Coming to Terms with My Dado Stack

After taking my panels out of the clamps, I noticed a few problems developing:

  1. There was a pretty significant bow in the panels
  2. Some checking had started to develop on two of the panels

I wasn’t sure if the wood wasn’t dry enough, or if I’d put to much pressure on the clamps, or what but I thought to myself, I can fix this. Then after cutting the panels down to size, I realized I’d randomly put the dominoes a little too close to the end of the boards. I thought to myself, maybe I should take up knitting. Fortunately, the exposed end would be buried but it’s a lesson to make sure you know where you’re putting these things when you install them.



I pressed on and started to figure out how to cut the rabbets. I’d used cut nails in the previous toy chest build but I wanted something more sophisticated on this design. I really liked the look of the Strong Trunk Chris Schwarz did in an issue of PopWood. I wasn’t interested in having the exposed brass, and thought screws with plugged holes would look fine; especially with a few coats of paint.

So, onto the rabbets.

I hadn’t installed my dado stack since moving from Cincinnati in 2011. I’ve never liked the shimming, reconfiguring, and test cuts associated with the dado stack. Unfortunately, I’ve had varying degrees of luck with the two rabbet planes I own and similar results with router/edge guide setups. Knowing my timeline was short, I decided to go ahead with table saw. I refreshed my memory on how to do this operation and had at it.

I thought I was pretty smug by using the method from the pictures above, but my first test cut showed I was still too tight. Enter the the shimming, reconfiguring, and test cuts associated with the dado stack. After a few attempts it was nice and snug. They when I went to hog out the material for the rabbets the real heartache settled in. I’d used the middle of the board to determine the height of the dado stack (not taking into account the bow mentioned a little earlier). My first cut was too deep on the ends and resulted in a fairly elaborate repair job.

While the glue dried on this fix, I decided to address the checking, which started occurring on other panel. My scraper came in handy.

Even those this ordeal confirmed my annoyance of using the dado stack, it reminded me of how quick it can be when things are setup correctly. I’ll definitely use my dado stack more but I’ll also be working on getting those rabbet plans up and running.


About Shawn Nichols

Heady. Phishy. Woodworker
This entry was posted in Kids Furniture, Toy Chest and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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