Cutting Dados With A Circular Saw

Dados in a woodshop are typically done with a router or table saw (see image below). But maybe you are new and haven’t acquired a router yet. Or it could be you just want a different method of cutting the dado out. Or possibly some other reason.

Whatever the case, it is an easy task to cut a complete dado with a circular saw. (A circular saw is actually called a skilsaw sometimes, but just in case you didn’t know, that isn’t technically the name of the tool. It’s just a brand.)

dado woodworking photo

Photo by simonov

Before getting to the video though below, let’s learn a little bit about dados.


According to Wikipedia:

“A dado (US and Canada), housing (UK) or trench (Europe) is a slot or trench cut into the surface of a piece of machinable material, usually wood. When viewed in cross-section, a dado has three sides. A dado is cut across, or perpendicular to, the grain and is thus differentiated from a groove which is cut with, or parallel to, the grain.

A through dado involves cuts which run between both edges of the surface, leaving both ends open. A stopped or blind dado ends before one or both of the cuts meets the edge of the surface

Dados are often used to affix shelves to a bookcase carcase. Combined with a rabbet (rebate) on an adjoining piece, they are used to make the rabbet and dado joint, sometimes used in case goods.”


Dados and rabbets are two different cuts. The dado cuts a groove whereas the rabbit is typically on the outside of the material/woodstock. Here is the definition of a rabbet according to Wikipedia:

“A rabbet (also known as a rebate in Britain is a recess or groove cut into the edge of a piece of machinable material, usually wood. When viewed in cross-section, a rabbet is two-sided and open to the edge or end of the surface into which it is cut.
The word rabbet is from Old French rabbat, “a recess into a wall,”[3] and rabattre “to beat down”.

An example of the use of a rabbet is in a glazing bar where it makes provision for the insertion of the pane of glass and putty. It may also accommodate the edge of the back panel of a cabinet. It is also used in door and casement window jambs, and for shiplap planking. A rabbet can be used to form a joint with another piece of wood (often containing a dado).”


The video below is going to be showing you how to cut a “through dado” – which is the most common type. You can ignore the commentary at the begging if you would like. The individual that created the video is starting a new series on his youtube channel so for the first minute or so he is discussing what is going on with the new videos.

Updated: April 10, 2017 — 11:30 pm
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