How to make the dado (housing) joint by hand

How to make the dado (housing) joint by hand

Dayne Dayne (56)
Total time: 15 minutes 

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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Mark the depth

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

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.

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

Work your way across the waste

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

Pare out the waste

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

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.

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.

Dayne's profile pictureDayne
Joined in 2015
Software engineer, co-founder of Howchoo, and renaissance man. Lifelong amateur woodworker, espresso mechanic, freestyle lyricist, drummer, artist, runner, coffee roaster, electrical engineer, gamer, inventor, churner, psychoanalyst, photographer, pizza chef, pit master, audiophile, guitarist, entrepreneur, dad, yogi, cyclist, and barista.
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"He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist." - Francis of Assisi
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