Table Saw Joinery Without a Dado Blade (Quick Tip)

Table Saw Joinery Without a Dado Blade (Quick Tip)

Dado blades are the BEST way to cut joinery on a table saw.

But you might not own one. Or maybe you do — but sometimes get too lazy to install it (it happens to me too).

So you try cutting joinery by making multiple passes with your regular table saw blade.

It mostly works — but where you were hoping for flat cuts, you find a bunch of bumpy little ridges.

Meaning a joint with lots of gaps.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to cut flat-cheeked joinery with your combination or general purpose table saw blade.

And all it takes is one simple extra step.

But first…


WHAT CAUSES THOSE RIDGES?

ridges from atb table saw blade

Most general purpose and combination blades have Alternate Tooth Bevel (ATB) teeth.

That means there’s an angle ground onto the teeth, alternating between the left and right side of each tooth (you can read more about table saw blade design here).

This leaves a little ridge in the center of a cut.

A quick fix is to clear waste with a Flat Tooth Grind (FTG) table saw blade.

But if you don’t own one, this trick is the next best thing.

Here’s how it works.


1. LAYOUT AND MARK THE JOINT

crosscut sled with two stop blocks

First, lay out your joinery.

For the sake of this blog, let’s say you’re cutting a cross half-lap.

I recommend using a marking knife because it makes it easier to line up the cut on your table saw (like this).

You can see more measuring and marking tips in this video.


2. CUT THE SHOULDERS

outside edges of a half lap joint

Make sure your table saw blade is at the right height, then cut the outside edges of your joint.

In our cross half-lap example, that’s two cuts.

I recommend setting up two stop blocks — one on either side of your workpiece.

That way, you won’t cut past these outside edges (which becomes really important in the last step).

This is easy to do on a good crosscut sled.


3. CLEAR THE WASTE

clearing waste for a half lap

Now make multiple passes to clear the waste between the outside edges of your joint.

Slide your board slightly over from one of the outside edges, then push it through the blade.

Repeat until you’ve cleared all the waste away.

You’ll now notice the bumpy little ridges on the inside cheeks of the half-lap.

The next step is going to clear those right up.


4. SLIDE TO THE LEFT, SLIDE TO THE RIGHT

clearing waste for a half lap joint

This is where the magic happens.

It’s really important to have two stop blocks set up for cross-lap joints (one is fine if you’re cutting a tenon).

This stops you from cutting past the outside edges of the joint.

Turn on the table saw, then push the crosscut sled forward until the edge of your board is over the highest point of the blade.

While keeping it flat against the crosscut sled fence, CAREFULLY slide the workpiece from side to side over the blade.

Slide until one edge touches one stop block, then slide the other way until the other edge touches the other stop block.

Push the crosscut sled a tiny bit forward and repeat the sliding action.

Keep incrementally moving the crosscut sled forward and sliding the workpiece from side to side.

half lap cut with a regular table saw blade

By the time you reach the back edge of your workpiece, the cheek of the joint will be perfectly flat.

No dado blade required!

Just know that dado blades make cutting joinery WAY faster… and you should get one if you cut most of your joinery on the table saw.

But in a pinch (or when the laziness kicks in), this trick works wonders.


Right now during our Black Friday Sale, we have CMT Locked Dado Blade Sets available for 37% OFF.

It’s the safest and easiest-to-use dado blade out there.

And all table saw blades are discounted by as much as 53% OFF.


Want to learn all the joinery styles you can cut with a dado blade? Read this.



How do you get rid of ridges from your ATB blade? Let us know in the comments below!

Follow us on Instagram @katzmosestools, on TikTok @katzmoseswoodworking, and check out my YouTube channel for more great woodworking content...

And as always, STAY SAFE IN THE SHOP!

2 comments

Sam

Sam

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Christian Bookter

Christian Bookter

I purchased the CMT orange locked from you and I love it. Would you do a video or blog about setting this tool up and any tricks you can come up with this tool?

I purchased the CMT orange locked from you and I love it. Would you do a video or blog about setting this tool up and any tricks you can come up with this tool?

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