Different Twist on the Old Grind

Author Dale Nish fine tunes the shape of a pepper mill. The raid is chucked on a spigot chuck.

STEP 3. Part off the top with a parting tool. Cut down the pencil line with a parting tool, stopping when about ty* in. of wood is left. Stop the lathe, and finish the cut with a hand saw, to separate the top from the body.

Mount the mil body in a chuck, drill a l'A-in. counterbore in the bottom, then dril a 1-in. hole al the way through.

STEP 4. Mount the pepper mill body in a chuck

(either a 3- or 4-jaw chuck or a multi-purpose chuck like the Raffan Chuck, or the Nova 4-Jaw Chuck). If you don't have a chuck, make a jam chuck to hold the stock. (To make a jam chuck, screw a I'/j-in. to 2-in. thick waste block to a faceplate. Turn a hole in the block to fit the end of the pepper-mill body. Jam the body cylinder in the hole and tap it with a mallet to get a very tight fit. Tap the other end of the cylinder one way or the other until it runs true. Glue if necessary.)

STEP 5. Drill the holes for the grinding mechanism.

Mount a drill chuck in the tail stock and install a l'/>-in. dia. bit (a Multispur or spade bit works fine). Drill a Va-in. deep hole in the bottom end of the pepper-mill body. This is a counterbore hole to hold the grinding-mechanism base. (Sec Fig. 1.)

Next, put a 1-in. bit in the drill chuck and drill a hole all the way through the body, centered on the counterbore hole. If your mill body is longer than 5 in. it may be necessary to drill the hole halfway, then reverse the mill body in the chuck and drill in from the other end to meet the first hole. It's OK if the holes don't match up perfectly, as this hole provides the storage space for peppercorns.

Turn a spigot chuck from scrap with a "spigot" (a short tenon) on one end that that fits the bole in the mill body.

STEP 6. Turn a spigot chuck to hold the base, as shown in the photo. (A 1-in, dia. pin chuck will also work if you have one.) The spigot chuck is just a block of wood with a short tenon (the "spigot") on the end, which fits into the 1 -in. dia. hole you drilled in the pepper-mill base. To make a spigot chuck, screw a 2-in. or 3-in. thick block of hardwood to a faceplate, and turn it to the shape shown in the photo. The spigot should be about in. to 1 in. long and fit tightly into the 1 -in. dia. hole in the bottom of the mill bodv. The shoulder above the spigot prevents the spigot from going too far into the mill, yet allows access to the bottom of the mill for sanding and finishing.

Mount the body on the spigot chuck and turn the body to the desired shape.

Mount the top in a chuck and drill a V.-in. hole halfway through. Turn a spigot on the end of the top to fit

Reverse the top and finish the hole from the opposite side. into the mill body.

STEP 7. Rough turn the mill body. Mount the body on the spigot chuck and support the other end with a cone center in the 1 -in. hole. If you don't have a large cone center, turn a wood cone to fit over your existing center. Turn the body to the shape you want, keeping in mind that some final shaping cuts can be made after the top is in place.

Mount the top in a chuck and drill a V.-in. hole halfway through. Turn a spigot on the end of the top to fit

Reverse the top and finish the hole from the opposite side. into the mill body.

STEP 8. Mount the mill top in the chuck and drill a '/a-in. hole about halfway through. Reverse the top in the chuck and drill in from the other end until the two holes meet. If vou drill onlv from one end. the bit mav

STEP 9. Turn a spigot on the end of the top that fits the mill body. This spigot fits into the mill body when the pepper mill is assembled. The mill will look best if the grain matches between the top and body. Check the top for grain pattern and mount the top in the chuck. Bring up the cone center in the Va-in. hole. This will secure the stock as well as guarantee that the hole will be in the center of the spigot. Turn a 1 -in. dia. spigot. '/> in. to Vi in. long on the end of the top. Check the fit to the hole in the body. Make the fit snug, but not tight.

FIG. 1: PEPPER MILL

Bore 1-in. hole for peppercorn storage.

Enlarge hole to "/»in. to fit shoulder of nut

STEM

Screw bar into counterbored recess.

Turn bead or groove where top and body meet

1-in. dia. spigot on top fits hole driled in body.

Screw drive plate to end of spigot

Bore 1-in. hole for peppercorn storage.

FIG. 1: PEPPER MILL

Enlarge hole to "/»in. to fit shoulder of nut

STEM

Screw bar into counterbored recess.

Turn bead or groove where top and body meet

1-in. dia. spigot on top fits hole driled in body.

Screw drive plate to end of spigot

Assemble the top to the body and mark the overall length of the mill. Shorten the length, if necessary, by removing wood from the top.

STEP 10. Assemble the top to the base and mount the base on the spigot chuck. Bring the cone center into position in the '/.«-in. hole in the mill top. Measure and mark the finished length of the mill. This finished length is the same as the length of the mechanism provided the counterbored recess in the body is 3ft in. deep. (The photo shows a mill that will measure 7 in.).

STEP 11. Turn the mill top to shape. If necessary, remove any extra length from the top to make the overall length of the mill correct. At this time, do any additional shaping to the body of the mill.

Coanterbore the top hole to accept the stem nut on the grinding mechanism.

STEP 12. Counterbore the hole In the top. Remove the mill top and fit its spigot in the chuck. With a "/«-in. drill bit, enlarge the '/-«-in. hole in the top to a depth of about Vi6 in. This allows the nut on the mechanism to fit down into the hole with the shoulder of the nut supported by the edge of the hole. (See Fig. 1.) You could also use a small skew chisel in the scraping position to enlarge the hole, but be careful not to get it too large.

STEP 13. Sand and finish the mill on the lathe. Start with 80-grit, if necessary, and finish with 220-grit paper. Next, stop the lathe and hand sand with 220-grit paper following the grain direction to remove any cross-grain scratches.

I like to seal the wood with a lacquer sealer, such as Deft. Apply a wet coat with a brush, let the scaler soak in for a few minutes, then wipe dry with a paper towel or cloth. Turn the lathe on and buff the surface dry. Apply a light coat of paste wax or wax stick and buff drv with a cloth.

Install the mechanism. A drive plate screws to the top's spigot, and the grinder fastens inside the counterbored bottom with a bar held by screws.

STEP 14. Install the mechanism. Center the driving plate on the spigot end of the top, drill two pilot holes for the screws, and attach the plate with screws. (See Fig. 1.) Insert the mill stem and grinder into the bottom of the mill body. Place the bar across the grinder in the recess, drill pilot holes and fasten with screws.

Place the mill stem into the square hole in the driving plate and slide the top down into position. If the spigot is a little tight, remove the top and sand the inside of the hole to make a looser fit. A little wax around the hole may make the assembly rotate easier.

Fill the cavity in the base with peppercorns, replace the top, and finger-tighten the nut on the top of the stem. The mechanism is spring-loaded so the more you tighten the nut, the finer the pepper grind. If you want a coarser grind, loosen the nut. A

Dale L. Nish is a professor of Industrial Education at Brigham Young University. He is author of the hooks, Creative Woodturning, Artistic Woodturning, and Master Woodturners (axwilable from Craft Supplies, 1287 E. 1120 5.. Provo. UT84601).

Turn the top of the mil to shape, and finish up any shaping of the body.

thefuri

Two Brothers Who Mac,

HENRY MATHER GREENE

The Greenes participated in all levels of design, from houses to interior furnishings, a Greene and Greene house was one uninterrupted fabric.

thefuri

HENRY MATHER GREENE

n the earlv years of this cen-

tury, when furniture design innovations tended to originate in the East and Mid-c west, two brothers were breaking new ground in the g small. Southern California town of Pasadena. Archi-jjj tects Charles S. Greene and Henry M. Greene were 5 best known for taking the humble bungalow to its ulti-* mate artistic heights; but they also designed nuts merous pieces of highly original furnishings for these % bungalows. Their careers stretched from 1894 to the | 1940s, but they made the majority of their furniture

2 between 1904 and 1913. Today, their furniture is well

3 respected as a major force in the Arts and Crafts move-? ment. The furniture from this movement, popular | from 1890 to 1920, stressed craftsmanship and the rc-| lation of form, function and materials.

As was typical of architects during the Arts and £ Crafts movement, the Greenes involved themselves in i all levels of design. As Randell Makinson—director and curator of the Gamble House in Pasadena, a living tribute to the Greenes— explains, "It was impossible for them to think of one element of the design and not all the others." That included the street-scape, landscape, building, furnishings and even decorative arts, such as carpets, lighting, hardware and so on. Early sketches of rooms included furniture design and placement. As they designed their interiors, they could not separate one part from the whole.

The early furniture of Greene and Greene is highly reminiscent of pieces designed by Gustav Stickley, an

Two Brothers Who Mac,

The Greenes participated in all levels of design, from houses to interior furnishings, a Greene and Greene house was one uninterrupted fabric.

Their Mark on the Craft

iterior of the Gamble house living room reveals how
Differnt Woods The Gamble House

CHARLES SUMNER GREENE

early leader in the Arts and Crafts movement who advocated simplicity. Later, the Greenes developed their own design vocabulary—a strong Oriental influence graced with carvings and inlay. Their inlay included semi-precious stones and mother-of-pearl, as well as wood. As their talents matured, their materials expanded to include Honduras mahogany, Burma teak, ebony, walnut, grey maple, cedar, lignum vitae and other exotic species.

The rounded treatment of the edges and corners of their furniture stands in contrast to the furniture of Sticklcy and others. The Greenes' work looks sensitive and pliable when compared to the rather spare, straight-lined work of their contemporaries.

A Oneness of Spirit

Unlike many other architects who have designed furniture, Charles and Henry Greene had a background in woodworking. As young men they attended the Manual Training High School in St. Louis, Missouri where they learned the fundamentals of the craft. Afterwards, they studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Though the Greenes designed both houses and the furnishings within them, they did little of the actual building of these homes and furnishings. Much of this was done by another set of brothers, John Hall and Peter Hall, self-taught master craftsmen from Sweden. Peter was the Greenes' general contractor, and John was a master furniture and cabinetmaker. The Greenes' collaboration with the Halls was trulv a

u fortuitous combination of skills and talents.

Charles Greene designed most of the furniture and spent a few hours every morning at the Peter Hall Manufacturing Co.. wearing his smock and moving among the craftsmen, sometimes picking up tools and adjusting a detail himself. Makinson claims that, "Charles' rampant imagination was able to blossom like a flower after connecting with John Hall. John had all the technical experience related to joinery, which allowed Charles' designs to refine at a rapid rate. There developed a great oneness of spirit between them." Henry Greene designed some furniture as time would permit, and recent research suggests that he was more involved in the furniture designs than previously believed.

Only a few sketchy furniture drawings exist today. John Hall understood the Greenes' designs so well that detailed drawings were unnecessary. Makinson points out that, "Charles could trust John to carrv out his designs with little in the way of detailed drawings. These designs were developed with a full understanding of the craftsman's task and the nature of materials."

John and Peter Hall deserve much of the credit for introducing new construction techniques and materials to the Greenes' designs. They had a large talent for turning the Greenes' designs into living pieces. This fusion of talents was a great blessing for the Greenes as designers. Such a collaboration is rare. Frank Lloyd Wright was also designing both houses and furniture at this time, and upon seeing Charles Greene's living room, asked him, "How do you do it?" As Mrs. Greene

Built in 1908, this chiffonier stands in the master bedroom of the Gamble house. Note the pegged mirror supports (top, left) and the pegged box joints of the drawers (lower, left).

4? A AMERICAN W00DW0R<ER

Built in 1908, this chiffonier stands in the master bedroom of the Gamble house. Note the pegged mirror supports (top, left) and the pegged box joints of the drawers (lower, left).

Peter Hall and John Hall built much of the furniture the Greenes designed.

PEltR HALL

4? A AMERICAN W00DW0R<ER

JOHN IIAI.L

JOHN IIAI.L

explained later to Makinson. Wright was referring to Charles Greene's ability to get craftsmen to produce work the way he wanted it. Wright apparently had never been able to achieve that type of harmonious relationship.

The Furniture of the Gamble House

The Gamble House was built in 1908 for David and Mary Gamble and later bequeathed to the City of Pasadena in a joint agreement with the University of Southern California. When looking at the furniture on display in the house, one is immediately struck by a number of remarkable features.

The entire house is a matching set, even down to the leaded glass windows, door knobs, lamps and pottery. Straight-line tables, desks, chairs and chests reveal a cornucopia of intricate detail. Tenons are exposed and pegged with square-shaped ebony pegs. Exposed ebony splines grace table and chair corners. Subtle, Oriental, floral inlay patterns highlight selected doors and sides of casework. Hand-carved drawer pulls rise up in layers. Box joints with contrasting ebony pegs defy the tradition of dovetails on drawers and chests. (See photo page 42.) Shallow sweeps on chair backs

This rocker, from the living room of the Gamble bouse, is a fine example of the Mdoud fift" motif. (See crest rail, top, left) Contrasting stays ornament the back splat of the rocker (bottom, right).

This dresser appears in the same master bedroom fet the Gamble house as the chiffonier on the opposite page. The Greenes commonly designed each room of furniture as an ensemble.

This rocker, from the living room of the Gamble bouse, is a fine example of the Mdoud fift" motif. (See crest rail, top, left) Contrasting stays ornament the back splat of the rocker (bottom, right).

Thorsen House

From the William R. Thorsen house, this sideboard shows the kind of delicate inlay that ornamented the Greenes' furniture. The inlay incorporates both mother-of-pearl and froftwoods.

FOR MORE

From the William R. Thorsen house, this sideboard shows the kind of delicate inlay that ornamented the Greenes' furniture. The inlay incorporates both mother-of-pearl and froftwoods.

FOR MORE

INFORMATION

For more information on Greene and Greene:

The Oriental influence that is obvious in much of the Greenes' furniture can be seen in the fruitwood-tree inlay in this desk from the Pratt house. The inlay (middle left) can be seen on both front and side, as the Greenes' lustration shows.

The Gamble House, 4 Westmoreland Place, Pasadena. CA 91103. built by the Greenes in 1908, is now open to the public as a tribute to the Greenes' wu. k. Fui information call (818) 793-3334.

The Henry E. Huntington Library, Art Gallery and Botanical Garden, 1151 Oxford Rd.. San Marino, CA 91108, has a permanent exhibition of Greene and Greene furniture from the Gamble House. USC Greene and Greene collection. For information call (818) 793-3334.

Greene <Sr Greene—Furniture and Related Designs, by Randell L. Makinson (1979, Peregrine Smith Books, P.O. Box 667, Lay ton. UT 84041). This book can be purchased through most bookstores and from the Gamble House bookstore. (See above address.)

Vtrutr Ciates> . rVjorri Orzxt r»M*.

Jrcn -larr

Light fixtures designed by the Greenes show a rich iridescent glass. This ceftng light is from the Eving room of the Freeman & Ford house.

Ebony pegs decorate the handle of a letter case from the Gamble house guest bedroom.

AUJW «AKH CCUmSY Cf OA«lf *CUSt -JSC M££* & MUK IUaW

Light fixtures designed by the Greenes show a rich iridescent glass. This ceftng light is from the Eving room of the Freeman & Ford house.

Ebony pegs decorate the handle of a letter case from the Gamble house guest bedroom.

AUJW «AKH CCUmSY Cf OA«lf *CUSt -JSC M££* & MUK IUaW

The twist of the armrest in this dining host chair from the Wllam R. Thorsen house was a common element in the Greenes' chair designs.

reveal the Oriental influence. Lap joints on end tables catch the eye by accenting and rounding over every component of the joint, rather than blending the pieces together as one. Double L-shaped brackets offer more than support to a chest mirror. (See photo on page 42.) And an interlocking maze of intricate detail on a stair landing reveals why Peter Hall had a reputation as the best stair builder on the West Coast.

A common thread through the furniture and architectural woodwork of the Gamble House is a design motif called the "cloud lift." It is most evident on a chair back, where the crest rail rises in a stairstep pattern toward the middle. (See photo on page 43.) Once identified, you can sec it on table corncr braces, dressing-table mirror brackets, ends of bookcases, and even modest carvings on end tables. In fact, if you look carefully, there are few pieces in the Gamble House that don't have some hint of the cloud lift.

The Greene's exposed, elaborate joinery could be criticized as pretentious, but Makinson thinks otherwise. When he sees exposed splines and pegs throughout, he interprets it as an honest expression—coping with the wry nature of pieces that tend to twist, warp, and separate. Breadboard ends on large tabletops, for example, are designed to allow expansion and contraction without letting joints open or close.

Bridging Past and Present

Along with his interest in furniture. Charles Greene had a personal fascination with carving and inlay. Landscapes and floral arrangements appear on both architectural pieces and furniture. For example, one sideboard has an inlay pattern on the end doors that is banded in ebony, giving the impression of being framed like a painting. (See photo on page 44.) Makinson reminds us that clients who could afford a house and furnishings designed by the Greenes generally were not young. Having grown up in the Victorian era, these clients had a different sense of style from the Arts and Crafts period in which the Greenes worked. So the simple decorative touches the Greenes added to their furniture were an attempt to connect the eras— to pay homage and respect to the more ornate styles of the past while keeping their pieces contemporary and progressive.

Robert Ashbee was a major figure in the Arts and Crafts movement in England, writing and commenting on the philosophy of the movement. When he visited America, he was fascinated with the variety of product styles seen in different parts of the country. He saw in the work of the Greenes a design that came from a total understanding of the medium, because they were craftsmen as well as designers.

After a visit to the Greenes, Ashbee said (as quoted in Makinson's book —see Information Box, facing page) "He [Charles Greene] took us to see his workshops where they were making, without exception, the best and most characteristic furniture I have seen in this country. There were beautiful cabinets and chairs of walnut and lignum vitae, exquisite doweling and pegging, and in all a supreme feeling for the material____Here things were really alive ..▲

David Donnelly is an amateur woodworker and a regular contributor to AMERICAN WOODWORKER.

STACK DADO

A stack dado set contains two outer blades, as many as five chippers, and may include several paper shims of varying thickness. Delta dado set shown.

The traditional dado head consists of a stack of choppers sandwiched between two saw blades. It's still a popular choice.

but no longer the only choice.

Systimatic dado set shown.

WOBBLE DADOS

GROOVERS

Lignum Vitae Dowels
Wobble dados are available in both single-blade (above) and double-blade (below) versions. Two Craftsman models are shown.
Fixed-width groovers come in diameters from 6 in. on opv in widths from 7« in. on up, with six to 24 teeth, and a choice of straight-face or alternate shear-face teeth. Freeborn groovers are shown.

We Took a Look at Some Popular Groove Cutters by bob moran and dave sellers ado heads are groove cutters that fit like a saw blade on the arbor of a tablesaw or radial arm saw. They cut grooves across the grain or with the grain, narrow or wide, near the center of a board or along the edge. Nothing beats a dado head for the combination of speed, ease, accuracy and consistency. If your woodworking includes cutting a lot of grooves, like fitting drawer bottoms to drawer sides or joining shelves to cabinet partitions, you'll save yourself a lot of time and produce better results with a dado head.

To get a real in-the-shop feel for today's dado heads we tried several different kinds on a varietv of mate-

w rials. We found some of them a lot easier to use than others; and some of them cut a lot better than others. Our report should help you decide if a dado head is for you. and which kind would suit you best.

Three Types of Dado Head

There are three basic types of dado head; the stack dado, the wobble dado and the fixed-width groover. The stack dado consists of two outer blades that re semble regular saw blades and a set of "chippers" that are sandwiched in between, as shown in the photos on the preceding page. You can change the width of the groove that it cuts by changing the number of chip-pers between the two outer blades.

The second type of dado head, the wobble dado shown in the photos above, consists of one or two blades mounted between wedge-shaped collars that make the blade wobble as the arbor turns. When spinning on the saw, the teeth trace out a wider swath than just the thickness of the blades, making a wide kerf or groove. (See photo page 48.) You can adjust the amount of wobble to change the width of the groove.

The third type, the fixed-width groover, looks like a massively wide saw blade, as shown in the photo on page 47. it's not adjustable for width. All three types of dado head can be used on either a tablesaw or a radial arm saw.

Dado heads are available in a wide range of sizes, quality, and price. Makers usually recommend a dado head 2 in. smaller in diameter than the saw's maximum-diameter saw blade. That is, a 10-in. saw should not swing a dado head larger than 8 in. Stack dados

As a wobble dado rotates, it cuts a groove as wide as the amount of wobble.

Like saw blades, the outer blades of a stack dado are avaBabie with different tooth configurations. You'I pay more for more teeth but get a smoother cut and less chipout. Systhaatk outer blades shown.

As a wobble dado rotates, it cuts a groove as wide as the amount of wobble.

f 1

n

iv

i

, 1

Shear teeth Eke this one (on an outside blade of a General stack dado set) cut deanty on the side of the groove. The dado set includes a left Made and a right blade for the left side and right side of the groove.

and fixed-width groovers come in diameters from 6 in. on up, 6-in. and 8-in. being the most common.

Stack Dados

To many old-timers, stack dados are the only "real" dado heads. Thev are sold as a set of two outer saw w blades that cut the edges of the groove (more about them in a bit) and a series of chippers to remove the material in the middle of the groove.

The chippers usually have two wings, (two teeth) but better sets sometimes have chippers with four or even six wings. Most common stack dados contain two '/¿-in. thick outer blades, four '/»-in. chippers and one '/ift-in. chipper, allowing you to cut grooves from '/4 in. wide to "/is in. wide in '/i*-in. increments. Some makers substitute a single '/-»-in. chipper for two of the '/g-in. chippers.

The outer blades of a stack dado set are like saw blades that are exactly the same diameter as the chippers. Some makers grind the teeth on these outer blades so that one blade makes the finest possible cut on one side of the groove while the other blade makes its finest cut on the other side. (See photo.) For example. we found this kind of asymmetrical "shear tooth" configuration on more expensive sets from Systima-tic, DML, Delta and others. With this kind of a dado set, you must be sure to stack the blades correctly— they're marked so you get the right sides facing out.

Other makers produce special tooth geometries for specific purposes. For example, General Saw's Scriber Tooth Dado Set has an extreme top bevel and the Forrest Dado King has a negative hook angle on the teeth, so thev work well on veneers and brittle materials like w plastic laminates.

The 8-in. carbide-tooth stack dados that we looked at ranged in price from about $200 to $365. More money buys more teeth, more sophisticated tooth grinds, and beefier chippers. The 6-in. stack dados cost less. Some sets with high-speed steel teeth, instead of carbide, cost as little as $30.

Setting up a stack dado can take time, especially if vou need a precise width. To begin with, when anv blad e is mounted on a saw arbor the flanges should be clean and free of wood chips, and the blade must be wiped clean so it doesn't wobble. When setting up a stack dado, you may have as many as five chippers and two blades to keep clean as you stack them on the arbor. You should spread the chipper teeth out evenly around the circumference of the cutting edge and make sure the teeth of the outer chippers fall in a gullet between teeth in the outside blades.

To get a precise width, you'll need to make test cuts and adjust the thickness of the stack with shims. That's what takes time; you have to take the whole stack off and reassemble it with paper or brass shims (see Sources), keeping the shims, as well as the cutters, free of sawdust. But with careful shimming you can get a delicious fit between your groove and any oddball thickness of material. To repeat a setup with a stack dado, note which shims and chippers you used.

Wobble Dados

The wobbly blade approach to cutting a groove has been around for quite a while. In addition to the single blade wobble, we looked at a variation that uses two blades instead of just one (Sears Craftsman and DML). It cut cleaner but cost more than single-blade wobble dados.

Wobble dados have two things going for them: they're quicker to adjust than stack dados, and you can wobble on a lower budget than you can stack. But they tend to chip out the edge of the groove, and they produce a rounded or irregular bottom in the groove.

You can adjust a wobble dado in your hands, but it will be easier if you put it on the saw's arbor first. Run the nut down loosely (there won't be room for the outer flange), then hold the collar so it won't turn while you rotate the cutter until the index marks on the collar line up for the width of groove you want. Lining up the marks puts you in the right ball park; it seldom gives you a groove of precisely the indicated width. Since you can't measure the amount of wobble directly on the dado head, you'll have to cut test grooves and adjust the width by trial and error.

It's fairly easy to adjust a wobble dado on a radial arm saw since the index marks are usually on the face of the collar where vou can see them and know which direction to adjust. It's more of a challenge on a table-saw where the marks are difficult to see and the collars are less accessible. That's why we appreciated the marks that the Irwin dado provides on the edge of the collar, where they can be seen from above. But even in the worst-case scenario—no visible marks, on a table-saw, in poor light, with bifocals—adjusting a wobble dado is still faster than disassembling a stack dado and reassembling with shims.

To repeat a setup, most wobble dados require that you go through the same trial-and-error routine again. We liked the Irwin wobble dado, which provides two screws that lock the collars, allowing you to remove the unit without losing the adjustment.

Getting the groove where you want it is not quite as easv with a wobble dado as it is with a stack dado or groover. Only a few of the teeth on a wobble dado actually cut the edges of the groove. You have to identify these teeth to position the stock for cutting the groove where you want it. On some wobble dados, like the twin biade Sears, these "outside" teeth are marked with a big arrow, which is a plus. With others, you have to rotate the dado head to find which teeth cut the widest part of the groove.

Groovers

Non-adjustable fixed-width groovers, seen most often in production shops, have one big advantage over the other types of dado head; of all the dado heads we tried out, the fixed-width groover was the simplest to set up and use. You just mount it on the saw like any other blade and cut grooves of exactly the same width every time. That saves a lot of horsing

*

¿? t

V

/

_p "

9BPI

Freud's Safety Dado (rear) features a high shoulder in front of each tooth to Emit its bite and prevent overfeeding and lamming on a radial arm saw. K works. A conventional dado Made (front) is better suited to atablesaw.

Freud's Safety Dado (rear) features a high shoulder in front of each tooth to Emit its bite and prevent overfeeding and lamming on a radial arm saw. K works. A conventional dado Made (front) is better suited to atablesaw.

around and lest cutting.

We tried a Freeborn '/2-in. wide, 8-in. dia., 12-tooth fixed-width groover with alternate shear faces. It's a massive brute, well balanced, that ran smoothly and quietly. It took a fraction of a second longer than lighter dado heads to reach full speed, but it cut without a hint of vibration. Freeborn makes these groovers in 6-in. to 10-in. diameters, with six to 24 teeth, with either straight-face or alternate shear-face tooth configurations. List prices range from $128 to $234.

Remember that the reasons for cutting grooves with a dado head are speed, ease, accuracy and consistency. The fixed-width groover is at the top of the heap in all these categories. If most of your groove cutting is at the same width, say, grooving for drawer bottoms, you might consider giving up adjustability in favor of the simplicity of the fixed-width groover. You can always cut the occasional groove of a different width with a router or multiple saw kerfs.

Quality of Cut

The type of saw that you use for cutting dados makes a difference. You probably know that it pays to

Crosscuts on birch ptywood show the big difference between the clean cut of a top-of-the-Hne stack dado (top), and the ragged cut of «1 Inexpensive wobble dado (bottom).

Crosscuts on birch ptywood show the big difference between the clean cut of a top-of-the-Hne stack dado (top), and the ragged cut of «1 Inexpensive wobble dado (bottom).

A wobble dado may cut an irregular or curved groove bottom (top sample). A cheap leave ridges (center sample). A good stack dado or groover cuts a square groove bottom (bottom sample).

Less expensive 6-in. ad-steel stack dados offer a choice of economy machine-set teeth (front) or Mgher-quaftty hoflow-ground blades (rear). Delta dado sets shown.

SOURCES

DELTA

INTERNATIONAL MACHINERY CORP. 246 Alpha Dr. Pittsburgh. PA 15238 (800) 438-2486 (for nearest dealer) (stack and wobble dados)

DML INC. 1350 S. 15th St. Louisville, KY 40210 (800)233-7297 (stack and double blade wobble dados)

FORREST

M AN U FACT U RING CO. 461 River Rd. Clifton. NJ 07014 (800)733-7111 (stack dados)

FREEBORN TOOL CO.. INC. E. 3355 Trent Ave. Spokane. WA 99202 (800) 523-8988 (solid groovers)

FREUD 218 Feld Ave. High Point. NC 27264 (800)334-4107 (stack dados)

GENERAL SAW CORP. 20 Wood Ave. Secaucus, NJ 07096 (201)867-5330 (stack dados)

THE IRWIN CO. 92 Grant St. Wilmington, OH 45177 (513)382-3811 (wobble dados)

SEARS ROEBUCK & CO. Sears Tower Chicago. IL 60684 Call vour nearest store (stack and wobble dados)

SYSTIMATIC 12530 135th Ave.. NE Kirkland, WA 98034 (800)426-0000 (stack dados)

WOODWORKERS SUPPLY

5604 Alameda Place. NE Albuquerque, NM 87113 (800)645-9292 (dadoshim set)

have the good side of the stock facing up when using a tablesaw, because most of the chipping occurs where the saw teeth exit the wood on the down side. But since a dado head on a tablesaw cuts a groove only on the down side, it tends to chip.

Radial arm saws have a distinct advantage when crosscutting dados; their climb-cut manner of cross-cutting produces less chipping. Every dado head we tried gave smoother results when crosscutting on the radial arm saw. Crosscutting dados on a radial arm saw can be dangerous because of the strong tendency to overfeed, so keep firm control of the saw carriage, holding it back as necessary, and take multiple shallow cuts to keep the blades from climbing up the stock and jamming. The Freud Safety Dado has a shoulder in front of each tooth that helps minimize this tendency to overfeed. When we tried taking an extra-deep cut, the Freud dado set made it through with no trouble, while other dado sets climbed and jammed.

Whatever type of dado head you choose, the goal is clean, crisp, chip-free grooves. We found a wide range in the quality of the cut from the dado heads we tried. We cut grooves both with the grain and across the grain in birch plywood, melamine-faced lauan plywood and hard maple. The most difficult material to cut cleanly turned out to be the birch plywood. The edges of the grooves tended to chip badly. Only the $365 Svstimatic Super Fine 42 carbide-tooth set with six tooth chippers gave truly excellent results cross-cutting the plywood on a tablesaw.

While crosscutting birch plywood was a difficult test, grooving with the grain in hard maple was a piece of cake. The vast majority of the dado heads, including some of the least expensive, gave clean, crisp edges on the grooves. Some of them produced a pretty irregular bottom in the groove and the wobble dados made bottoms that were out of square, but that doesn't always matter. If you're cutting grooves for drawer bottoms in solid lumber, you probably don't need to spend a lot for a dado head to get a good job.

To sum up, we found that more costly carbide-tipped stack dado sets produced the best results in the widest variety of cuts and materials. Inexpensive stack dados made cleaner cuts for us than wobble dados, and a material as common as birch plywood proved to be a real challenge for dado heads. Wobble dados took less time to adjust than stack dados, but fixed-width groovers were the quickest and cut grooves with an exceptionally smooth bottom.

Our advice? First, decide what qualities you want in the grooves you'll be cutting, whether you need adjustability, and what materials you'll be cutting. There's no need to mortgage the farm to pay for capabilities that you don't need. Ask yourself if quality of cut is more important than ease of adjustment before deciding between a stack or wobble dado. Think router for occasional cross-grain dado cutting in hardwood plywood, or use a radial arm saw. And finally, get the advice of a local dealer who specializes in blades and cutters for the woodworking industry (perhaps a professional sharpening service) if you need a dado set for difficult materials like plastic laminates or brittle veneers. A

Robert Moran and Daw Sellers are assistant editors of'AMERICAN WOODWORKER.

Wood Working 101

Wood Working 101

Have you ever wanted to begin woodworking at home? Woodworking can be a fun, yet dangerous experience if not performed properly. In The Art of Woodworking Beginners Guide, we will show you how to choose everything from saws to hand tools and how to use them properly to avoid ending up in the ER.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment