Setting Up a Dado Blade

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A hassle-free method for setting up a dado blade with no measuring! All it takes is a flat surface and one of the most sensitive measuring devices in your shop: your fingers! Most folks don’t realize that your finger tips can detect surface irregularities down to thousandths of an inch! So why not use them to help take the guess work out of dado blade setup!

Categories: Techniques, Whisper Minis


  1. John C March 23, 2009

    Great tip Marc, gave me one those ‘why didn’t I think of that’ moments. Always enjoy the intro music too!

  2. Duh, why didn’t I think of that? Thanks for the great tip. This looks much easier than making test cut after test cut and will save me a lot of time and hassle in the future.

  3. EmtFFKev March 23, 2009

    Great Tip! Now all I need to do is get a Dado Stack to try it with :)

  4. Bruce Somers March 23, 2009

    “Thus Spake Zarathustra” is so fitting for that video clip. This isn’t Monkey Business. Nice tip too.

  5. BarryO March 24, 2009

    Another thing you can try is that, when you get close, use a feeler gauge (with your fingertip) to determine how far you’re off. Then use that to pick the correct shim thickness. ‘might be a little faster.

  6. Great tip Marc. I agree, “why didn’t any of us think of that”. This tip will save me a ton of time the next time around.

  7. Blair Glenn March 27, 2009

    Only comment I have is I try not to lay my sawblades down on a metal surface. Too easy to damage the sharp points. Other than that, good tip.


  8. Bob Shepard October 9, 2009

    Great tip Marc! Only question is where to get the shims like that? My freud 8″ set didn’t come with such precision shims. Thank for the tip.

      thewoodwhisperer October 9, 2009

      They just came with my blade. You should still be able to dial in with the Freud shims, even if they aren’t that precise. I hear some folks used playing cards as shims! lol

  9. Ray Witmer October 30, 2009

    The question I have is: The carbide teeth don’t touch each other but the bottom one in the stack sits on the table with all the teeth touching the surface. Don’t the teeth setting “proud” of the blade cause the measure to be off?

      thewoodwhisperer October 30, 2009

      The teeth sitting proud is exactly what makes the measurement accurate. We are looking for a true tooth to tooth measurement. So being able to reference the carbide teeth off the same surface as the wood works out quite nicely.

  10. Ted Miller March 5, 2010

    Mark very simple yet very effective tip.

    We all know plywood is not even close to accurate thickness anymore. So thickness can vary from 1/32 to 1/64.

    What I do since I use my dado set quite a bit, is that I try to have a cut off piece from every set up I do with the stack dado. Then I just write down on that small cut off what chippers and shims I used to make that width of cut. So the next time I need that size dado, grab that cut off that matches that thikness of wood I am using, then set the dado up accordingly.

    Then make a test cut, see if the cut off is a snug fit and away I go…

  11. Gabriel Sainz March 29, 2010

    What a time saver Marc. Thanks!

  12. Paulie B December 16, 2012

    I just bought my first dado blade yesterday and messed around for like 2 hours last night trying to get the perfect fit. I left the garage in disgust!! I hope this works, cause doing it by trial and error makes me want to never use dado’s! And we all know that’s pretty impossible. Thanks Marc!

  13. Rick M December 22, 2012

    Hi Marc, cool idea.
    I’m with you on (carefully) putting the scoring tips of an outer blade down on the table, keeping in mind that the outboard overhang of the scoring teeth will create a gap under the blade body, so keep the pressure light or the stack will cut fat.
    For fine tuning the stack, the top-most blade needs to be the other scoring blade with its scoring tips up. In use, the two scoring blades are spaced apart by the chipper bodies and shims. Stacking the blades on the table in that order will take into account the outboard overhang of the scoring tips on both outer blades. If the tips on the chippers have that same overhang then this point is moot.
    Cheers, Rick

  14. Brandon December 24, 2012

    Is there a particular spacing that should take place between the teeth of the scoring blades and the chippers? Should the teeth be close together to form a line, or offset, or does it really matter? It’s been a while since I have used a dado set, I remember the dado having very uneven cutting depths between the scoring blades and chippers.

  15. Dan Rhodes October 2, 2014

    Hi Marc,
    Thanks for the video. Is it okay to use two shims next to each other?

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