Stacked dado head cutters for table saws

I see a lot of US videos on YouTube where they extensively use ‘stacked dado head cutters’ on table saws for cutting rebates in sheet and board materials. Are such ‘stacked dado head cutters available for use on table saws in the UK, and are out table saw designed to accommodate them?

As far as I’m aware, if you can get hold of them and a suitable table saw, stacked dado cutters are available in the UK and can be used in amateur workshops…at your peril! However, as the cutters have to be used unguarded, current regulations strictly prohibit their use in any professional 'shop. To the best of my knowledge, only American style tablesaws will accommodate these cutters.

Hhhhmmmm…that’s interesting, the safety aspect of running ‘stacked dado head cutters’ on a table saw never really entered my mind, as I am sure many, like myself, often run our table saws with Riving knife and guard removed in order to accommodate a specific piece of work… About the only time I actually have the riving knife and guard fitted are when I’m sawing longer lengths of timber, and need to use them… from this I gather that you would have to investigate with the manufacturer of any US made machine, whether it’s capable of taking the stacked head cutters, or whether it has to comply (for export to the EU) with some rule that’s prevents them being fitted, such as the blade mount assembly being different so they cannot physically be attached to export machines?

As a matter of interest, guards and riving knives are never, ever removed from machines in professional workshops as if caught, the H&S people may well take legal action if the perp. is discovered. I don’t use a table saw anymore as they take up too much room in a smallish workshop and there are other, more accurate ways (albeit slower) of working with the material. I’ve had two table saws and never, under any circumstances did I remove the the crown guard and riving knife. They’re fitted for a very good reason and removing them significantly (in my view) increases the risk of a serious accident, the least of which is probably ‘kickback’.
I can’t comment on the why’s and wherefores of fitting stacked dado heads because I suspect that very few people in the UK use them, but if fitted to a suitable saw, they make an already potentially dangerous machine into something that’s far worse. My advice would be to stay well clear.

Used to use a 30 - 33” circular saw and the kickback on that was crazy, it was a long way from the leading edge of the blade to the riving knife and on a saw that size I was cutting large and heavy baulks of timber.
Got it changed out for a bandsaw reesaw and bought timber in smaller baulk sizes.
Any woodworking machinery should not be underestimated and when these American shows film with guards removed for filming purposes it make me cringe at the thought of all of the DIYers following suit.
Puts me in mind of the old Kenny Everett sketches of the TV DIY presenter🤕

Agreed, but the issue is that a lot of American users remove the guarding as a matter of course and not just for filming purposes. All done “in the best possible taste”…

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Reg Prescott


Nothin wrong with a Dado blade if used in the correct manner, spend five minutes on the HSE web site and see how to use one with a crown guard and riving knife, you would only have to remove the riving knife if it is taller than the blade crown.

Also the link below is to a 3.5mm body saw blade with a 7mm tooth width a good substitute for a Dado stack.

Ok, Kenny Everitt jokes aside, the only alternatives to using a stacked head dado cutter (which would be a much cheaper option on a table saw than for example having to purchase all the various bits and pieces and setting up a router and router table to perform a similar task, that will add considerable costs to the workshop tool list. Following the good advice above on the potential of accidents arsing out of the non-use of unguarded table saw blades, I can only say that being an affectionardo of Youtube woodworking sites, the manner and use of such is always undertaken with care, without apparent difficulty, or the lopping off body parts…

We are all aware I think of safety aspects in respect of woodworking with sharp and high-speed moving parts, and work carefully (‘in the best possible taste’), so I find it interesting that many commenters start discusing the compliance issues with HSE’s H&S requirements, which only apply ‘de-facto’ to those working as a Self-Employed Person or in a business with employees, as opposed to ‘Individuals’ who undertake woodworking as a hobby or for DIY, which is totally unregulated in respect of HSE’s (at work) health & safety requirements - which is where I stand…

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Thanks for that Micheal, I tend to agree with you, as cutting a dado is not a ‘through cut’, therefore no exposed blade(s), and a guard could be used, although the use of feather boards, and hold-downs, using a decent push-stick, ensuring your work is properly aligned and passing the work fully through the blade virtually removes all risk of that…
whilst a wide curf on a blade might achieve a similar dado cut, even with numerous passes if required, I find that wider blades often do not cut as well, and tend to rip-out a little, as opposed to multiple narrow blades which seem less likely to rip-out the adjoining surfaces of the cut… I would certainly prefer to use a stacked dado and just one pass through, as opposed to multiple cuts, for example to form joints with 18mm ply, and cutting 18mm and 9mm slot cuts, both flat and then on end…which appears to be me to be more ‘risky’ and also using a dado head cutter to cut the dado in one pass is half the work as well…

To be perfectly honest I do not use a Dado blade, if I need to cut a housing of some kind I use my router, I find it much easier to set up a running edge to run the router along, than making sure the fence is aligned, hold downs, feather boards and the like, much easier to just clamp a rail in place and run the router along it.

As I mentioned, only in a professional workshop. What the amateur does alone in the 'shop is of no concern to the HSE.

Absolutely correct the HSE have no control over what you do in your own home, unlike your insurance company that will question you or yours about any accident in intricate detail to ensure that all practicable prevention procedures where taken, if any claim is substantial and serious enough, in any subsequent court case, or coroners investigation the HSE may be called as an expert witness to verify this.

HSE intervention is in the workplace only, and regardless of your insurance company’s questions, should an accident at homew doing DIY woodworking be serious enough to make a claim (for being unable to work, disability, or god forbid fatality), HSE would still not be involved…as your DIY is not classed as being ‘At Work’.

In my 40 or so years of DIY, the worst ‘accident’ I have had was a cut/split finger top (and nail), where, due to my friend, who was assisting me lift some heavy timber frames, lost his grip and my finger was in the way when the frame landed…silly me, I should have let go too, but was trying to save it… So far, I have never had an ‘accident’ using a tool, and hope it remains that way…by respecting the fact that they can do a lot of damage very quickly, so always use a safe working method…I think… :slight_smile:

It may not be considered “At Work” but the HSE as a consultant can be called by anyone to act as an expert witness in court.

Well, I suppose someone might be so inclined, but highly unlikely I think…I doubt any insurance company would consider paying the HSE’s ‘fee’s for intervention’ costs, when insurance company’s employ their own staff to investigate insurance claims at a fraction of the hourly rate HSE charges (HSE charges £129.00 per hour plus expenses reasonably incurred).

I expect if they were required to provide ‘expert witnesses’ because you somehow manged to garot yourself on a table saw, or decapitate yourself with a bandsaw, those charges would most likely be more expensive than your average HSE inspectors fee’s for intervention (as in on a construction site).

Of course, in the event of a death of a DIY’er by such means, the Coroner is the ultimate advocate…and I suggest, merely off the top of my head…(pun intended) it could be murder most foul (usually due to other attenuating circumstances (such as the hands tied behind the back being pretty obvious), suicide (given the disposition of some DIY’ers wives to the amount of time spent in the ‘Shed’, this is understandable, or just plain old gross stupidity…

…Can I have my £129.00 cheque now please… :wink:

“£129.00” very reasonable, taking into account the amounts awarded to injured personnel by the courts, being called to give evidence is not as unlikely as you think either, insurance companies will call however they wont to prove that an occurrence was not a claimable event through non compliance with the terms and conditions of the policy, careful coaching by the barrister will ensure the oration will state exactly what is required when being questioned. Even the HSE will call expert witness’s to back a prosecution for negligence, miss conduct or failure to comply with legislative procedures or requirements, it is up to the respondent to prove that all practicable steps where taken to ensure that safe procedures where followed.

I get where you are coming from, and agree that in certain cases, e.g. a member of the public (a.n other person) being injured by a DIY’er carrying out perhaps DIY building/construction or some other work at home, and the potential ramifications that could be applied, particulartly in respect of health and safety, legal compliance and due-diligence etc, but for a self-inflicted personal injury per-sae in a DIY situation in a shed I doubt it would happen…

Any claim for an injury to oneself in the privacy of your domestic residence would likely be under a personal injury insurance cover, and insurance companies, as you point out, have many ways of preventing negligent or fraudulent claims being made, not least their terms and conditions before being able to make a claim, such as being off work due to personal injury for a period of time before any claim will be entertained, and often requiring not only confirmation from medical staff seen, but also their own appointed doctors, and all subject to regular reviews…

For my own part I don’t have, and have never had personal injury insurance… but I do have insurance for my ‘Shed’…which is what my workshop is classed as, being an external temporary building, and no suitable insurance was available under the usual ‘house and contents’ insurance…which is why I had to takle out a seperate insurance policy for it, way over and above what is considered the ‘norm’ for such buildings, that only have a faily low limit on what level of cover will be provided…and really only covers bikes, mowers, garden furniture and the like.

I even had to have an insurance assessor come to look and ‘inspect’ the ‘building’ to ensure it met their standards for protection (for structural integrity, build quality - including electrical installation and wiring, fire and fire protection (fire alarm and extinguishers) and theft/burglary protection (windows, locks and alarm etc), before they would agree to provide insurance cover both on the building, and of course the tools and machinery that are stored/used in it - and not personal injury cover for me whilst in it…although they did try to sell me that too…bless them…!!

so deep and meaningful stuff, if thats what inflates your bubble… :wink:

None of these comments would arise in a handrolic work shop!!

All tools are expensive these days, particularly good hand tools…chisels, planes, saws etc, so if you have lots of such goodies in your shed/workshop, it might be worth getting them properly covered by insurance, especially if their costs exceed the amount of ‘home and contents’ insurance applicable to exterior buildings on your property…