Dado vs router

Charles Lent

Corporate Member
Dado is much faster as far as rate of removal. I tend to switch to a router or router table when doing smaller and more precision work. My dado blade set is a Freud Dial-A-Width, so fine tuning of the cut width is in 0.004" increments.



Dado is much faster as far as rate of removal. I tend to switch to a router or router table when doing smaller and more precision work. My dado blade set is a Freud Dial-A-Width, so fine tuning of the cut width is in 0.004" increments.


Yep what Charley said. I have an 8” Infinity Dadonator set. Works well for other stuff also like box joints, rabbets (using a sacrificial fence) etc.

Joe Scharle

Corporate Member
If your choices are between a router table or stacked dado blades, then you may as well use the dado stack. However, if you use a dado router jig, then you'll never have a need for a dado stack. One of the truths about plywood is it's inconsistently in thickness and tendency to bow. Put a large piece of plywood on top of a tablesaw and your cut may be deeper on ends than the center.
With a dado jig, you can flex with the bow and cut a dado that is the exact thickness of the mating piece. In fact, the fit test is to put the mating piece into the dado and lift both pieces by the inserted piece to check they are piston fit! Here's what I use for dados up to 32", which allows me to cut all dados in bookcase sides for example, then rip the halves. This one has a clamp built-in, but other examples are simpler.


When making a stack of shelves, just align the jig to your marks and cut away. When you rip the sides off, the dados line up perfectly, like so.

Jelly Cab 1.JPG

Henry W

Senior User
No general rule from me ... it depends on the project. (EDIT - of course Joe beat me to the punch on the exact width dado jig END EDIT).

Most recently I had a project that required use of another technique that was neither router table nor TS dado blade. I had about 6' long side pieces for a shelving unit that would have been a challenge taking the work to the tool (router table or TS); I needed to take the tool to the work, because pieces were so large. I have a reasonably large TS surface, but I think keeping the dado cuts parallel to each other, and perpendicular to the front would have been a challenge without building a large sled. I used an exact width hand held router dado jig (I have an earlier post on this).

Advantage of dado blade is the precise and repeatable width, and the challenge is in achieving that exact width (shims?). Router bits are often used with smaller widths and a double cut - so twice the number cuts to locate and make (precisely).

On smaller pieces - like often used in furniture or boxes - then either can work, but there is no one answer to your question (except that 'it depends'). I have used all of the above (well except I have not used a router table in a mid-piece dado).



Senior User
It is clearly one of those many things were there are more than one good way to do something. I am just using my router at the moment because I destroyed my 8 inch dado stack the first time I went to use it on my PCS - not due to the tool, just me. I've healed up but I am not anxious to dado on this saw when there are other good ways to make the occasional dado. Router bits will dull much more quickly than a dado set but also cost a lot less.

My favorite way to cut dados, especially on anything large, is to use my track saw track and an attachment DeWalt offers for a router. Mine are porter cable 690s but the jig is flexible and can use many brands of routers. The track saw track guides the router so the cut is straight. Getting the offset right is a bit of a hassle but the jig has a fine adjust knob which helps.

For a small dado like for a drawer bottom, I just make 2-3 passes with the regular table saw blade. Takes less time than putting in the dado cartridge and dado set. To me that is the biggest drawback of the table saw with a dado set. The setup time is not insignificant. Worth it if you have a lot of fairly large dados but not really worth it to me when they are narrow or there aren't many.

I bought some undersize - less than 3/4 by 1/32 - router bits when I started doing this. Often that saves making two passes.


Phillip Cooper
Corporate Member
I have both the dado stack and router table, and I like the router better for the finish I get. I don't get a clean cutout with my dado stack because of the arbor on my saw, otherwise I'd be using the dado much more often.

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Depends on wahat you want to do.
I have both but i tend to use the dado stack more.

If there are a lot of cuts to make, the table saw stack dado is far more efficient. The same number of wide cuts on a hand router fixed under a table is pretty abusive on the router.
Maybe the scale of the work could be a big factor. Jewelry boxes are one thing, a bunch of shop cabinet drawer sides is quite another.
I think the setup and tooling change out time is likely to be the same.
As a rabbeting or grooving tool, the stack dado will last longer and run cooler because there are more cutting teeth. The tip end of a router bit only has a miniscule cutting area in comparison.

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New User
Depends on the job at hand but unless your router table is exceptional you'll get more accurate results with your table saw, plus since cutting a dado removes a lot of waste the table saw will be more efficient and may leave a cleaner cut depending on the bit in your router. I generally prefer the table saw for case construction for though dados and rabbits, but stopped dados are best done with a router (either on the table or with a plunge router). Cutting tenons with a dado set on the table saw is preferred. Like anything there are many ways to accomplish the same task, if you have both options available you'll discover what works best for you as well as the pitfalls and advantages of each.


Senior User
I take issue with the assertion that the setup time is similar. Especially with my SawStop, setting up the dado blade takes a LOT longer. You have to change cartridges plus install the dado blades, make a test cut, adjust the with, make another test cut, etc.. By contrast, I can have the router set up before I can change cartridges. It takes me a couple minutes to get the router positioned in the track saw jig so it can ride that track if I am cutting in the middle of a board. Setting up the router table is super quick and easy. To be fair, a wide deep dado is multiple passes with a router, however, and easily one cut with the table saw.

But purely setup is quicker with a router. To me the dado blade is only indicated when you have a bunch of dados to cut. One or a few router territory. But I am also aware that others may set up a dado blade quicker than I did.

I consider the dado cut a significant disadvantage of a SawStop. Changing cartridges is an infrequent event for me and thus one I cannot do quickly and easily. Adding that to the normal issue of getting the dado blades installed right and with the right shims and cutters is added hassle I do not need. I used a dado blade more on my previous saws but am not anxious to try again on my SawStop. Too much of a hassle. But it is a necessary part of their protection scheme.

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
I guess if safety is an issue, one can always use a power feeder. It sure does increase accuracy. I've even had my old King EZ Feed mounted on a router table.


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