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Hi all,

I'm making one of the mudroom benches from the ana white plans for the "samantha entryway bench". You can see the plans here.

It is basically a 50" long bench with three cubbies. Instead of pocket screwing the dividers, sides, and top and bottom together, I'd like to dado them. I did it once and it didn't come out correct, so I missed something somewhere.

I was wondering if any of you had tips for aligning dados in opposing pieces.

I have seen the tip where you lay the pieces that you want matching opposing dados in side by side with say the front edges touching, and rout the dados across both pieces.

However, I was thinking of joining the top to the side with a rabbet on the inside top of each side piece, and the bottom panel will fit into dados about 3" up from the bottom on each side.

Finally there will be 3 dados in the top and bottom panel for the dividers to slide into. 

So I need to take into account the amount of the bottom panel that will be in the dados on either side panel, as well as the offset for the rabbet in the top of the side panel. Am I making this too complicated? I'm confusing myself as I type lol.

Any suggestions are appreciated.

Jason

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Jason, if I understand your question for your project I would proceed as follows:  You want to build a bench that id 50 inches long and want to use dados for the middle dividers and also for the sides.  The method for doing the sides where you want the top to overlap the end grain of the sides.  This is where you would use a rabbit which is 1/2 of a dado (has open side)

In this example the bench will be 50 inches long and 24 inches high.  (which if too tall to sit comfortable so I would adjust these end height to fit the height you desire).   For this example I will stick to the 24 inch high bench.  We will be using 3/4 inch thick material.

First cut the top and the bottom at 50 inches long.  lay them side to side as you described above and lay out the dado for your mid panels.  Mark an "X" on both pieces to reference the front and back of the material.  Cut the dados in both pieces cutting to exact 3/8 " deep and 3/4 inch wide.  Now mark the top and the bottom so you will not get them mixed up.  Take the bottom piece and cut exactly 3/8 inches off each end. This should leave you with a bottom that is 49 and 1/4 inches long. 

Cut the two end pieces to 23 and 5/8 inches long.  Measure up and mark the exact 3 inches you wish to leave open under the bench and cut a 3/8 inch deep by 3/4 inch wide dado,  Be sure you cut on the correct side of the line so that the dado is towards the top.  this sizes up the ends.  Now each end panel cut a 3/8 deep x 3/8 wide dado which is really a rabbit.  Be sure it is on the same side of the panel as the dado is cut.

The remaining steps are to cut there inside panels which should be 21 inches long.  The last cutting to do is the top panel for the bench which is the 50 inch long panel.  Cut a 3/8 deep by 3/8 wide dado which is again a rabbit.

The final step is assemble the bench making sure to keep the "X' mark to the front of the bench. 

the reason for the 3/8 inch deep rabbits and dado is that is 1/2 the thickness of the 3/4 material and they should be kept the same.  Use glue.

If you would like a drawing to further explain this please advise and I would be happy to provide you one. 

Jason I hope this will answer any question you may have about what I described about the dado lay out.

The reason I would do the rabbits the way I have described is to prevent any open wood grain from showing on the top.  The end grain would be rough and would easily become snagged and or splintered.  This was the only showing open grain will be the side and it is easily sanded down to where it will not be a problem. THERE IS A CORRECTION ON THE RABBIT AS I WROTE ON THE DIAGRAM.  THEY SHOULD BE 3/8 INCHES DEEP AND 3/8 WIDE NOT 3/8 DEEP AND 2/4 WIDE.

Jay, so I should cut a 3/8 x 3x8 rabbet on the underside of each end of the top panel, and a 3/8 x 3/8 rabbet on the top inside of each side panel? Sure, a drawing would help me visualize it better, if you have the time.

Yes that is correct. 
 
Jason Watkins said:

Jay, so I should cut a 3/8 x 3x8 rabbet on the underside of each end of the top panel, and a 3/8 x 3/8 rabbet on the top inside of each side panel? Sure, a drawing would help me visualize it better, if you have the time.
Thanks so much Jay, that really helps me a lot. I was going to ask why not just cut 3/4" from one end of the bottom panel, but I think I answered my question as I looked at your diagram.

If 3/4" were cut off one end of the bottom, it would still come out to 49 & 1/4", but the dados on the bottom panel that were cut earlier would not be equal distances from the inside of the sides, nor would they still line up with the top panel dados.

I hope that is correct. If not please let me know where my thinking went wrong.

  You are very welcome anytime.   You got it figured out exactly right.  It is the easy way to lay out the dados on this particular project and will come out strong and square.  Don't know if you thought about it or not but you can really add strength to the inter panel by screwing screw in from underneath and they will still be hidden.  Another trick I use in securing dado panels is to toe nail the panel from each side using a 1 inch pin nail shooting then at the joint at about a 45 degree angle from the panel into the top.  Helps hold them solid until the glue dries and also gives adds support as well.  Enjoy the build and have a great experience in the shop building the project.  It does look pretty nice and a very good idea.
 
Jason Watkins said:

Thanks so much Jay, that really helps me a lot. I was going to ask why not just cut 3/4" from one end of the bottom panel, but I think I answered my question as I looked at your diagram.

If 3/4" were cut off one end of the bottom, it would still come out to 49 & 1/4", but the dados on the bottom panel that were cut earlier would not be equal distances from the inside of the sides, nor would they still line up with the top panel dados.

I hope that is correct. If not please let me know where my thinking went wrong.
Jay I am stuck. My side panels are 17 & 1/4" tall. I understand everything except how to determine how tall the two interior dividers should be. Any light you can shed would be appreciated.


Jason if everything is figured on and is definitely 3/8" size, for the rabbit depth and the dado  depth.  Then to figure the inter panels length measure the distance between the bottom of the rabbit and top of the dado and add 3/4 inch.  That puts the panel into the dado for the top and the dado for the bottom.  Any difference in the depth of either the rabbit or the dado will cause the length needed to change.  Since you are using 3/4 inch thick material, the dado should be no more that half of the thickness of the 3/4" material. Refer to the diagram:
Jason Watkins said:

Jay I am stuck. My side panels are 17 & 1/4" tall. I understand everything except how to determine how tall the two interior dividers should be. Any light you can shed would be appreciated.
Ok great, thanks so much Jay! I've got the sides and top/bottom cut to length. Now I just need to cut the rabbets/ dados , then I'll do a dry fit to get the AB length, then cut the dividers.

Jason, The easy way to find the correct length if you do not trust your dado and rabbit depth is to dry assemble the pieces  and use a bar clamp to hold them together.   Then use a tri-square and check the 4 corners to insure that they are square.  Since it is a long bench the top and bottom will sometimes try to bow in or out.  To insure that they are actually true across surface use a string method.  Attach a string pulled tight across the span on both the top and bottom from side to side.  It they are true the sting will not have a bow in the middle but will lay flat on material.  Then take two small pieces of wood that when combined. are longer than the span of the top to bottom and a "C" clamp.  Fit them in the dado and slide one stick against the other until it is  seated in both top and bottom dado.   Tighten the "C" clamp.  Remove the two sticks and the "C" clamp and measure the distance.  That is the length of the inter panel.  This will save you some frustration and save on material. 

This is also a good method of determining a true measure between to objects like a side wall and a partition in a cabinet.  Other wise if you use a tape measure you cannot get the actual tape against one of the sides so the  then you have  to calculate what the actual reading.  Most often the reading is not true. 


 
Jason Watkins said:

Ok great, thanks so much Jay! I've got the sides and top/bottom cut to length. Now I just need to cut the rabbets/ dados , then I'll do a dry fit to get the AB length, then cut the dividers.

Good tip,  Jay

the 'ol story-stick method of measure.

''yard-sticks'' works well also,

(or if one is into metric, a ''meter stick'').

Orientated such that one can get a close measurement, by adding up the dimensions.

(close enough for government work).

I was measuring out a kitchen, recently, for placement of cabinetry---

I was placing down yard-sticks, for location of the cabinets---

the guy asks, ''whatcha doin'  '' ?

I'm using ''marked lumber'' for locating the cabinets---

like using dowsing rods, for finding oil, and mark where to drill.

Good idea, where'd you learn that?

I said, it's an 'ol indian trick.

 

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