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Last updated: February 01, 2021
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A common need when working with wood is to cut joints and grooves that allow you to fit two pieces of wood together. A dado blade, a circular blade that is specifically designed for cutting out rectangular grooves, makes it quick and easy to accomplish these cuts with your circular saw. The result is that having a dado blade saves you a huge amount of time and makes your woodworking safer by having the right tool for the job.
In order to find the best dado blade on the market today, we considered several important features. We looked at the size of different blades and the number of teeth, which affect the depth and coarseness of the cuts as well as the compatibility with your circular or radial-arm saw. We also considered the arbor of the blade, which must be compatible with the arbor of your saw. Lastly, we considered what is included with the blade set, including a warranty and the number of chippers and their build quality.
We spent 50 hours researching dado blades, poring through technical specifications and customer reviews, in order to find the best blade sets. The result is our six favorite dado blades, listed in the table below. Continue reading for reviews of each dado blade, complete with pros and cons. Our buying guide covers everything you need to know about how to choose the dado blade that is right for your saw and woodworking style. Finally, we sum up our three favorite dado blades on the market today.
Dewalt is one of the best-known names in hardware, and this eight-inch stacked dado blade set lives up to their reputation for quality. Users compare this blade to those manufactured by Dado King that cost nearly twice as much based on the quality of the cuts it makes and the longevity of the blade itself. The outer blades each have 24 teeth that produce extremely smooth cuts without splintering, while the four-tooth winged chippers keep the weight of the dado blade set down so that it can be used with nearly any 10-inch table saw. The chippers produce extremely smooth bottoms to the cuts so that joining is straightforward following making the groove.
The blade comes with a set of stainless steel shims that we appreciated for how easy they make it to adjust the width of the cuts and how precise the cut widths are. In addition, users rave about the case that the blade comes in, noting that it is far superior to the cases that come with eight-inch blades that cost far more and can be used long beyond the lifespan of this dado. With the solid carbide construction, the blade lasts most non-professional users for years without the edges dulling.
Dewalt also offers a 30-day money back guarantee on the blade and users note that the customer service is excellent when reporting issues with blades that arrive damaged.
Priced at under $100, this eight-inch stacked dado blade from Oshlun is an incredible bargain for the cutting power it provides and the quality of the construction. The blade is made from professional-grade C-4 carbide, which lasts significantly longer than the stainless steel construction found on many similarly priced dado blades. With 42 teeth in the outer blades, this blade is capable of cutting extremely smooth edges so that you don’t run into unwanted wood slivers when joining your boards. Note that the blade does produce slight score marks on the outside edges of the cut, however, in order to prevent splintering as you cut deeper.
In addition, users highly recommend using a zero-clearance plate on your saw to help prevent the blade from wobbling. The chippers are also well-equipped for cutting with six teeth each, although this does increase the weight of the blade significantly so that you will need a belt-driven saw with at least a 1.5-horsepower motor to safely operate the blade.
This dado blade is capable of cutting grooves ranging in width from 1/4-inches to 29/32-inches and can easily be adjusted to the exact width you need using the included shim set. The blade set comes with its own storage case, which is a nice addition given the modest price of this dado blade. In addition, Oshlun offers a lifetime warranty, although few users report taking the company up on this, since the construction of the blade is quite sturdy.
For professional woodworkers in need of a highly precise dado blade that won’t wear down over time, it is hard to beat the price and quality of this blade set from Freud. While other, less expensive dado blades are constructed from C-4 carbide or stainless steel, Freud uses a high-density blend of titanium cobalt that lasts significantly longer and holds its edge so that you get smooth cuts throughout the life of the dado blade. Plus, the blade is coated with a silver I.C.E coating that further prevents wear and tear on the teeth. Users note that the smoothness of the cuts, even with only 24 teeth on the outer blades, is well worth the extra price of this dado blade set for those in need of a perfect cut every time, since it does not leave any ridges in the groove that need to be sanded out afterward.
The blade also features quick adjustability thanks to an included adjustment knob, while the included shim set can be used for fine adjustments of the width of your cut. The six chippers work well to hollow out your cut, while the winged design reduces the overall weight of the dado blade so that it can be used with almost any contractor saw.
The only significant issue that users had with this dado blade was the storage case, which they found to be relatively flimsy for the price of the blade and prone to allowing the carbide blades to bang against each other – which can quickly damage the blades.
This eight-inch stacked dado blade set from Forrest is more than double the price of any other blade set we reviewed, but users will argue that the price is well worth it when perfect grooves are the only acceptable quality. That means that this is a blade set of choice for professional woodworkers. The 24-tooth outer blades produce nearly no marks on the cross-cut faces of the groove, while the negative face hook significantly reduces the probability of wood splintering when working with delicate hardwoods. The six wing-shaped chippers produce cuts with bottoms that are as smooth as if they were sanded, which in turn reduces the amount of time that you need to spend finishing cuts after the dado is done.
The cut widths are extremely precise thanks to the rigidity of the blades, which are tensioned by hand during construction and straightened multiple times during the manufacturing process. Although the C-4 carbide teeth do not last as long as the TiCo teeth found on less expensive blades from Freud, users do not report any issues with the longevity of this dado set.
While the wing shape of the chippers does reduce the weight of this blade set, Forrest and users both recommend restricting use of this dado set to professional-quality miter saws rather than contractor-duty table saws. Thankfully, the blade is designed to work with all makes of single and double miter saws for maximum compatibility with the tools you already have.
What we liked:
Professional-quality, extremely rigid blades
Negative face hook to reduce likelihood of splintering delicate wood
What could be better:
On the pricey side
C-4 carbide does not last as long as other carbide types
This six-inch stacked dado blade from Freud features that manufacturer’s signature high construction quality in a package and at a price that is better suited to newcomers to woodworking and those with small table saws rather than burly contractor saws. The blades each have 10 teeth, which users found was plenty to achieve perfectly smooth cuts without splintering over the shallower cut depths that this blade set is designed for. In addition, like users found for Freud’s eight-inch blade set, the wing-style chippers on this blade set produce perfectly flat grooves with no ridges that need to be sanded out after the cut.
The blade itself is constructed from Freud’s high-quality high-density titanium cobalt carbide and coated with a silver I.C.E coating, which together make this an extremely durable and long-lasting blade for the price. The blade lacks the easy-to-use width adjustment knob found on the larger blade set, but comes with a set of shims for fine adjustments. However, users noted that Freud’s width chart for the shim set was not accurate and the measurements on the shims are difficult to read, so do plan to spend a significant amount of time coming up with your own measurements of how the shims can be used to adjust cut widths.
The blade set comes in a hard plastic case, which can also be used as a safe storage case to protect the blades. However, note that since the case is not fully enclosed, some users opted to further protect the dado blade using an additional plastic storage bin.
This modestly priced eight-inch stacked dado blade set from Irwin Tools is distinguished from competing dado blades by its ability to cut through not only a wide variety of woods, but also through metal. Users report great success using this dado to cut through metal roofing sheets, and the precision of the 12-tooth blades is such that the dado will not even chip the paint on the metal surrounding the cut. Furthermore, users love the heat-resistant coating on the blades, which prevents the dado from getting extremely hot when cutting through metal.
The blades themselves are made from oversized carbide that can be resharpened to keep the blades fresh over their lifespan, and they are coated with a non-stick coating that makes cleaning sawdust from the blades much faster than with other dados when your work is done. The set includes three oval-shaped chippers, each with four teeth, that do an excellent job of producing smooth-bottomed cuts. The included spacers and shims allow this dado to make grooves ranging in width from 1/4-inches to 7/8-inches, while the eight-inch diameter ensures that wood cuts will be more than deep enough for joining any pieces of wood.
The only downside to this dado is that users note that it spits out significantly more wood dust and splinters than similar dado blades. While protective eyewear is always recommended, users caution that it is necessary when operating this dado and that a dust mask is a good idea as well.
What we liked:
Cuts both wood and metal
Heat-resistant coating prevents heat buildup when cutting metal
Carbide can be resharpened
What could be better:
Spits out a lot of wood dust and splinters
Coarser cuts than blades with more teeth
Things to Сonsider
Now that you’ve learned more about our six favorite dado blade sets on the market today, how do you choose among them to get the dado blade that is right for your saw and your style of woodworking? Our Buying Guide and Frequently Asked Questions sections will cover everything you need to know about dado blades, from why you need one, to what features you need to look for, to what you can do with it.
Advantages of having a dado blade at hand
Having a dado blade in your tool set can make a huge difference in your ability to work productively and safely with wood. Dado blades are designed to quickly and easily make joint cuts, known as grooves, rabbets, or dadoes, that are common in woodworking whenever you need to fit two pieces of wood together. While there are other ways to make these cuts, dado blades are by far the fastest and simplest options and can be used with the table saw or radial-arm saw that you already have in place of your typical circular blade. For this reason, a dado blade is an excellent investment for anyone who frequently works with wood or who is planning to embark on a complex woodworking project.
Features to consider while choosing a dado blade
While dado blades are relatively simple blades, there are several important features to consider when purchasing a new blade that will affect the precision of your woodworking and whether the blade will be compatible with your saw.
Dado blade type
Dado blades can be divided into two main types – stacked and wobble blades.
Stacked dado blades are typically the preferred type of blade among serious woodworkersб since they provide much more precise cuts and are safer to use. These dado blades have two circular blades stacked next to one another with anywhere from 18 to 40 teeth each. Between these two primary blades are “chipper” blades, which have only a few teeth and may or may not be fully circular in shape – the purpose of these blades is to hollow out the area of the groove in between the precise cuts made by the two primary blades, so they themselves do not need to be particularly precise.
All the blades we mention in this article are stacked dado blades.
Wobble dado blades, on the other hand, have only a single circular blade. This blade is mounted on its axle such that it is able to wobble back and forth between a defined set of angles, which over the course of the cut hollows out the entire horizontal width of the groove. Thus, the steeper the angle of the wobble – which is adjustable on wobble blades – the wider the cut. In general, cuts made with wobble blades are relatively inaccurate and should not be used for serious woodworking projects.
Dado blades come in sizes of either six or eight inches, with eight inches being the more common size because this allows for deeper grooves than a six-inch blade.
The number of teeth is also a consideration. Blades with more teeth – like the 42-tooth blade from Oshlun – provide smoother cuts with more precision than blades with fewer teeth. The number of teeth on the chippers also affects the coarseness of the center of the cut, although this is less important for proper joining.
The size of a blade you choose must also be based on compatibility with your saw. Typically, portable circular saws and bench saws can only use six-inch dado blades, since they do not have enough power to safely operate eight-inch dado blades.
Contractor saws are capable of operating both six- and eight-inch dado blades, although stacked eight-inch blades with “full plate” – that is, fully circular – chippers should not be used, since they are much heavier than blades with non-circular chippers. Cabinet saws are able to operate nearly any dado blade set.
You also need to consider the insert plate, which houses the slot through which the blade protrudes, on your saw.
Standard saw blade insert plates are too narrow for stacked dado blade sets, so you will need to purchase an insert plate with a groove size that matches the width of your dado blade set. This also means that you will need an additional insert plate for every width, or arbor, of dado blade and groove width that you plan to use.
The material that a dado blade is made from will affect its durability as well as its weight, which can affect its compatibility with some contractor saws. High-end dado blades, like those from Oshlun and Freud, are made of a TiCo carbide blend or C-4 carbide and have a coating on the outside to provide the most cutting efficiency and longevity. Lesser blades are made of stainless steel, which dulls much more quickly.
Safety is paramount when using a dado blade with your saw, which is why it is so important to make sure that the blade set you choose is compatible with your saw. Stacked dado blades do not differ much in the safety they provide, although stacked dado blades are significantly safer than wobble blades in nearly all scenarios.
Types of joints you can make
Dado blades are designed to cut grooves, dadoes, or rabbet joints, which allow you to fit the blunt edge of one piece of wood into the groove cut into another piece of wood. The depth and width of your joints will vary depending on the size of your dado blade set and the width of your primary blades – in a stacked dado blade set – or the angle of your wobble – in a wobble blade set.
Dado blades are designed to cut grooves, also known as dadoes or rabbet joints. These grooves allow you to fit the edge of one piece of wood into the groove for gluing or holding in place with pressure.
No – an eight-inch blade will work on a 10-inch saw. The reason to use an eight-inch blade is that grooves rarely need to be more than approximately 1.5 inches deep, which an eight-inch blade set will provide. At the same time, increasing the diameter of the blade from eight inches to 10 inches will dramatically increase the weight of the blade, which means you would need a significantly more powerful saw. Dado blades typically are made in eight-inch diameters for this reason.
Dado sets can be operated with either table saws or circular-arm saws, although the type of dado blade you can use varies depending on the saw you have. Home table or bench saws will work best with six-inch dado blades that are relatively lightweight, whereas contractor saws will work with either six- or eight-inch dado blades as long as the chippers are lightweight.
While all of the dado blade sets we reviewed will make a great addition to your woodworking tool set, we felt that the Dewalt DW7670, Oshlun SDS-0842, and Freud SD508 stood out for their combination of incredible cut and construction quality and modest prices. All three blades are eight inches in diameter, but only the Oshlun blade requires a heavy-duty belt saw to operate thanks to the winged design of the chippers on the other two blades. The Freud blade in particular stood out for its titanium cobalt carbide construction, which is one of the longest-lasting carbide types found among dado blades. However, we felt the Dewalt dado blade set was the overall best dado blade on the market today because of its incredible precision, smooth-bottomed joint cuts, and the inclusion of a protective case that will last long beyond the blade itself.