Tongue And Dado Joint

By Robert Robillard on Workshop tips

 Tongue And Dado Joint

Tongue And Dado Joint For Built-in Cabinets And Bookcases

When building built in cabinets and bookcases I was taught to use a tongue and dado joint for the frames.

A tongue and dado joint, pictured above, is a strong, sturdy  and simple joint to make on a table saw with a dado blade.

The Dado

The first step is to cut a dado in the drawer sides, as shown in detail ‘a’ below. Just be sure the inside edge of the dado matches the thickness of the drawer front and back.

The Tongue

The tongue that makes up the other half of the joint is made by cutting a rabbet at the end of the workpiece, as in detail ‘b.’ To ensure a good fit, I find it best to sneak up on the cut until the tongue slips snugly into the dado.

Fence Locations

Making this joint requires using almost the same dado thickness and height set up but with different fence locations.

  1. The first step is to cut a dado in the cabinet or bookcase side. The tongue will fit into this dado.
  2. The second step involves cutting the tongue. The tongue makes up the other half of the joint and is made by cutting a rabbet at the end of the workpiece, as in photo detail ‘b.’ I always take precautions to keep the tongue from bottoming out inside the dado.
  3. Practice on scrap material until you get a snug cut.
  4. Glue, clamp and secure with a few finish nails.

 Tongue And Dado Joint


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About the author

Robert Robillard

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor / Writer / Video Talent

Robert Robillard is a general contractor, carpenter and operates a remodeling company located in Concord, MA. He is the editor of and ToolBoxBuzz, and a has a weekly column in the Sunday Boston Globe. Rob is a recognized leader in tool and how-to information for building professionals, he hosts the Concord Carpenter Cable TV Show, offering advice on home repairs and maintenance. On his website, Rob uses his knowledge and experience to help and educate on best practices in the remodeling industry. His motto: “Well done is better than well said!”. Contact Rob at:

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