How To Cut A Groove In Wood With A Table Saw

A table saw can be a great addition to your workshop, allowing you to cut precise, angled grooves in wood quickly and easily. In this post, we’ll show you how to set up your saw and make a groove. We’ll also give you some tips for making sure your cuts are precise. 

Step for How to cut a groove in wood with a table saw?

1. Set up for your cut as detailed in the article linked above or as per your table saw manufacturer’s recommendations. Insert the dado blade into the table saw and tighten it down securely. Adjust dials on the saw until you have a zero-clearance throat plate installed, and check that there is no contact between a stacked dado set and a regular blade before inserting any piece of stock to be cut. Plugin the machine so you don’t forget this crucial step once you’ve got going!

2. Accurately measure for the width of groove required (the “kerf” of your blade) then adjust the fence on the table saw to that width. Ensure the blade is sharp, properly mounted, with correct height adjustment.

3. Set the stock to be cut on edge with its face tight against the fence and top of the board flat on the table or plywood surface. Make sure it’s secure by holding it still at the opposite end before actually beginning to make passes for a complete cut. Read more here How to cut circle on table saw.

4. Feed wood stock into blade slowly but surely through the entire length of the cut, gently applying pressure as you go along rather than all at once in one pass. Do not pull your hand away after moving it towards the end of the cut; let the weight of the saw move material through the cutting zone instead by tilting the tabletop down very slightly if necessary to compensate for the angle of tilt on the saw table where the dado set is installed.

5. Ensure that wood stock is being pushed through the blade in a smooth, steady fashion with no pauses or stuttering motions. If you see “snipe,” where the blade bites too deep into material, take an eighth inch off from height adjustment on the saw and reference all measurements accordingly when cutting grooves again. Continue cutting until groove reaches depth desired/required!

6. Rotate the board to its opposite end and repeat steps 2-5 for another side of the groove. Use a block of scrap underneath the material to even out any irregularities in the cut made throughout the process. For example, if one edge of rabbet was slightly deeper than the other after making this cut, use a sacrificial scrap piece or extra strip of plywood to make up the difference and even out the joint so it fits together tightly. 

7. Use chisel/mallet to remove any semi-thick ridges created by blade and clean up edges and finished product by sanding away rough spots caused by blade teeth; alternatively, leave the surface rough for use with paint or stain if desired.

How to cut a rabbet (or rebate) with a table saw?

Although rabbet cuts or grooves do not have to be straight, they can be cut as such on a table saw using a dado head. To ensure your rabbet is straight and true, clamp a scrap piece of hardwood flat against one inside edge before making the cut. The same procedure applies for cutting multiple paralleled rabbets/grooves by adjusting the fence accordingly from the first cut to subsequent parallel cuts as described above. Read more here How to cut 60 degree angle on a table saw.


1. Mark where the edge of the dado blade will meet the board being cut at the depth required for dado width plus material thickness (board “kerf”). Use square or marking tool of choice to mark this very accurately for best results!

2. Set up table saw with a zero-clearance throat plate and blade height adjustment screw to allow cutting of wood stock without any possible contact between the blade and stacked dado set.

3. Feed the end of material against the fence and over to another side so it’s tight up against another cut face down on the table or plywood surface. Ensure it’s secure before actually making any cuts!

4. Raise dado cutting head slightly above table by using height adjustment knob found on the underside of the unit for industrial machines; less expensive brands may lack this feature but can still be used in a similar fashion with reference to tabletop/plywood clamped flush to the board being cut that we mentioned previously before you begin making passes for a complete cut! Do not attempt cutting rabbet while the blade is too close to the tabletop or plywood surface being used!

5. With blade height adjustment screw still in place, adjust the fence so that it rests flush with the inside face of the dado cutting head. Make sure the wood stock is tight up against this fence before making any cuts for best results, and reference all measurements accordingly if there’s a need to raise or lower the height of the cut owing to the angle of tilt on the board being cut as described previously!

6. Once identical halves have been successfully scored/marked out by the dado set, use push stick with miter gauge attached to feed material through rotation point of table saw at the light but constant pressure; doing anything differently can result in serious injury! Do not apply too much downward force on the handle either as this can cause the blade to bind and kick back on you! Let the blade do all the work by simply feeding it through the table saw until both halves have been successfully cut out! Read more here How to cut 22.5 degree angle on table saw.

7. Use chisel/mallet to remove any semi-thick ridges created by blade and clean up edges and finished product by sanding away rough spots caused by blade teeth; alternatively, leave the surface rough for use with paint or stain if desired.

Tips for preventing tear-out and achieving a smooth finish

1. Feed the stock into the blade at a constant but gentle rate, not too fast and not too slow either!

2. If there’s a need to apply downward pressure while cutting, do so with padded push sticks or scrap boards clamped flush against the board being cut. Do not use your hands for this purpose as accidentally bumping the table saw can cost you a finger!

3. Make sure blades are very sharp at all times by changing them regularly for best results when making cross-grain cuts!

4. Feed material through in such a way that it comes straight down onto the blade (with the fence still set in place) rather than off to one side; doing otherwise can cause tear-out when the groove is almost finished be methodical!

5. Add a sacrificial board behind the one being cut to prevent the blade from going all the way through and ruining the surface of the piece, as well as preventing tear-out from occurring on the rear edge of the groove!

6. Make multiple passes instead of trying to cut a rabbet in a single pass, this will make it easier for your saw not to bind or heat up as much! You can adjust the height, if necessary, by loosening the lock nut and rotating the cutter head accordingly before tightening the lock nuts again afterward.

7. Ensure the backside is secure and flush against the fence and table/plywood surface before every cut; otherwise, you risk damaging both tool and material! Keep it tightened down securely using spanner wrench included with package!

8. Make sure the blade is balanced properly, even if it’s a cheap off-brand! Balance it by placing any number of washers on the machine-unique screw that protrudes from the underside of cutter head if after adding washer droops down, this means the blade isn’t balanced and risks vibrating itself to death at certain speeds! Adjusting screw controls gaps between blades and cutter head assembly, so it’s important to get this step right.


So, there you have it a simple guide on how to cut a groove in wood with a table saw. We hope you found this post helpful and that you are now able to make beautiful grooves in your woodworking projects!