Knowledge for the World

How to make the dado (housing) joint by hand

The dado (or housing joint as its called in the UK) is a dead simple joint used for many things. This guide will take you through making the dado joint completely by hand.

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1

Mark width using the actual piece

Mark width using the actual piece
2

Mark the depth

Use a marking gauge or very carefully using any other measuring device.

Mark the depth
3

Make a "knife wall" with a chisel

Using a wide bench chisel, place the bevel side towards the waste and hit lightly on a perpendicular plane to your workpiece. This makes a definitive guide for your saw and cuts the surface wood across the grain to avoid splintering.

Make a "knife wall" with a chisel
4

Saw down the knife wall lines

Using a cross cut saw, cut down the shoulder lines being careful not to go too deep.

5

Work your way across the waste

Using the same perpendicular strategy, work your way across the entire waste portion of the dado.

Work your way across the waste
6

Pare out the waste

Using a stabbing motion with the bevel up, pare out the waste in the joint.

Pare out the waste
7

Repeat steps 5 and 6 until you are close to your depth

Diagonal chops with your bench chisel can help to relieve some of the pressure in the waste but be careful not to fracture the shoulder lines of your dado with the shaft of your chisel.

Repeat steps 5 and 6 until you are close to your depth
8

Use a router for final cleanup

If you have a router plane, now's the time to use it. Otherwise, the poor man's router will do. If you're not familiar, check out our guide on how to create the poor man's router.

Use a router for final cleanup
9

Fit and glue

Fit and glue