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Cheap DADO Stack That Works and Is 'realitively' Safe for a Cheap Table Saw

Picture of Cheap DADO Stack that works and is 'realitively' safe for a cheap table saw

Christmas 2016 I got a cheap 'contractor' bench saw from HF Tools.

I do very little 'wood butchering of dead tree carcase' (hesitate to call it carpentry) but I kinda enjoy playing with machinery and making 'stuff'

HF saw works more than well enough for the stuff I do but no way would I buy a Dado blade/stack costing more than the saw.

I've seen multiple posts on various sites asking or showing how to make a dado stack. There is a LOT of criticism from 'real' woodworkers (professional and hobbyist) about how unsafe a stack of carbide tipped saw blades are.

The main issues seem to be blade slippage and teeth chipping throwing carbide 'bullets' around.

There is a very simple and cheap way to help prevent this using ordinary cardboard, I used the separators from the cat-food we use but almost any relatively thin (1mm/0.040") non-glossy card can be used. Use only 'solid' card and not corrugated packaging. As always, do this at your own risk

Step 1: Choose your blades

Picture of Choose your blades

First step is to realise this could be dangerous

You will need blades about 2" smaller diameter than the rated size for saw, the torque applied to smaller diameter blade of greater 'width' than stock should balance out motor power somewhat?

I got a five 8-1/4" diameter from eBay for about $4.95 each with free shipping to replace the 10" standard blade, total cost under $25.00 so made 'experimenting' a viable option. A lower tooth count would be better but these were the absolute cheapest I could find at the time, will look into getting a few sub 30 tooth and use 40 on outside edges only

Probably should have taken some measurements of spindle length before ordering as HF saw has a 'short' spindle, looks like 5/8" will be max width with blades straight up and down using all 5 blades?

I use a similar set up almost every day, I have a woodworking shop with multiple table saws. One is dedicated to making a 3/8 wide 1/4 inch deep dado in some molds I sell online. I bought the cheapest blades Home Depot and have not bothered to put any sort of spacers between blades. This saw is powered by a 3 horse motor and makes a sanded smooth dado cut. PS I own two dado sets I keep sharpened to make raised panels but I think the homemade version does as good a job if not better. I have used these for six or seven years without go figure.
AndrewA1671 year ago
This is an interesting trick - I don't have a table saw, but I will keep it in mind for the future if I ever get one. Last time I used one was back in high school 25+ years ago (and we had a proper dado blade set, too).

You mentioned that using washers wasn't possible due to thickness. Today I was looking up "shim washers" and managed to find some from "small parts" - but they weren't very large, and probably wouldn't work for this purpose. But they were very thin (0.001" and larger). I was looking into them for bevel gear location purposes (to shim bevel gears properly for meshing).

But maybe you might be able to find larger ones? Or, maybe you could get a sheet metal shop to make some from some thin steel sheet? Though it might be cheaper at that point to buy a dado blade

Thanks for the instructable - it was fun to read and informative, too!
hazlett1 year ago
Copymutt1 year ago
This week a lot of synchrony happening. I just did this yesterday to slot 2x4s for glazing on garage OH doors passive solar panels. I did not insert card stock between the blades, only 3/8" slot needed. Instructable on the panels was posted a few days ago. The same day I started my project. Too wired.
Anyway, it worked great. Slots were dead center and done in one pass.
crazypj (author)  Copymutt1 year ago
Yep, when an idea's time has come it will happen. It's not the first time I've heard this, about 25~30 yrs ago I 'invented' a 'pulley' to reduce friction on bicycle dérailleur gear change, less than a month later a 'commercial' version was being previewed in cycling magazines. Wasn't as 'good' as mine tough as it was only available in a 90 degree 'bend'
I made various angles as POC but 90 and 120 were the only ones I used. They worked really well (and still do when cleaned and lubed) but as there was already something on the market I never went any further with idea
Cable pulley 1.JPGCable pulley 2.JPGCable pulley 3.JPG
AlfieE2 made it!1 year ago
I've done this in the past but I used CDs as spacers. Though that method does not allow for fine setting of the dado width, it turned out the perfect size for the shelf boards that I needed to cut the grooves for. The bottom of the cuts were not too smooth either, as the blade cuts don't overlap as they do in a real nested dado set, but it took only a few chisel strokes to clean them up. Considering the cost, the outcome is quite acceptable... until you can find a bargain dado set on eBay or at a garage sale, as I did. Or you could invest in a set of spacers like the Freud #SS100 for $10 or so
crazypj (author)  AlfieE21 year ago
I'll have to check out the Freud spacers. CD's are a bad idea as they are polycarbonate and will allow 'slippage' plus need to be 'crazy tight' but for relatively shallow slots can work. Using 24t blades means you could have a minimal overlap to prevent 'corrugations' at base of cut but as you found out, sharp chisel works fine.
NYT11 year ago
Have the SAME HF table saw. I will def try this!
NYT1 NYT11 year ago
...also: Nice job!
JamesJ841 year ago

Hi crazypj,,I also have a cheap ts & have been wondering about using stacked blades like you have here.You have answered all the questions that I was going to ask so thank you for this great instructable.,