Dovetail Jigs??

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TracyB

New User
Tracy
I have never cut a dovetail in my life. I was thinking about getting a DT jig for just in case I ever want to. Problem is I know nothing about them. Some reviews I have read say not to get plastic templates(like Rockler) because they flex too much. I don't want to put a ton of money in one because I don't know how much i would ever use it. If price was no issue I would get the 24" PC I saw at Klingspors show, but unfortunately price matters. I just want a good one at a good price. Some cut half blind DT and some through DT. What are the advantages of each or is it just personal preference? I have looked at the PC 4212. I really didn't want to pay that much but it comes with everything plus a $20 rebate. Which ones do most of you all use?
Any help would be appreciated,

TracyB
 

tom hintz

New User
Tom Hintz
I vote for the Leigh. I have their D4, been using it for about 7 years and still love it whenever I use it. It also has the best instrudtion manual ever written for a woodworking tool. Of course, there are some who think it sucks but they are goofy and I wrote a story about just that point. See the first link below. The second link is to my reivew of the Leigh D4. It is pricey but worth every nickle.

http://www.newwoodworker.com/leighmanual.html

http://www.newwoodworker.com/reviews/leighjig.html
 

Joe Scharle

Joe
Corporate Member
Tracy, I've got a Woodrat, Leigh Super, MLCS and an on-sale $19.95 Harbor Freight. If I'm going to knock out a couple of kitchen drawers with half blinds, I'll always grab the Harbor Freight. It stays set for 1 router & 1 bit. If I want to do a lot of nice drawers, I'll use the gang cutting, unlimited bit selection and infinite spacing ability of the Woodrat. I'm still trying to find a use in my mix for the Leigh. I will say that if I didn't have a Woodrat, I'd use the Leigh a lot more. It's easy to setup (great manual) and cuts thru & half-blind, all with variable spacing. Also cuts one pass machine spaced half-blinds (like the HF), and box joints. Will cut short sliding DTs too. Mine came with the VRS and that is a super feature you'll appreciate after you cut a dozen without it.
 

PeteM

Pete
Corporate Member
If you're doing this for fun why not just get some boards and practice hand cutting them. It's really not that hard (after some practice) and there are many tutorials and how-to's on the web. Jigs are great if you plan on doing a bunch of dovetails but if you're only doing a few and you're not in a hurry it's quite satisfying to cut them by hand.

Just a thought . . .

pete
 
R

rickc

I bought the Keller Dovetail jig. It is relatively easy to set up, and I picked up a couple HF trim routers and keep bits in them just for this jig. I can get some pretty decent dovetails using it.

Now that being said - I don't make a lot of dovetails. The couple of times I have used it, I have spent nearly as much set up time as actually using them. I am going to start practicing handcut dovetails after the holidays. I dropped some not so gentle hints about the type of saw I wanted, a book by Rob Cosman and picked up a dovetail marking guide. Do a search on Cosman on this forum and you will find one of the threads has a real nice link to a video demonstration of hand cut dovetails.

I believe after watching the video, you will come away with the thought that with a little bit of patience you could do them as well.
 

Don Sorensen

New User
Butch
i too have never cut a dovetail in my life. But I was inspired by the hand cut demo at the Klingspor extravaganza - so I too have dropped a couple subtle hints about hand saws that I'd like for Xmas - having no idea what they cost. Now I know, and I'm even more excited to see what ends up under the tree.

I'm sure cutting a few dovetails will be a great use for a post New Years Hang over.
 

cpowell

New User
Chuck
I bought a Keller jig with router bits 5-6 years ago for through DTs. It works very well but only through DTs - not half blinds.

I have been playing with handcut DTs for the past year. They offer unlimited options for spacing, tail angles, size, and shapes of drawers/edges (curves or straight edges). It took me a while to produce repeatable results but I really like the appearance of handcut DTs.

FWIW the Keller jig will produce very consistent DTs with a short learning curve.

Chuck
 

Travis Porter

New User
Travis
I have a Leigh 24" and a Porter Cable 4212. The Leigh can be complex to use, but is extremely flexible. I bought the PC more for speed and repeats because with the Leigh you have to cut each part separately whereas with the 4212 on half blind dovetails you can do both parts at the same time.

I used to have a craftsman jig with the plastic templates. All in all, I had no complaints or issues with the templates. What I did have issues with was the board clamping system. It seemed that a lot of the time I could not get the boards clamped securely enough and they slipped.

My recommendation would be to get a low priced unit that uses cam action levers for clamping the board, not screw knobs and the clamping bar is fairly substantial. Not sure if the harbor freight or rockler use the cams, but if they do, start there, and then move up if you decide dovetail jigs are for you.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
I use a HF to do drawers (half blind dovetails). It has an aluminum template guide and if you want a different spacing, the ones Grizzly sells fit. I usually use the Grizzly template for 7/8 spacings. The guide that comes with the jig is 1 inch spacing. It is a versatile jig. You may need to do a little filing to get things to fit together right but it's pretty much all metal and solidly made. Many other jigs that cost more are essentially the same. There are basically two types of half-blind jigs. One type which I used at first stops the cut by the guide on the router hitting the back of the slot of the template guide. The way the HF works is it has a separate stop for the router base to control the depth. The first type of jig will only work on 1/2 inch or thicker stock. The HF works fine with 1/2 baltic birch that is less than 1/2 inch thick.

Normally you use through dovetails in case work (like a blanket chest) where you want to the joint to show. Half blind dovetails are usually used for drawers. You can do a case with half blind, however, or a drawer with through dovetails. Once you get a half blind jig set up, you can cut dovetails pretty fast. I see little reason to use other joints for drawers.

If you get a HF, look around for better instructions. The ones that came with mine were terrible. Fortunately I knew that and had better ones.

Jim
 

BarryC

New User
Barry
Tracy I have the PC 4212 if you want to come check it out before you buy one. I bought the Woodriver el cheapo from Woodcraft and that was a complete waste of money. I tried for 2 days and a lot of scrap wood to make it work with no luck. My first try with the PC 4212 was very very close to perfect.
 

JJD

New User
John
I was able to get a PC 4212 for cheap when our local Rockler store went out of business...the last one they had. It works very well, although a drawback to it is that you have to basically cut the DTs in a regularly spaced pattern. Recently, I decided that if I was going to really be a woodworker, then I needed to be able to cut them by hand. After about 15 so far, I am making good progress. The DVD from Rob Cosman is worth its weight in gold! One of the many good things about hand-cut DTs is that you can space them any way you want. I have NOT done half-blind DTs by hand, so that is probably next....
 

Joe Scharle

Joe
Corporate Member
I use a HF to do drawers (half blind dovetails). It has an aluminum template guide and if you want a different spacing, the ones Grizzly sells fit. I usually use the Grizzly template for 7/8 spacings. The guide that comes with the jig is 1 inch spacing. It is a versatile jig. You may need to do a little filing to get things to fit together right but it's pretty much all metal and solidly made. Many other jigs that cost more are essentially the same. There are basically two types of half-blind jigs. One type which I used at first stops the cut by the guide on the router hitting the back of the slot of the template guide. The way the HF works is it has a separate stop for the router base to control the depth. The first type of jig will only work on 1/2 inch or thicker stock. The HF works fine with 1/2 baltic birch that is less than 1/2 inch thick.

Normally you use through dovetails in case work (like a blanket chest) where you want to the joint to show. Half blind dovetails are usually used for drawers. You can do a case with half blind, however, or a drawer with through dovetails. Once you get a half blind jig set up, you can cut dovetails pretty fast. I see little reason to use other joints for drawers.

If you get a HF, look around for better instructions. The ones that came with mine were terrible. Fortunately I knew that and had better ones.

Jim


Best manual I've found for the HF, Rockler, Grizzly is at;

http://grizzly.com/images/manuals/h0983_m.pdf

The router base size to back fence table is invaluable.
 

Outa Square

New User
Al
thanks joe

i have a jet that is similar/maybe the same. I paid $40 at the woodworking shop in hickory sometime ago, and i misplaced the directions or i think they might have blown off the back i my truck:embarrassed:

they still have it on their website as $40, here is a link


It just does half blind dove tails... i can't vouch for it as i have'nt used it but it is similar to the one joe mentioned.
 
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TracyB

New User
Tracy
Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I thought I had my mind pretty much made up. But now with all these fine suggestions, I am thinking about different options. I will have to think on it a little more. I threw out some hints to Santa, so I will have to wait and see if I have been a good boy before I make my mind up for sure.
Thanks again,
TracyB
 

woodrat

New User
Archie
I have the AKEDA 16" Dovetail jig. Have used it a lot and have been
well pleased with the ease of set up and use. I especially like their
dust/chip collection system.

Here is a link to them. http://akeda.com/index.html :icon_thum
It's worth a look.


Good luck.
 

junquecol

Bruce
User
The PC 4212 is about $170 everywhere. I don't know if it a a discounted item at Klingspor's, but if it is, that knocks off about $17, and then there is a $20 rebate from PC. Brings it down to $140 +/- and taxes if all discounts and rebates are applied. Been eyeing one for a couple of months now. Amazon just started selling it through a third party, with higher price and no free freight. BOO- HISS!
 
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