Last weekend weekend, I cut dadoes. Two, to be precise. Of the stopped variety. To install the drawer runners in the dovetailed plant stand.
There was a time when I would not have hesitated to strap a parallel guide clamp on the work and plunge-router the whole thing. A time not too long ago. A time I do not miss one bit.
The dado on the above right was cut with a 1 1/4 inch chisel. After marking and chopping to depth one side, I then scribed the other side of the dado against the mating piece. Knowing the vertical chisel chops would compress the fibers and move the knifewall, I intentionally marked the other side of the dado a bit narrow (1/64 or so). The end result was a wonderfully fitting joint.
The dado on the right, however, was cut differently. At the time of day (about 6am Eastern), I couldn’t be chopping with a chisel. I live in an apartment, after all. So instead, I scribed deeper and deeper knifewalls with the marking knife to get to depth. This meant that, without the compression from the vertical chisel chops, the narrower scribe line on the other side of the dado was never compensated for. I ended up planing the mating piece to fit the dado. It’s still a very snug joint, just with a different approach.
I have since glued in the runners into place, with a bead of hide glue along the long grain bottom of the dado. While I suspect this will be enough, I will also reinforce with some nails or buttons. The drawer is almost done too; I’m merely figuring out the best way to fit the drawer bottom (without a plow plane).
Then it’s time for assembly.