Dado blade sets are one of the best ways to cut grooves when woodworking, and you can use them with the majority of table saws. That said, they usually represent a considerable investment and you’ll want to try and get the right fit the first time.
Looking to make things groovy? Read on, and I’ll show you some of the best dado blade sets and help you determine which is right for your projects!
Contents (Jump to Topic)
- 1 Our Top Picks for Best Dado Blade Sets in 2020
- 1.1 Top Pick – Oshlun SDS-0842 8-Inch 42 Tooth Stack Dado Set
- 1.2 Top Budget Pick – Mibro Group 416381 8″ Carbide Stacking Dado Blade Set
- 1.3 Top Premium Pick – DEWALT Dado Blade Set, 8-Inch, 24-Tooth (DW7670)
- 1.4 Freud 8″ x 24T Super Dado Sets (SD508)
- 1.5 IRWIN Dado Blade Set, Stacked, 8-Inch (1811865)
- 1.6 Freud 6″ x 10T Pro Dado Set (SD206)
- 1.7 Forrest DK08244 8-Inch 24/4 Tooth Dado Blade
- 1.8 CMT 230.520.06 Precision Dado Set
- 2 What is a Dado Blade and What is it Used for?
- 3 What to Look for When Choosing the Best Dado Blade Set
- 4 Extra Safety Concerns With Dado Blades
- 5 Conclusion
Our Top Picks for Best Dado Blade Sets in 2020
With the expense of dado blades, and the likelihood they’ll see heavy use, it makes sense to check out a few before you settle. There’s something here for everyone, so let’s check out some of the best.
If you’re in a hurry, here a quick rundown of my top picks for the best dado blade set in 2021:
- Top Pick – Oshlun SDS-0842 8-Inch 42 Tooth Stack Dado Set
- Top Budget Pick – Mibro Group 416381 8″ Carbide Stacking Dado Blade Set
- Top Premium Pick – DEWALT Dado Blade Set, 8-Inch, 24-Tooth (DW7670)
- Freud 8″ x 24T Super Dado Sets (SD508)
- IRWIN Dado Blade Set, Stacked, 8-Inch (1811865)
- Freud 6″ x 10T Pro Dado Set (SD206)
- Forrest DK08244 8-Inch 24/4 Tooth Dado Blade
- CMT 230.520.06 Precision Dado Set
Top Pick – Oshlun SDS-0842 8-Inch 42 Tooth Stack Dado Set
The Oshlun SDS-0842 is a capable dado blade set with a good price and the ability to make fine adjustments. The stack itself comes with 6 chipper blades and a shim set containing 8 small shims for fine adjustment. Put together they can cut almost an inch across!
The outside blades have quite a few teeth, with professional grade C-4 carbide tips, and they’re designed to rip a clean “box” out of wood. They seem to succeed in practice, with perfectly squared corners being normal. This also keeps down the amount of tearing that can happen when you’re running grooves.
There are a couple of issues. The main one is that the shims are often too tight on the arbor, and you may need to open them up a few thousandths of an inch with sandpaper or a round file. As a whole, the blades are made with rather tight tolerances, so removing them can also be a pain.
Overall, however, Oshlun has great a stacked dado set here. It’s hard to beat anywhere, regardless of price, and it’s my first recommendation to those looking for a good dado stack.
|Size||6” or 8”|
|Dado Sizing||¼” to 29/32”|
- Precise spacing with shims
- Cuts quite wide
- Good price for the value
- Professional grade C-4 carbide tipped
- Shims can be a bit problematic
- Very tight fit can make removal hard
This is a great set for both the professional and the hobbyist, get a closer look!
Top Budget Pick – Mibro Group 416381 8″ Carbide Stacking Dado Blade Set
For those who don’t need a high-end stack, this dado set from Mibro Group is ideal. It’s much cheaper than the majority of options, while retaining enough quality to get the job done. It has a relatively smooth gradient, running from ¼” to 13/16” in 1/16” measurements.
It also has a decent case, which is something missing from many budget dado stacks. It also features good carbide teeth, which last longer than cheaper metals.
This set isn’t for everyone, unfortunately. It has a tendency to leave a “hill” in the middle of the groove it’s cutting, and they’re not as accurate as most people like. They’re usable for things like patio furniture, but professionals aren’t going to be happy with the end result. You can finish the grooves with a chisel or sandpaper if needed.
This is a decent starter dado stack for those who don’t need ultra precise grooves. If you’re a weekend warrior, however, they’re a great way to save money and end up with a serviceable stack.
|Dado Sizing||¼” to 13/16”|
- Good price for end value
- Can be sized in small increments
- Good carbide teeth
- Decent storage case
- Dados aren’t square when cut
- Less precise in width than more expensive models
If you’re a weekend warrior who just needs to cut the occasional groove, however, then you may be in good hands. Check them out and see if they’re good for your needs!
Top Premium Pick – DEWALT Dado Blade Set, 8-Inch, 24-Tooth (DW7670)
When it comes to tools, DeWalt is always a fine choice and their eight inch DW7670 is no exception. It’s a smooth cutting dado stack with extra thought put into every piece. It even comes with stainless steel shims!
The blades have high-quality micro grain carbide teeth, and the case that comes with them even lets you keep the set well-organized when not in use. They cut smooth, box-like bottoms in the groove and remain sharp for extended periods.
The only real downside is the higher price. There have been some reported minor issues with chipper sizing and burrs on the shims but neither is a common occurrence.
As a premium dado blade set, the DW7670 shines. It does the job well, it stores easily, and it leaves perfect dados in its wake.
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- Very high-quality set overall
- Stainless steel shims for micro-adjustments
- Well-organized case
- DeWalt has a good reputation for customer service
- Micro grain carbide teeth
- High priced for hobbyists
- Some minor quality control issues
As a whole, this is one of the best sets on the market. Look it over and see if the premium quality is worth it for you.
Freud 8″ x 24T Super Dado Sets (SD508)
Freud makes impressive dado blade sets, and the eight inch SD508 is no exception. It’s well-engineered and the high tooth count on the outer blades leaves an excellent finish when you’re ripping grooves. Just be aware that this one has a very high price tag, you have to pay for the good stuff.
This dado blade set has something a bit unique: a 3/32” chipper that allows you to make super fine adjustments when deciding on groove width. It also has an heat resistant coating, but unlike most it retains a metallic appearance.
Each tooth is tipped with Freuds specially formulated TiCo high density carbide crosscutting blend. Giving the blade awesome performance and impressive longevity.
You’ll have to be prepared for some sticker shock here, especially if you’re not familiar with the brand. The packaging is also… disappointing, at least at this price range. It’s still better than the cardboard box you get with some budget options, but not by much.
For those willing to pay for precision and extra durability, Freud is an excellent choice. The advantages, and their additional cost, may not be the best investment for a DIYer. These are mostly for professional usage.
|Dado Sizing||¼” to 29/32”|
- Very high-quality blades
- TiCo high density carbide tipped teeth
- Minutely adjustable
- Great, aesthetic coating
- Perfectly square dados
- Very expensive, may not be worth it for hobbyists
- Packaging could be better for the price
So, if you’re looking for something that you can trust all-day, everyday, then take a closer look online!
IRWIN Dado Blade Set, Stacked, 8-Inch (1811865)
This eight inch dado blade set from Irwin is another fine option for the professional. It features wide, chipping teeth and a high-quality blade with some lasting power to it. The blade set also cuts marginally more than most dado sets, coming out to ⅞” in width.
The specialized coating is extra nice. It helps keep heat off the blades and seems to wear well, which is a must for any coating that does more than add to the price tag. They also lower friction for a surprisingly smooth cut despite the rough outer blades.
One thing to be aware of is the fact that you may, or may not, receive a blade which was manufactured in China despite the Italian label. They’re also a bit rough on the end grain, and may be best for those primarily doing mitered joints.
As a whole, this stack is a solid and durable option meant for daily professional use. They seem to live up to that purpose.
|Dado Sizing||¼” to ⅞”|
- Very durable blades overall
- Good coating
- Slightly larger than normal width
- Meant for daily use
- May be made in China due to differing manufacturer locations
- Sometimes tear out end grain
For professional use, they’re definitely a contender. Go check them out and see why they’re worthy of your consideration!
Freud 6″ x 10T Pro Dado Set (SD206)
For those who have a smaller saw, but still need high-end precision, Freud has this 6 inch dado set available. It’s still expensive, but it’s also usable in a 10 inch saw if you’re looking to save some money but still get high-quality cuts.
Like it’s bigger brother it leaves a great box-bottom in the dado and has a superior coating and the same TiCo carbide tipped teeth. It does seem a bit rougher, with only 10 teeth on the exterior blades, but it’s still a Freud. It’s solid and you can also make very small adjustments to the stack so you get the right fit.
It’s an expensive stack, of course. You’ll also only be able to cut grooves a bit more than an inch deep, which can be a drawback for specialized work.
If you don’t need more than an inch of depth, then you’ll be well-served by this dado set. It’s professional quality and you can save a couple of bucks over the eight inch model to preserve your pocket book.
|Dado Sizing||¼” to ⅞”|
- Very high-quality blade
- TiCo carbide tipped teeth
- Excellent anti-friction coating
- Adjustable in very small increments
- Cuts smoothly, leaving a box-bottomed dado
- Expensive for a 6” stack
- Only cuts a little more than 1” deep
Whether it’s saving money, or just for a smaller saw, Freud delivers again. Get a closer look at this 6” model and see if it’s worth the investment for your shop!
Forrest DK08244 8-Inch 24/4 Tooth Dado Blade
This set from Forrest will give you sticker shock. For professionals, however, it may be worth it to make a serious investment. The choice is yours in the end, but the quality is impossible to beat.
The set comes in three different sizes. If you’re running a larger saw you may want to take a look at the larger options but be aware they have a 1” arbor. The 6” version is perfect for smaller work, providing high-quality and the ability to be used on a standard table saw.
The only real drawback is the price. This isn’t just an expensive dado set… it’s prohibitively priced for many people. Some folks have also found the included size guide is inaccurate, a normally forgivable sin but a giant pain when it comes to a blade in this price range.
If price is no obstacle, you’d do well to pick up the Forrest blade best suited for your projects. There’s a wide range, and they all have the same impeccable quality.
|Size||6”, 10”, or 12”|
|Dado Sizing||¼” to 29/32”|
|Arbor||⅝” or 1”|
- Very high-quality blade
- Comes in a few different sizes
- Minutely adjustable
- High tooth count for a smooth finish
- Exceptionally high price, not worth it for hobbyists
- Included size guide may not be accurate
In the end, these are worth a look just to see what the top-of-the-line dado sets are like. Why not take a look and see what’s possible?
CMT 230.520.06 Precision Dado Set
Another high-end set, the CMT 230.520.06 is a precision dado set made for shop work. The brand isn’t a common one, and the price is a bit staggering, but it cuts incredibly clean dados and that’s what matters for high-end users.
The blades are designed to run smooth, even in an underpowered saw. There’s been a lot of engineering in the teeth and chippers, and a quick glance will show you they’re significantly different from the majority of sets. You can expect performance comparable to any of the top brands.
The biggest issue with these is the price, which is high for a brand without a stupendous reputation. There are rumors of quality control issues as well, although few credible reports seem to be out there.
Overall, I’d rate these in the same quality as any other precision set. It may feel like a gamble, but some people swear by the brand.
|Size||6” or 8”|
|Dado Sizing||¼” to 29/32”|
- Very high quality blades
- Leave an excellent bottom
- Precision-grade dado set
- Runs well in underpowered saws
- The CMT brand is still a little bit of an unknown
There are a lot of different brands out there, and CMT seems intent on competing with the big guns. Take a look and see if you think they compare!
What is a Dado Blade and What is it Used for?
Dado blades are designed to create grooves for joinery. There are a lot of other methods used as well, but a dado set makes it convenient and easy from a standard table saw.
They’re designed to create a wide groove, much wider than the kerf of your usual saw-blade. The grooves are also meant to be flat bottomed, so there’s minimal finish work required before you can begin joining the pieces together.
Most allow you to cut grooves in a variety of sizes, which is required for a lot of joinery patterns.
Some of the places a dado blade set is essential are the following:
- Groove Joint- A standard dado joint, where the groove goes across the entire board in the width of the final piece that will be placed there.
- Tongue-and-Groove Joint- A joint where the piece to be held has a smaller edge carved in from both sides. This tongue is fed into a groove that matches its size, creating a strong hold on the piece.
- Rabbet Joint- A recess is cut along the edge of the piece of wood, which is allowed to slot over another piece and create a flush joint. Often used to hide end grain in the back of cabinets.
- Half Lap Joint- A wide groove is cut on the end of the board, across the grain. The other board has a matching groove cut and then the pieces are allowed to overlap. It allows boards to fit flush together when equal amounts of material are removed.
- Finger Joint- The ends of two boards have a series of alternating grooves cut into them, with the end result looking like a comb. These are then attached together, creating a flush edge.
Joinery is an entire art of its own, but the majority of common methods can be replicated with a dado blade. The exception is the fan-shaped portions of a dove-tail joint.
What to Look for When Choosing the Best Dado Blade Set
Of course, there’s a bit to take into account when you’re looking for the best dado blades. There are a few different types and a lot of extra things to take into account during your selection process.
If you already know a good bit about blades(ie: coatings, kerf size, material) then you’re not in entirely new territory.
The most important decision when picking a set is the first however.
Dado Blade Types
There are two types of blade out there for those who need to get groovy.
Stacked Dado Blade Set
A stacked dado blade set is easy to understand: two blades are placed outside of a “stack” of chippers. These chippers remove material from the interior of the groove, and you control how wide the dado is by adding or removing them.
They’re the preferred dado blades for most professionals and serious hobbyists. They’re versatile and the grooves they cut are perfectly flat on the bottom, so there’s no finish work required to get a hand-tight fit.
They’re also the most expensive option.
Wobble Dado Blade Set
A Wobble dado blade cuts a groove with a single blade and an adjustable hub. The blade doesn’t actually wobble, instead it goes back and forth in an S-motion.
They’re much cheaper than a stacked dado set, but they’re no one’s favorite way to cut dados. The problem is that they leave a slightly rounded bottom in the groove, rather than the perfectly square fit made with a stacked set.
We didn’t review any for this article for a reason: they’re an inferior tool all around.
You size a dado blade set differently than a normal blade. Generally, you’ll be using a smaller set than the blade on your saw, an 8” dado set for a 10” saw for instance.
The reason for this is to keep the dado blade from being used for a through cut, which isn’t ideal for the tool or the operator. Best to just take the option off the table entirely. If you don’t need extreme cut depth, you can also go smaller.
A 6” dado set on a 10” saw, for instance, won’t be able to cut as deep as the 8” model but it’ll still get the majority of joinery work done.
The overwhelming majority of dad blades are on a standard ⅝” arbor, which fit on saws that use both 8” and 10” blades.
If you’re going bigger or smaller, you’ll want to make sure that the set you’re buying has the correct arbor size.
Kerf refers to the amount of material removed by a saw blade. The exterior blades on most dado sets are ⅛” thick, so the minimum groove you can cut is ¼”.
You’ll still need to make sure that it fits your saw, but it’s a good idea to make sure that you have the width of groove you’ll need to make available. For very narrow grooves, you may need to find another tool entirely.
There’s no real guessing when it comes to how wide your dado set can go, or if your saw can use them at all.
It’s entirely dependent on your saw, so go crack the manual and see what the limitations are in your case. Most saws can support a dado stack just shy of ⅞”.
With a stacked dado set it’s often possible to remove one or more of the chippers to make them fit in a narrower arbor, but the key is to never go wider than what your saw is rated for.
Blade Material & Coating
Material and coating matter, but they’re usually the last thing on the list for those seeking a dado set. The majority of stacked sets will be made from good materials, which exact steel will depend on the manufacturer.
Wobble sets are usually made with decent steel, and if you insist on using one it’s best to go with a reputable brand.
If you’re not familiar with the exact steel, then you should see if the brand will re-sharpen blades and chippers. If so, you’re working with good materials, and the majority of high-end blade manufacturers will happily work with you on extending the life of your set.
The majority of these blades are made with some hardened edge that’s brazed onto the circular portion of the blade. This creates tough teeth, while allowing some flexibility in the central portion of the blade to keep it from being brittle.
Coatings can be useful, exceptional, or pretty much useless. As a general rule, the proprietary coatings used by companies like Freud provide a serious performance boost, while no-name companies may as well not have a coating.
Extra Safety Concerns With Dado Blades
Dado sets are excellent for cutting grooves, but they’re not considered the safest way to do it.
If you’re already safe with a table saw, you should have few issues. That said, dado blades remove a lot of material at a time and they can kick back with significant force. Actual contact with a dado stack is even worse than a normal table saw cut.
Rumor has it they’re even banned in Europe, although the situation is a little more complicated. While not explicitly illegal in most places, European saws are purposefully modified to not accept dado stacks.
When using a dado stack, you need to remove the blade guard and riving knife. Both of these are things I’d normally recommend against and do open the user to a few new hazards.
The primary problem that’s present is kickback. There’s more material to bind, creating a hazard for the user if they’re not careful and deliberate when they’re cutting. The open top of the stack is a major hazard as well, and momentary contact will cause a life-altering injury. The removal of the blade guard can also create a problem if anything falls into the stack.
While not inherently more dangerous, removing safety features to use a dado stack does make the job a little bit more hazardous. Table saws already require careful attention, and dados just increase the need for an alert operator.
The easiest way to reduce risk when using a dado stack is to gradually increase cut depth on longer cuts. Multiple passes may be tedious, but it reduces the chances of injury.
At the end of the day, founding the best blade dado set is about what you’re planning on doing. Some people may be well served with a cheap, relatively imprecise blade while others need lasting, laser-accurate precision.
I hope you finish this article feeling equipped to to choose the best dado blade set for your next project.
The choice is yours, which set looks right for your saw?