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by Steven D. Johnson
Racine, Wisconsin

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Festool Dado Gauge

Cutting dados on the router table is easy, quick, and accurate. And if you are lucky enough to find some undersize plywood that matches your undersize plywood router bit, it works great. But when building cabinets some pieces can simply be too large for the router table. The choice then is to go to the table saw or to a hand held router with some sort of guide or jig.

The Festool Guide Rail system is an outstanding tool for cutting straight lines with the Festool TS-55 or Festool TS-75 plunge cut saw, and should be just as good when cutting dados with a router, but I was initially frustrated by trying to line up the Guide Rail, line up the router bit with the mark, and get the placement of the dado perfect.

If you have shared this frustration, or tried making any one of literally hundreds of homemade jigs and been less than thrilled, try this little trick. First, set up your router and the Guide Rail using the curiously named Guide Stop. I prefer to call this little item the "Router Rail Guide". Generally bereft of instructions, the photo in the link above shows one way, probably the preferred way, to set up the Router Rail Guide. I set mine up a little differently, but either way should work fine.

Glue a small board to a larger board of the same material, or at lease the same material thickness, as that in which you want to rout a dado. Then clamp this "go-by" piece to a test piece and to the Guiderail, as shown, and rout a groove all the way through the "go-by" and into the test work piece.

To use the "go-by" hold the "fence" portion of the "go-by" flush with the raised edge of the guide rail and line up the dado with your intended cut mark. Line up the other end the same way, clamp down the Guide Rail, and rout away. The dado or groove will be properly located, straight and true, and best of all, quick and easy.

Unless you leave your Festool router and Router Rail Guide assembled and the settings undisturbed, you will need to make a new "go by" the next time dados are needed. But this little "go by" only takes a couple of minutes to make and the return on time investment is significant. Try it.

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