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  • How To Cut Rabbets and Dadoes with a Router


    Routing DadoesIn this episode of Getting Started in Woodworking, the forth in our series on building an oak bookcase, we demonstrate how to cut accurate dadoes and rabbets with a router and a simple jig.

    If you don't already own a router, now is the time to buy one. These versatile power tools are capable of a wide variety of tasks, and can often accomplish tasks in place of a tablesaw. They are ideal for cutting dadoes and rabbets, particularly when paired with the simple t-square jig detailed in this episode.

    To determine the locations and dimensions of each of the dadoes and rabbets on the bookcase, use the free woodworking plan available for this project.

    Dadoes and Rabbets Defined
    Dadoes are square notches cut into the surface of a piece of lumber that hold the end of a mating board. Dadoes generally run across the grain. When cut with the grain, they're referred to as grooves. Dadoes are a perfect when building shelving or cabinetry as a way to join shelves and partitions. For our bookcase project, we reinforced our dadoes with screws, although that added strength isn't essential to the joint.

    Rabbets are similar to dodoes and groves in that they can go in the direction of the grain or across it. However, Rabbets are notches cut into the edge of a board. We're using a rabbet to attach the back panel to the bookcase, but they also have a variety of joinery applications.

    A T-Square Jig and Other Accessories
    We built a simple but foolproof T-Square jig to assist in cutting the dadoes. This type of jig is designed to cut exactly 90 degrees to one edge, which is perfect for our shelf dadoes. You will also need a straight router bit. Ours is 3/4-in. diameter because our lumber measures that same thickness. If you are using plywood or thinner stock, you'll need a different bit. Most 3/4 in. thick plywood is actually thinner than that and requires a special plywood bit.

    If you have a question about this episode send us an email or post a question in our Q&A forum.

    Produced by: Matt Berger and Asa Christiana
    Video and Editing by: Michael Dobsevage

    Related links
    All About Rabbet and Dado Joints
    Router-Table Tricks For Dadoes and Rabbets
    Choosing a Straight Router Bit
    12 Tips for Router Safety