How to Cut a Dado Joint with Hand Tools

//How to Cut a Dado Joint with Hand Tools

In my above video I show how to cut a simple dado joint with basic woodworking hand tools. What is a dado joint used for? A dado joint is used for securing shelves inside cabinets or book shelves.

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TOOLS THAT YOU’LL NEED

Even though I have a nice tool buying guide (here), I’m still often asked for links to the tools that I use in my videos, so here is a list of tools that I used in this video:

WORKBENCH:

HAND PLANES:

HAND SAWS:

CHISELS:

MARKING & MEASURING:

MALLETS & HAMMERS:

CUTTING THE DADO JOINT

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In the dado video I show these basic steps:

  • Use a marking gauge to determine the distance of your dado joint from the edge of the board.
  • Hold the shelf piece against the other board, and hold the workpiece down with 1 or 2 holdfasts
  • Scribe the shelf piece onto the other board with a marking knife. This ensures a tight fit. Make a pencil mark so you’ll remember which edge goes into the joint.
  • Remove the holdfasts and shelf board then use a marking gauge to mark the desired depth of your dado joint: Approximately 1/3 – 1/2 of the way down.
  • Use a marking knife to create trenches for your backsaw
  • Use your cross cut back saw to cut close to your final depth
  • Use a bench chisel (smaller width than your dado joint) to pare out waste, but not all the way to your final depth.
  • Use a router plane (like my Stanley No. 71) to clean up the bottom of the dado joint and bring the joint down to its final depth.
  • Fit the shelf piece

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This is a very simple way to make a dado joint and it’s faster (if making a couple dados) than setting up and shimming a dado stack on a table saw!

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2017-07-21T13:42:14+00:00

About the Author:

Joshua loves mixing his passion for traditional hand tool woodworking with his ability to teach in a simple manner. He lives on a small farm in Earlysville, Virginia with his wife and four children, and builds furniture in his workshop / woodworking school.

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