness of the wood. Try to respect this rule, but in exceptional cases, never go deeper than 50% of the thickness of your wood. This will reduce the power of your work.

Will a dado blade fit any table saw?

No! In several countries, using dado blades is prohibited. Furthermore, in places where dado blades are prohibited, the table saw arbor has been modified to prevent this type of saw blade from fitting on it.

how to make a dado cut without a dado blade

You will need to mark a start and endpoint and reset the fence to the correct distance based on that. In order to clear all the material between these two cuts, you will have to reset the fence with each cut, albeit not as precisely as with the outer cuts.

To work faster and easier, you can make a dado maker. I made two variations of this. Earlier in this article, I linked to one model. The second model, along with free plans, can be found in my blog, “DIY Kerfmaker For Perfect Dados & Grooves | FREE PLANS”.


What is a groove?

The distinction between a groove and a dado is minor. Dado joints are produced by cutting straight through the grain of the wood, as you may have noticed in the text above. Grooves, on the other hand, are created by cutting the wood parallel to the grain.
Grooves are cut in the same way as dado’s and serve the same mounting and functional objectives.

What is a groove in wood used for?

For the back wall, a groove is frequently used on the back of cabinets. The cabinet’s side panels have a slot into which the back wall can be slid. This enables a smooth connection as well as a secure and closed cabinet.

Grooves can also be found in joints, like the tongue and groove. The groove is half of the connection and ensures that the tongue (the protruding element of the opposite profile) fits perfectly in it for a secure fit.

The tongue and groove joint is mostly used to link similar-sized hardwood planks to form a bigger panel. Tabletops, for example, are made up of multiple pieces of wood that are linked together to form one enormous tabletop. Tongue and groove is also used to install a wooden wall or ceiling paneling.

How to make a groove in wood?

Grooves and dados are manufactured in the same way, since the only variation between them is the direction of cut on the wood. Grooves can be cut using either manual tools, such as a router plane, or power tools. A table saw (with a dado blade in places where it is permissible) or a router with a straight cutting router bit are the best tools for the job.

When using a router to make a groove (or also a dado), make sure you have a fence that you can slide the router around. This ensures a straight cut. Straight-cutting router bits are available in different diameters so that you can adapt them to the width of the slot you need. For more information, please visit my article, 5 Most Important Must-Have Router Bits For DIYers | Best Buy Guide.

When cutting, make sure that you also only remove 1/3 of the thickness of the wood here. This assures you of a strong construction. Also, keep about 0.4 in. (1 cm) from the edge of the wood. This ensures that the wood is strong enough and cannot tear when pressure is placed on the joint.

Dado’s Q&A

Can I cut a groove with a circular saw?

When it comes to creating grooves (or dados) in wood, you can use a circular saw. While using a table saw or router to cut a groove is advised for simplicity of use and safety, a circular saw is a cost-effective tool that may fit into anyone’s budget.

How do you cut a groove in a 2×4?

The best, and safest way to make a groove in a 2×4 is with the table saw. Mark the opening of the groove on the wood and use this as a reference to set the fence. Once the outer cuts are made, repeat the steps to clear all the wood in between.

Rabbet vs dado vs groove – conclusion

It can be very confusing to know the differences between Rabbet vs dado vs groove. You can struggle with this, especially as a beginner. But actually, this is not as difficult as thought. I’m pretty sure you will have noticed that from this article. Remember that a rabbet is actually a slot that sits on the side of the wood, a dado is a slot that runs across the grain, and a groove is a slot that runs along with the grain. There you go, this way the Rabbet vs dado vs groove issue is finally resolved for you.


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