Cures for Loose Dadoes
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Wood Magazine

Cures for Loose Dadoes

Sloppy slots can be a headache -- here are three ways to mend them.

Offer One Solution
Man looking at gap in joint
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End of Cabinet
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Cut or sand a shim to fit snugly; then
score it flush with a utility knife.
Remove the shim and trim it to size on
your workbench.

Offer One Solution

The quick fix: Shim it

Use veneer or rip a shim of matching stock to fill the remaining gap, sanding, if necessary, to create a tight fit. Place the shim on the side where it will least likely be seen. For example, few people will ever look under a low shelf, so put the shim below it. Install a shim on the top side of a high shelf. Glue the shim to the shelf and dado wall, trim or sand it smooth, and you'll likely be the only one to ever know it's there.


Wedges Work Too
Gap in side of board
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Ding in side of board
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Tapping the wedged spline into the
slot spreads the workpiece end to
tighten up any loose fit.

Wedges Work Too

Close a gap with a wedge

For gaps smaller than 1/16", use a wedged spline to spread the ends of the inserted workpiece, tightening the fit. Begin by routing a 1/8"-wide, 1/2"- to 3/4"-deep slot centered along the board's end using a slotting cutter. (You can also cut a 1/8" kerf using your tablesaw, but long, unwieldly workpieces will need the support of a tall auxiliary fence.)

Next, cut a wedged spline with 5° bevels along each face, with the narrow edge the same thickness as your slot. Gently tap the spline into the slot. This might require some trial-and-error trimming or sanding to achieve the perfect fit.


Time To Start Over?
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Cut a filler strip from scrap stock that
closely matches in color and grain.
Glue it in place; then plane or sand it flush.

Time To Start Over?

Fill the gap and start over

If the gap is too wide for either of the previous fixes, and you don't want to scrap the part, fill the dado with a strip of similar wood that closely matches in color and grain pattern, as shown below. Next, recut your dado to the correct width, making test cuts in scrap to confirm the fit. If possible, position the new dado so any sliver of the filler strip that will show is on the side that will be seen the least.

©Copyright Meredith Corporation 2002, 2010



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