Dovetail router jigs.

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
Ok, you guys that make lots of dovetailed drawers, what do you use?
What would you get if you could have anything on the market?
Is there a jig that is easy to set up and easy to use that does a good job of cutting through as well as half dovetail drawer parts?

Can you compare the Leigh jig to the INCRA router jig?
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
Mike,

I only make half blind dovetails for drawers. I use a HF dovetail jig with a Grizzly template guide. The HF is sturdy steel with a minimum of plastic parts. But the template guide is cast and pretty rough. I also wanted 7/16 spacing and it is 1/2 inch. But the Grizzly guide was not expensive and is much nicer. Set up is a little complicated but it's also pretty much a one time thing. I keep a bit and guide bushing on an old PC 690 so I can be cutting joints in just a few minutes. I almost always dovetail the backs too, because it is just so easy. The biggest limitation (other than no through dovetails) is the need for drawer height in multiples of 7/8 inch. I often use Woodsmith plans and they make their drawer heights in these increments.

Jim
 

Dave Richards

Dave
Senior User
I'll throw this out. My preference for router cut dovetails is my Router Boss for a number of reasons.

  • No template required. You can make a story stick as a guide or use a scale or the DRO or you can do the layout on the fly.
  • No requirement for stock width to be in 7/8 in. or other increments.
  • I can use absolutely any dovetail router bit. I like high speed steel dovetail bits better than carbide because they are slimmer for their cutting depth. No limitation on cutter angle like with the Leigh and other jigs.
  • Easiest for proper setup and you don't need the instruction manual out every time you want to cut some dovetails. If it is set up incorrectly it's very easy to figure out what you need to change to get it right.
  • It's not limited to a small set of operations. Through and half-blind dovetails are just the start.
  • Mounts on the wall. Always ready for use and always put away.
It's not the cheapest dovetail jig out there but then it isn't just a dovetail jig.

FWIW, here's a dovetail joint and the bit I used to cut it.


And another cut with a slightly larger bit.
 
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Strom

Strom
Senior User
I don't make a lot of dovetailed drawers anymore . I have both the incra super fence on my router table and the Leigh D4 jig. They are both a little fussy to set up but once you get it you can make great dovetails with either. If I had to choose I would go with the Leigh for the capability of larger work and taking the tool to the work rather than vice versa.
 

drw

Donn
Corporate Member
I have a Leigh jig (Super 18), which is a great tool...but, it wasn't cheap and I find it fussy to set up...but, once you have it calibrated it does a great job. Coincidentally, this past week I started finding a home in my new shop for the Super 18, so the challenges of setting it up are fresh on my mind.:rolleyes:
 

red

Papa Red
Red
Senior User
I have the 24" Leigh jig purchased back in the 90's and love it. It is fully adjustable, easy to use and will cut all kinds of dovetails. Not sure what the model number is but the newer version is still available today.

Red
 

KenOfCary

Board of Directors, Treasurer
Ken
Staff member
Corporate Member
Mike, I bought a Rockler Dovetail jig and the dust collection hood for it about 5 years ago and have never used it. If you want one, its yours. Can't say much about it as like I said, I've never used it.
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
Mike, I bought a Rockler Dovetail jig and the dust collection hood for it about 5 years ago and have never used it. If you want one, its yours. Can't say much about it as like I said, I've never used it.
I’m asking for a friend, I think he has a Rockler and looking for something better and easier to set up.
 

cyclopentadiene

Update your profile with your name
User
I started with a Rockler jig. It worked fine but everything looks the same. Later I invested in a Leigh Jig and it is excellent. This allows the spacing to be adjusted to appear more like hand cut dovetails. The only limitation is the pin width does have a minimum that is much larger than cutting them by hand. One thing that helps significantly is to have two routers so you can set the depth of the cuts without adjusting the router depth.
Once you cut all of the tails, you can start the pins too large and slowly creep up on the size until the fit is perfect. I find the Leigh offset guide much more trouble than it is worth. I never seem to pick the router up in the same orientation so I have no clue where the offset is located. Once one set of pins is optimized, the others can be cut very quickly.
I prefer the looks of hand cut dovetails with very thin pins. However, I have never done a set by hand that fit as firmly as a jig cut dovetail. I am not satisfied with my hand cut versions and have a lot of respect for those that can get the fit perfect.
 

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