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3 Plenty-strong plywood joints

Pages in this Story:
1. Full-width dado or groove
Finger on shim ring
Enlarge Image
Stack the dado set's outer blades,
chippers, and shims next to the
plywood and feel for a combination
equal in thickness.
Pushing board thru table saw
Enlarge Image
You can safely use both the rip
fence and miter gauge for making
dadoes because you're not cutting
through the board.

1. Full-width dado or groove

Strong, reliable, and easy to make, a full-width dado (across the grain) or groove (along the grain) perfectly captures the mating workpiece with glue surface all around. As a general guideline, cut a dado to a depth about half the thickness of the plywood. A cabinet, bookcase, or dresser built with snug-fitting, glued-together dado joints will last for decades.

You can cut dadoes and grooves with a tablesaw or router. We like using a stacked dado set on a tablesaw because it's quick and easily repeatable.

Stack the right combination of chippers, shims, and outer blades, shown right, to match the plywood thickness, and install that setup on your tablesaw. Make test cuts in scrap until you get the right fit -- the inserted workpiece should slide in and out of the dado with moderate hand pressure but not fall out when held upside down. Add or remove shims as needed.

Once you get your stack set up, you can cut all your dadoes for stock of that thickness. Registering against the rip fence, as shown below right, guarantees that all cuts made on matching workpieces will be perfectly aligned.

For corner joints, this channel becomes a rabbet. Because you lose one of the glue surfaces of a dado, it's best to use a rabbet in conjunction with an additional form of support, such as screws or a solid-wood face frame covering the exposed edges.

Continued on page 3:  2. Shouldered dado



Comments (1)
lyndamike1209599 wrote:

Best is if the grain of the spline is oriented across the spline so it runs across the joint. Of course this means the spline will be of limited length so a number of pieces will be required if the joint is long. I've used a 1/8" x 3/4" metal bar for the spline with epoxy glue when I was concerned about the strength.

5/9/2014 12:33:55 AM Report Abuse

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