6″ Vs 8″ Dado Stacks

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!

Category: Tools

Comments

  1. Dan Drabek January 10, 2011

    The smaller diameter blade might get you closer to the mark when cutting stopped dados. And squaring the end of a stopped dado would be a little easier.
    The bigger blade would probably cut faster. (faster speed at the edge).
    The smaller blade might be cheaper to re-sharpen. (fewer teeth)
    The smaller blade would hurt less if dropped on your foot.

    DD

  2. Bryan January 10, 2011

    Wouldn’t the speed off the teeth on an 8″ blade be faster. I use a 6″ dado set and have been happy with it, but in theory you might get better cuts out of a larger blad.

    • TimV January 11, 2011

      I agree with Bryan, the tooth speed is faster with an 8″ blade versus a 6″. Theoretically, a faster tooth means more cuts per inch of board. More cuts typically means a more clean cut.

      I’ve used an 8″ set in a direct drive saw prior to my cabinet saw and I got the same performance out of both. I could hear the cut and adjust the feed rate accordingly. For us non-production users, feed rate isn’t an issue.

      I choose 8″.

      Tim V

      • Ryan October 11, 2012

        The tooth speed is faster on a smaller diameter blade.

        • jim j November 8, 2013

          Ryan said “The tooth speed is faster on a smaller diameter blade.”

          Don’t want to offend but that statement is exactly backward.

          The rotational speed for both 6″ and 8″ blades is the same (around 3500 RPM).

          The linear speed is FASTER for the 8″ blade.

  3. The only time I need the extra capacity of an 8″ was when I needed to precisely mill a lot of deep dados for half lap joints. I made a miter sled from 3/4″ MDF, so I cold screw down stop blocks. If memory serves a 6″ stack would have left me an 1/8″ shallow.

  4. Xett January 11, 2011

    You touched on it, but an important point is saw power. Myself, and I know many others, have smaller ‘contractor’ grade saws. Spinning a 3/4″ wide, 8″ stack works the saw extremely hard — particularly if you’re going through a hardwood. You must either feed extremely slowly, take multiple shallow passes or you will slow down your blade speed, leaving a less than ideal cut.

    • strolgen January 11, 2011

      Bull eye.
      The reason why I choosed a 6″ dado set instead of the 8″ was because of the limited 1 1/2hp of my saw. Below 2hp, I think 6″ is good enough.

  5. Chad E January 11, 2011

    Perfect article timing, I was just thinking about this the other day. Besides a DC, a dado stack would be the next item on my wish list. I’ve decided on the 6″ but curious what brands others out there are completely satisfied with. I find a $100+ difference between a bunch of them out there. Oshlun vs. Freud Super, vs Infinity Dadonator vs Forrest, etc.

  6. Joey G January 11, 2011

    My concern with a 6″ would be the height adjustment of the saw. I could see a scenario where you might not get full height needed especially if used in combination with a jig and plywood base, such as making finger joints, etc.

  7. Beej January 11, 2011

    I have had the 8″ Freud set pictured in the article for 4 years. It’s a great stack and I’ve been enormously pleased with the results. Take the time to make a zero clearance throat plate. My saw came with a dado throat but it is so wide I’ve never dared use it. Also, for those w/ “contractor” saws, watch out! Often the arbor is shorter and can’t handle a full stack. I usually have to just plan multiple passes with a thinner stack to make it work right.

  8. Bob January 11, 2011

    I ve raised the stack 1.25 to notch 4×4 s for out door stuff.
    I never tried raising the stack all the was so I don’t even
    know how high it will go. Have had the freud 8 dado for
    3 sharpenings….Use it a lot.

  9. TomB January 11, 2011

    I’m not a SS owner (yet) but from my research, the Dado brake will only work with the 8″ stack and up to 13/16 width.

  10. Jason Pell January 11, 2011

    I use a sled which has a 18mm base and I have on occasion had to so deep dados of 22.5mm and 45mm – not sure what the depth of cut of a 6″ dado would be but I am glad I have an 8″ set.

  11. AZSteve January 11, 2011

    I have the Freud 8″ SuperDado set and use it with a 10″ Jet contractor saw. Both have performed well for many years and I have set it up with a 3/4″ stack many times w/o any problems. Only time I ever used the full capacity though was when I made that finger jointed jewelry box out of 12/4 hard maple ;)

    • Dan Drabek January 12, 2011

      That must have been a big jewelry box. ?

      DD

  12. Ron Rivas January 11, 2011

    I have both Freud 8″ and 6″ dado blades sets and use both of them although not at the same time LOL. I have found that the 8″ works better on my Radial Arm saw just due to the fact that with a 6″ blade I have to lower the motor to close to the table. I do have to agree with the other comments that if you want to save a few bucks buy the 6″ it will serve you well.

  13. Medfloat January 12, 2011

    I have the CMT 6″ set (shims included) and have used it in my Jet JWTS-10 for two years now. The widest I have used was 3/4″ and the deepest cut was 3/4″. The set has done everything I asked it to without fail. As with any cut on a table saw one must pay attention to the feed rate and the listen to the saw for slowing. If the set is for the hobbiest then get the 6″ set and save money.

    Dan

  14. Alex Kara January 12, 2011

    I do a lot of lap joints using structural timber. I’ve found you can set an 8″ blade set to cut a 1/2″ dado but never a 6″ to cut a 2″ dado. Whie one can fall back on the trusty chisel, lets be honest, we buy dado blades for convenience, accuracy and neatness. If the piggy bank (and/or wife) allows it spend those few shekels on the versatility of the 8″, allbeit seldom exploited.

  15. Tim Caveny January 12, 2011

    I use a 6″ set that belonged to my great uncle, who taught me the trade. He bought it just after WW II. Over the years, I’ve used it for everything including a run of collapsible modular chairs back in the late sixties.

    I also have an 8″ set that I never use.

    The point about getting closer to the end of your stopped dados is one of the best arguments for the smaller set.

  16. Tom Applegate January 12, 2011

    I have an 8″ set. The one use I have had that a 6″ would not work for was cutting 3/8″ wide slots, 2″ deep for splines in some cutting boards I recently made.

  17. Will January 12, 2011

    Just looked up the info for SS myself. I have a SS but not a dado set, but it looks like for the contractor so you have to use a 8″ dado set.

    http://www.sawstop.com/contrac.....brakes.php

    I tried looking up what the industrial and professional SS cabinet saws support but their web site suddenly slowed down massively. Oh well.

    -Will

  18. Pat January 12, 2011

    I have been told by tool table saw manufacturing reps that 8″ dado sets exceed the design capabilities of most saws. Specifically, the 8″ set is too heavy for the arbor. Therefore, I have been advised to only use a 6″ dado. I have not addressed this question with a sawstop rep.

  19. seems it wasn’t directly asked, but not all dado stacks cut as “flat of a bottom.” My first set, which cost in range of the high quality sets, did not leave a very satisfactory bottom. Quality blades and such, but weak design. More recently bought Infinity Dadonator. Much better. Any other experiences out there?

    •  

      I have use three dado sets over the years. The Freud version, pictured in the article, gave surprisingly flat bottomed cuts. I was always pleasantly surprised by it. The Forrest Dado King gives nearly perfect flat bottoms, and the price reflect it. And a the Tenryu dado set, which cuts like a hot knife through butter, but leaves terrible grooves in the surface.

    • Deb Malloy January 14, 2011

      Tom, I’m in the market for a dado blade, and was considering the 6″ Infinity Dadonator. My main concern is with the flatness of the bottom cut.
      Are you happy with the Infinity ?

      Thanks

    • I’ve used 3 dado blades – two wobbles and a stacked set.

      The first dado blade I used was a cheap Oldham brand. The thing is horrible. Leaves a curved and grooved bottom and lots of tear out. I’ll only use it now on treated lumber to cut half lap joints for fence gates and such.

      I was later given an older Craftsman wobble blade and was quite surprised by it. It’s really hard to adjust, but leaves a surprisingly flat and smooth bottom. Since it is so hard to adjust, I don’t use it much.

      And I have a 6″ stacked dado set. I forget the brand. It wasn’t expensive, but it cuts very nicely. Square corners, flat bottom, no grooves, etc.

    • Ben January 23, 2011

      I bought a Freud 8″ dado (or possibly Avanti–don’t remember but I’ve heard Freud makes Avanti anyway…) from Home Depot and it left me such a horrible bottom to the cut that it was totally useless. I took it back for a refund and decided to either nibble with a standard kerf table saw blade or use a router. My problem dado was not the Freud pictured, but the cut’s bottom was actually rounded–yeck!

  20. Steven Tindell January 13, 2011

    I am a saw stop owner and the saw stop brake for the dado set only works with an 8″ dado set. With the my older delta saw I used a 6″ dado set for years and never went higher than 1″. I have had my SS for about six months and my last project required 1.25″ deep dado and that seemed very high to me. My old 6″ would have also handled that. I use the Frued 8″ and it make nice cuts. Good luck and make lots of saw dust safely.

  21. TheOneHandedHandyMan January 13, 2011

    As a relative newbie to the hobby it is my opinion that since dados are normally hidden, the quality of the bottom cut is not as important as it is made out to be. I mean, sure a perfectly flat bottom is desired but how much of a difference can it make if the bottom cut is not perfectly smooth? Are we talking structural weakness? I use a cheaper mibro set and have never had a joint fail because I didn’t anti up and purchase a several hundred dollar dado set.

    • Jim_WoodWarden January 14, 2011

      The problemn with the rough cut bottoms is mostly how good of a glue line do you get if its a though dado and the part that sits in the dado can be seen. For example hardwood shelving where the edge of the shelf and the edge of the outer case of shelf maybe seen if the bottom of cut is rough then there is gaping in the joint that is visible (for those of us who like to avoid use of wood filler and get good snug joints). The other problem I had with my big box hardware store cheapy $50 set (and some here in the comments are reporting rough cuts with more expensive sets) was that the cut was rough enough and not always clean at the edges that whatever I was joining cause things to push apart just enough to give assembly issue problems on the project and required a paring chisel to clean it up. I’ll repeat my earlier posting that if money is a concern the Oshlun 8″ stack at $80 from Amazon makes great cuts, stays sharp and you can’t beat the price.

  22. Matthew Hills January 13, 2011

    Sawstop reportedly requires an 8″ dado set to work with their dado safety cartridge.

    I’ve was really happy with the Delta/DeWalt 8″ set I had. I gave it to my dad to use with his RAS.

    I’m now using a Freud 6″ set that I got free from a sawstop convert who needed to upsize. Seems okay. But if I was buying new, I’d probably buy the 8″ Delta/DeWalt over again.

    Matt

  23. jHop January 13, 2011

    I wish I could remember exactly what the rep from Forrest said when I asked about dado sets. From what I remember, one of the types of table saws have a clearance issue. I don’t remember the exact clearance figures, but the Forrest rep recommended the 8 inch. I think the direct drive does not allow for clearances with the 6 inch stack.

    I want to emphasize I don’t remember the exact figures or conversation. I’ve been considering the 8 inch more for the clearance issue. I’ve also been considering using the router to run dados, and avoid the whole stack issue altogether.

  24. Jim_WoodWarden January 14, 2011

    @ChadE and others -
    I bought the Oshlun set from Amazon:
    http://www.amazon.com/Oshlun-S.....038;sr=8-1

    I am hugely impressed with it and its price (currently right near $80). It makes flat bottom cuts with only a barely visible score cut near edges of dado. It’s gotten great reviews in both magazines and online with the only real negative comments about it not coming in a nice wood case or other storage case. It does come in a very heavy duty cardboard box with pretty decent foam separators to protect the teeth. My answer to the storage box issue, if you’re really put off by the cardboard box your a woodworker make a damn storage box – LOL (there are certainly plenty of plans for ones floating around on the internet and in magazines)

    The chipper blades are full diameter blades and not just what essentially amounts to a bar with a hole in the middle and a tooth or two at each end (or I have seen what I call the x-bar style chippers where each chipper has four arms instead of two – I don’t have experience or ever heard of it but my thinking is the 2 arm or 4 arm style chippers I wonder if they every get bent enough woudl it throw your stack off any – I have always tried to treat my dado stacks as gently as possible).

    Plenty of shims are provided for fine tuning the stack; though personally I find it easier to not mess with the shims and make the stack one chipper thinner then I need for the dado. Then I make all the first pass cuts in any material needing dados at a particular fence setting (along with maybe a scrap piece to help adjust the final pass). After the first pass cuts are made I then move the fence to make the final pass. This method works well for me and I get very accurate width cuts this way every time. Personally I find the thin shims get caught up in the square threads of the arbor and mangled around the center hole somewhat. They are also just a pain to get in and re-stack the blades and take another test cut and such (which you may have to repeat a couple of times until the dado fits snugly).

    I have been using this stack for almost 18 months now – the use has been of a serious hobbyist use and I have not sharpened it yet. Next time I take blades in for sharpening I may throw the outer blades in for sharpening since they are always used. It just works so well and the price is affordable I haven’t seen a reason to pay for a higher priced stack (and I did have a big box store what I call a cheapy stack I think I paid about $50 for previous to this one that truly sucked that had tear out problems and rough bottoms to the dado).

    So that’s my two cents. There maybe higher priced stacks available, and maybe the cut quality is marginally better but I am just not sure a $200 to $300 stack provides so much better quality to justify the price increase relative to the quality/price of the Oshlun stack. The only exception in my thinking is maybe the Freud dial a width is worth the price since it removes the pain in the ass shim issue, but I have no experience with that one.

  25. I have a Forrest 8″ Dado King. I’m not sure what the capacity is on it but I’ve only needed more than 1″ or so when I needed a half lap in a 4 X 4 on a mail box post. I suppose if I was buying again, it would be a 6″. BTW, most of my dados are cut now on a table top Bosch TS with the Forrest. Saves me a bunch of blade changing annoyance because it’s pretty much guaranteed that as soon as I put the dado set on the PM66, I’ll need to rip something.

  26. Joe January 14, 2011

    Most of this has been well covered. The one difference that i haven’t seen mentioned is that the 6″ blade has more wear per tooth since it has fewer teeth – so will dull a bit more quickly for the outside blades. I have a 6″ & 8″ freud set and they have both performed well on both a RAS & my delta contractor saw, though i am careful to adjust my feed rate for the smaller blade.

    As far as flat bottoms go, the knicker teeth on the outer edge which leave the “bat ears” is there to reduce tearout, especially on the less expensive blades. my dad’s delta set leaves huge ears & cuts rough with all but the slowest feed rate. My 2 freuds have cleaner cuts with smaller ears.

  27. Bruce January 14, 2011

    One thing I think should be mentioned…. I fell into this one early on. do not get one of those wobble dado cutters… yes they are east to setup, but do not cut a flat bottom but something that looks like a large ATB tooth saw cut it so you wind up with a tapering gap when you insert the piece tht fit into the dado.
    Thanks, bc

  28. I’ve used an 8″ set doing half lap joints on 4×4′s for some really stout outdoor furniture. I already had a nice Freud 6″ set so I tried nibbling away 3 1/2 inches with my 10″ blade but it was taking an eternity and looked horrible. So I went down the street and bought a cheapo 8″ from harbor freight for something like $25. Perfect dadoes weren’t crucial so it was more than adequate. It actually surprised me how well it did. I always wanted to test it on a hardwood scrap but have never gotten around to it.

  29. wes January 15, 2011

    I currently own the frued 8″ and sever others. I would think that one difference between the two sizes would be blade life. It would seem to me that you would have to sharpen a 6″ more often.

  30. Stew Chubbuck January 20, 2011

    Not knowing the math off the top of my head I don’t have numbers to share but there is a considerable speed difference between the 6&8 inch enough to make a difference on the quality of the finish cut. The 10 inch would be better yet. But for the average wooworker they wouldn’t really benifit from having a 10 inch. One other thing to consider is the life span. A bigger blade the wear is spread out over more teeth so the life is going to be longer. And the bigger the blade more speed less effort to get the chips out less stres on the saw.

  31. Chris Crockett January 29, 2011

    How about if you use the stack in a different tool say like a radial arm. You wouldnt have to lower the arm so low and you could see your work better if you use the 8″.. C.C.

  32. Jim February 1, 2011

    I use a 7″ Craftsman (old) dado set. All steel alloy. I have one of my experienced woodworking mentors who has owned a cabinet shop for many years. He uses wobble dado sets due to a stacked set close call (read above about the short arbor issue) that spooked him away from them forever. In order to get the truly flat bottom he desires, he bought several of them. Set them to the desired widths and had them professionally ground to remove the crown/high points. He gets perfectly flat cuts (and can fine tune the cuts to maintain that) every time. But definitely at a price.

  33. Brian December 30, 2011

    This discussion is a little old now but I came across it while searching for info on stacked dado sets. I noticed some errors in people’s understanding of saws and blades and wanted to contribute to clarify. First, a saw’s rotational speed (rpm) is fixed (assuming it is not bogged down) so a larger diameter blade will have a greater blade speed than a smaller blade but both will turn a full revolution in the same amount of time. Some of the comments on wear may not be right. On the Infinity model I noticed that both the 6 and 8 inch sets have the same number of teeth so a smaller set doesn’t necessarily mean fewer teeth. Lastly, a larger saw puts more stress on a saw. It weighs more so requires more force to get it up to speed. While it has more inertia due to its greater weight, the larger blade diameter means it is easier to stop than a smaller blade. Basically, it would be easier to stop a saw by overfeeding with a large blade than a smaller one. This is the same reason why guys that upsize their tires on their trucks also often choose to go with taller gears (gives more torque at the ground to compensate for the larger tires). In the end, I think the only reason to go with a larger diameter set is depth of cut.

  34. Randy Rosenberger October 25, 2012

    My wife bought me a 10″ Forrest dado set for my birthday. It looks great and I’m sure is a good quality blade. I have a Sears 3 hp portable table saw which I would like to replace some day as I am an amateur woodworker just getting started. All the talk seems to be about 6″ or 8″ dado sets. Is the 10″ way too big for the saw I have or should I return the 10″ Forrest dado set for a smaller size? I haven’t used the blades yet so I could return them. Also, I would someday soon like to upgrade my table saw to a Ridgid R4512 or Grizzley GO715P Hybrid table saw. Would the 10″ Forrest set work with either of those as well?
    Thanks!

  35. Shawn February 26, 2013

    I just read the owners manual for my saw and it said it was designed for use with a 6″ stacked dado. I looked at the owners manual for my dad’s saw and it said it was designed for an 8″ dado. Both were rigid saws from home depot. One was the mobile version and one was the non-mobile.

  36. John Tomczyk July 3, 2013

    I’ve bought 2 Freud tools over the years, including a dado set. Both were crap. I bought a 6″ set made by who knows at Rockler on sale and it worked fine on my PM 66 10″ tablesaw. Now, I have a Sawstop and can’t use the 6″ set. It requires a 10″ set or the saw won’t run. Also needs a dado brake and a Sawstop insert. Brake and insert run about $130.00 total. If I buy a Forrest dado set I’ll be in for $400.00+. Ouch!

  37. David Pettinger January 9, 2014

    I have both 6″ and 8″ dado sets. I personally have only used my 8″ set maybe 3 times since I’ve owned it. The 8″ was a gift from my kids, otherwise I would have sold it.

    I rely mainly on my 6″ dado set. I really don’t see a need to ever buy a 8″ set. If I need to go that deep, I will use a mallet, chisel. and a hand saw. Probably will be faster any way.
    I have built big timber tables and pergolas and was never tempted to use my 8″ dado to try and nibble out a wide deep dado. Good sharp hand tools always work the best.

    I have never looked for a perfect flat bottom from my dado sets. That is what I have shoulder planes, router planes and chisels for. But then again, I love hand tools.
    Just my 2 cents.
    Dave
    The woodworker with the most hand tools wins, problem is you can never have enough hand tools, so when do you have the most???????

  38. Scott Spencer February 15, 2014

    A 6″ set isn’t always cheaper, and not all manufactures offer a 6″ set. The 6″ won’t necessarily cut exactly the same as an 8″ either, though it should do a sufficient job. Excluding the 8″ sets really narrows your choices. By including the 8″ sets in your search, you’ll increase the chances of finding the best sale price on the best set available at any given time. Even when I had a modest Delta 36-600 saw I’ve spun an 8″ set, so all but the most modest saws should be able to handle them, within reason.

    My experience has been that the Infinity Dadonator is the best performer of the sets I’ve tried, and the Delta/DeWalt 7670 has historically offered the best bang for the buck near the $100 mark, but recent price increases on that set may negate some of the value. The basic Freud set will do a good job, as will the better Oshlun and Avenger sets…..it’s worth noting that Oshlun and Avenger offer some cheaper sets that have C2 carbide vs C4….I’d stick with C4 if possible. The Irwin Marples and basic CMT sets are similar designs as the basic Freud set, and should perform similarly.

  39. Robert From Marietta,OH February 18, 2014

    Mark,
    With regards to saw blades, is it worth spending more for a name brand blade versus a generic manufacture? Does it matter? Have you ever done a comparison? Blades I am referring to would be for miter saws as well as table saw. An would be a regular blade to a finish blade.

  40. Vincent Penrose March 27, 2014

    I have a craftsman 10″ contractor table saw and need a dado set for making Bee supers. Although the guy at Woodcraft said all the same as above about cleaner cuts and faster blade speed with the 8″, I think a 6″ will suit me. Amazo has great prices but I can drive over there today and have it in my paws in 20 mins..

  41. Mark Levine May 2, 2014

    Saw: Grizzly 0444Z
    Fence: Shopfox Aluma-Classic
    Miter: T-Slot
    Blade: Oldham 8″ Stacked Dado Set $59.00 – Grizzly Industrial

    The decision between the 8″ and the 6″ really came down to how high I wanted to adjust the arbor every time I ran a dado process. The particular brand came down to the general performance reviews and overall price, but since the Oldham set did not have any reviews, it was purely on price, and Grizzly has been great with returns.

    I tested the blade on a sorting shelf attached to my shaper with 3/4″ frame and 1/2″ shelves. There is less than 1/64″ of play with an appropriate stack, which is perfectly fine, and nearly a press fit in some areas. Clean flat bottom dado if you don’t rush the cut. Totally worth it!

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