Agreed with James, Doug and Dan. I do a lot of dado's, slots and spines...
If I'm doing just a couple dado's then I use a router. If doing blind dado's, easier to see the start and finish points with router. If just doing a few, then the setup time is marking the stock, picking out a bit and setting up jigs, guides or a fence. Each dado may take a few minutes to cut. But to do a just few, the overall time is less than with a Table Saw. Another factor is how wide the dado is to be and how deep. If over 1/4 inch deep. There's going to be more passes to get there. Usually (depending on the operator), the quality of the dado is finished quality.
If more than a few, then a dado blade set on a table saw.. Takes a few minutes more to set up. I have to set the width of the stack, but I have charts to look at for that. I have a bit extra than others to setup on my saw, as I have to shim the left edge of dado set back "into" the arbor flange // away from the sliding table on the left... but have charts for that also. Still saves time (overall) if doing more than a few at a time. Then change blade inserts to a dado/molder insert. Each dado takes seconds to cut. The quality of the dado depends on the quality of the dado stack and how sharp it is.
Like someone else posted, not all table saws have a long enough arbor for a dado stack. Then also recommended is that it has at least a 1-1/2 hp motor. Then it'll need a dado blade insert to replace the blade insert. Dado sets run between $40 to $350, depending on the quality.
Comparatively, you can cut a dado with any router, with either a straight, mortising or spiral bit. Cost for tooling is lower than tooling up for dado's on a table saw. Dado jigs and guides you can make yourself. (I love the one that James mentioned...)
"Don't worry, I saw this work in a cartoon once."
"Usually learning skills and tooling involves a progression of logical steps."
Last edited by MAFoElffen; 08-31-2013 at 02:51 AM.