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How to Make a Rabbet and Dado Joint

How to Make a Rabbet and Dado Joint

Rabbet and dado joints are very popular. They allow you to firmly connect two pieces of wood. Whether it’s for a cabinet, table, or any other structure, the rabbet and dado joint is a great carpentry technique that is worth learning.

Rabbet cut vs Dado cut

The difference between a rabbet cut and dado cut is quite simple. A dado cut is made within the board, while a rabbet cut is made at the edge of the board.

Below is a picture that easily illustrates the difference between rabbet and dado cuts.

rabbet cut vs dado cut

How to make a Rabbet and Dado joint

The best way to make a rabbet and dado joint is with a sliding compound miter saw. This is because miter saws have a depth stop which prevents the saw from cutting through the board.

You can also make a rabbet and dado joint with a hybrid table saw.

Step 1: Measure and mark the cuts

how to measure rabbet and dado joint cut

The first thing you need to do when making a rabbet and dado joint is to measure and mark the cuts. As a reminder, you should be taking out the same volume of wood from each piece.

This means that the dimensions of the cuts should be the same.

Step 2: Set the depth

Next, you must set the depth of the depth stop. The depth should be how deep you want the cut in the board. You can adjust the depth spot by screwing it in to make it longer, and screwing it out to make it shorter.

The depth stop will prevent the blade of the saw from penetrating deeper into the wood. This allows you to get the perfect cut for both joints.

Step 3: Put a board parallel to the board you want to cut

how to make a dado and rabbet joint

If you are using a circular blade, you will need to put a sacrificial board behind the board you intend on cutting. This will allow the blade to go completely back and forth so that you can get the rectangular cut.

Step 4: Make the cuts

making a rabbet cut

Now you can start the cut. As you make the cuts, slowly slide the board away from the saw. It doesn’t matter if you start with the rabbet or dado cut.

Step 5: Sand

Next, you should use a file to sand and smooth out the edges of the cut. You might need to thoroughly sand the cuts in order to make sure they securely fit into a joint.


I hope this guide helped show you how to make a rabbet and dado joint. If you follow the instructions step by step, it shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes to get the job done.

While there are multiple tools and saws you can use, I highly suggest that you use a miter saw for the rabbet and dado joint. The depth stop makes the cut very easy, and if used correctly it is very hard to mess up the cuts. Most miter saws also come with a cool red laser that helps you line up your cuts.

To be safe, I suggest you wear a face shield to avoid any wood chips from flying into your eye. If you don’t have one yet, you should check out the best face shield for woodworking.