Dado Joints: Definition & Uses

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson covers a type of joint you might find or create while working with wood. Find out what it looks like, its advantages, and when it might be used.

Odd Sounding Words

Dado. If you didn't know how to pronounce this word you might mistake it for an extinct bird or something an infant would say when talking to Dad. But it's neither. Dado (pronounced: day-dough) actually has a couple of different meanings.

In this lesson's context, it refers to a specific kind of joint. Nope, not a joint of your body. Rather, a joint that's associated with carpentry. We go over what it is and when it might be used in this lesson.

What is a Dado Joint?

Before we define dado joint, let's actually understand what a joint is. A joint is a place where two or more parts are united. So, a dado joint is a joint shaped like a channel, composed of three sides, which runs perpendicular to the grain of the wood.

Let's break that down. Imagine you've got a two-by-four. This piece of wood has pretty lines in the wood running in a certain direction. This is known as wood grain or just 'grain'.

If you were to cut a groove perpendicular to the grain (at a 90 degree angle), you'd make a dado joint. Put another way, if you were to make a groove across the grain or across the width of the two by four in our case, then that would result in a dado joint.

There are two major kinds of dado joints:

  • Through dado, which as it sounds runs all the way through the entire width of the board.
  • Stopped dado, where the channel stops just short of one side of the board by an amount equal to that of the thickness of the board.


Why bother making a dado joint? Well, first of all, they're pretty easy to make. Second, they are also pretty sturdy. So, they can have a lot of different applications.

In fact, if you were a betting man or woman, you'd bet on the fact that somewhere in your home there is one thing or another that relies on dado joints.

What could that be? The best possible examples is something like a bookshelf. The bookshelf likely has horizontal grooves that support the shelves themselves. Those are dado joints!

Similarly, you might find dado joints being used in cabinets, like those in your kitchen or elsewhere. Dado joints can also be found used in or as:

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