6″ Vs 8″ Dado Stacks

Added on January 10, 2011

This article was inspired by a question from Rick.

One thing that I find myself in need of is a stack dado set. I’m wondering which I should purchase, a 6″ or 8″? And apart from the obvious (which is 2″), what is the difference in the two when in use? Also, I noticed the price of the 6″ is lower. I know this is probably a dumb question but I need to find out and hope to hear from you on the subject. Again thanks for your help in this matter and for a great program, you have instructed me on many a problem so far.

This is a fairly common question and if you haven’t had much time with a dado stack, you might not have a clue which one to purchase for your saw. Before answering the question, lets review what a dado blade is, just in case you have no idea what I’m talking about. A dado blade is a special collection of blades designed to be stacked together for extra wide cuts. So instead of the standard 1/8″ kerf width (and slightly less for thin kerf blades), the width can be anything from 1/8″ to just over 3/4″. This allows us to make dados, grooves, and tenons of all sizes. Its a very handy accessory for your tablesaw.

Most dado stacks come in two sizes, 6″ and 8″ (while 10″ and 12″ do exist). Since most of us have 10″ saws, you might initially think an 8″ dado would be the logical choice. After all, why go smaller? Well, in all of my years of woodworking, I have never used more than the top 1″ of my dado stack. I do own an 8″ stack, but never even come close to using its full capacity. 99.9% of what I do only requires the blade to be up 1/2″ or less. So for me in my shop, a 6″ dado stack would be more than enough.

So if you’re in the market, I say save a few bucks and pick up the 6″ stack. The cut quality will be exactly the same as the 8″ version and your saw won’t have to work as hard to spin all that meat around.

I’m curious if anyone with an 8″ dado blade has ever truly used the full capacity. Any disadvantages to going with a 6″ stack? Leave a comment below!

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