Dado Joint & Rabbet Joint: All You Need To Know

Carpenters use dado and rabbet joints for their work as they are the most commonly used joints in doing woodworking to make useful items.

People also often use them for bookshelves, cabinets and other furniture made from large wooden panels.

Therefore, learning about them is very necessary so that you can use immediately for home carpentry work.

And you know what?

When doing woodworking, you need to be skillful to measure, cut and assemble the joints correctly. These two types of joints are no exception.

In fact, they are easy to implement at home without many specialized types of equipment.

First of all, what is a dado joint?

It is a reliable and commonly used joint. Dado joint is created by cutting a groove into a piece of wood. A second wood piece is then placed in the dado groove so that it is firmly fixed and secured.

You can use it mainly in fixed shelving or furniture. Also, it brings the professionalism and refinement of wood products you make.

You can use it horizontally to support shelves on a bookcase or vertically to hold partitions.

But here’s something really interesting.

It supports the shelves without additional fasteners, glue or hardware.

Sound impressive, right?

What is the dado joint used for?

Although we mention above, let’s look at it in detail.

Dado joints are extremely powerful, and you can safely use them to make furniture or storage can withstand heavy weight. For example bookshelf, cabinets, drawers.

How many types of dado joints?

There are three types of dado joints: through, half blind and blind.

  • Through dado: It runs over the entire width of a wood panel, leaving the joint visible. It is great to hide the joints and often be turned into a piece feature.
  • Half blind dado (or stopped dado): It doesn’t extend over the entire board width and is stopped from the front edge by an amount equal to the material thickness.
  • Blind dado: It ends on both sides of the board, and you can’t see it when assembling the joint.

But remember this:

You need to cut all three types of joints in depth to 1/3 the thickness of the material and no more than half of it.

For example, you make a dado cut of 1/4” deep for the material of 3/4” thickness.

Three types of dado joints. Via

Three types of dado joints. Via

Next, what is a rabbet joint?

You can see it is an L-shaped recess cut at the end or along the edge of the board.

Because it has limited properties, so you can only use to create sides of the small boxes, wall cabinets or drawers.

What’s more?

The rabbet joint is durable and easy to make. You can increase the surface of the glue between two pieces thanks to the support and alignment of the rabbet joint.

And the ideal rate of rabbet joints with the material thickness is about 1/3.

Now can you distinguish these two types of joints?

The difference between a rabbet and a dado is the way you cut wooden panel, and you use the joints for which part of the products. There is no better one.

But wait – there’s more.

How about the combination of these two joints to increase the connection for wood products?

You can create a new joint, and it has a new name.

Check it out.

What is a dado-rabbet joint?

Let me show you how to do this type of joint.

You cut a dado in a narrower board than the board it will receive.

Then, you continue to cut a rabbet in the second board with a tenon having the same size as the dado.

What will you have now?

You have a stronger and more rigid than the basic dado because the rabbet brings the extra shoulders and patches. It can help your wooden products cleaner in appearance.

Also, you can use this kind of joint in the making cabinet and drawer, mainly when it is used for the shelves of high bookcases and cabinets.

How to make dado joints

You can make a dado joint easily, but you have to do it carefully to fit snug and excellent output.

If you want to make a through dado, you can use the table saw or with a router.

In case of the stopped dado, you do with a router or hand tools.

Want to see how it works right now?

  • When using a table saw, a set of the dado is prepared for the thickness of the shelf or partition. After that, the blade is raised and set for cutting depth. You can use the fence to locate the dado on the wood board.
  • When making all types of dado joints with a router, you can use a clamped-on fence to guide the router. The router bit projection defines the cut depth.
  • On the other hand, if you choose hand tools, you use a knife to mark the dado width, then cut the shoulders with a tenon saw.

The next step is to make it look neat, and you remove the waste with a chisel. Finally, a router plane can help you to clean the remaining trash and level the dado bottom.

Be warned:

You do not create dado too deep to make the secure connection of the joints. With hardwood, you cut about 1/8” deep, and with plywood, MDF or particle board is 1/4″ deep.

In addition to that, you need to make a snug fit for strong dado joints. To do that, you focus on the right width, smooth and flat bottom and perpendicular sides. If not, no wood glue can help you to fix the problem.

Dado joint and rabbet joint. Source:

Dado joint and rabbet joint. Source:

How to make the rabbet joints

You can cut rabbet joints on a table saw by using a dado head, setting the material thickness. Then you can raise or lower the blade height to adjust the rabbet depth.

You need to remove part of the board edge to accept the edge of another board.

Moreover, you can make the joints with complex cuts (two perpendicular cuts using a combined blade) or use a router and a rabbet plane (shoulder plane).

Is a router perfect for a dado joint making?

The advantages of a router

In fact, the router has many advantages except for its low cut speed.

It helps to accurately determine the size of the cut due to the diameter of the cutter defining the width of the dado.

You are assured of a clean and square cut, and the bottom part is not raggedy. At the same time, it can cut off the stopped dado.

Want to know the best part?

You can do all sorts of woodworking like dadoing and grooving with just this great tool. There is no need to distinguish between large or small products, and the router helps you do all.

And remember, be careful in setting up a cut to avoid problems.

How to use a router for making a dado joint. Source:

How to use a router for making a dado joint. Source:

Here is your guideline of the process
  • First, you install a bit in the router.
  • Then, you make adjustments to the cut depth on the router, secure workpiece and position a guide.
  • Check all the setup to make sure it has right size before cutting the wood.
  • Make a dado joint with the router: You set the router base with the edge against the fence and the bit, then turn it on the move along the fence. When the bit finish cutting, turn off the router and wait for the bit stop spinning before lifting it off.
Some tips for you when using a router
  • If you do a lot of dadoes, use the shortest length of straight bits.
  • For making stopped dado, you use bits with plunge-cutting ends.
  • When determining the cut depth, you should keep a small square or rule against the router base, or flush adjustment the bit top with the surface of the shim setting, or use the setup gauge.
  • To position the cut, you mark the center line of the intended cut, and then the guide fence is compensated for the distance of the radius of your router base.
  • A good guide fence should be hard enough to deflect when the router is against it and wide enough so that the clamps secure it when you locate the dado.
  • You can clamp scrap strips to the edges to avoid the blowout and use sandpaper to remove fuzzies.

How to make a dado joint by hand

Some people do not have the tools available in-house to make the dado joints.

That’s the reason why we give you the guideline of doing this by hand.

How to make a dado joint by hand. Source:

How to make a dado joint by hand. Source:

Let’s follow our steps:

  • Step 1: You mark the width of dado on your wood board.
  • Step 2: You can use any measuring devices to determine the depth like a marking gauge.
  • Step 3: Then, you use a chisel with wide benches, place the beveled edge towards the tailpiece and press lightly on a plane perpendicular to your workpiece. You will get a definitive guide for your saws and cut wood surfaces through the grain without splintering.
  • Step 4: Using the saw cut, careful cutting should not go too deep.
  • Step 5: Next, you use a chisel perpendicular to the wood surface to continue working on the rest of the dado waste.
  • Step 6: Take a stab motion with the bevel up, cut out the waste in the joint.
  • Step 7: You redo step 5 and 6 until you come close to your dado depth. You can use your bench chisel to make diagonal chops, be careful not to break the dado’s shoulder line with your chisel.
  • Step 8: To clean up and make a smooth dado joint, you use a router plane. If not, you can create a router by using your chisel.
A handmade router. Via

A handmade router. Via

Note: It’s easy to build a router with a 1/2″ chisel and a 3/8″ bit. You will drill a hole in the wood block in a 45-degree angle.

Then, you put your chisel bevel into the hole and adjust the cutting edge by lightly touching the back of the chisel or the angle of the wood near the chisel.

So simple, right?

Now you have a handmade router to use at home.

To sum up, let’s choose the right joints for your woodworking

When you use joints to make wood products, you can have a great experience. Making a good product for home use will be a happy time when you are free.

With dado and rabbet joints, it will give you a firm bond without the use of glue or other material.

Just cut them accurately, neatly and smoothly, and you’ll be able to match the wood panels together perfectly.