AKEDA dovetail jig - answers to some questions raised

In an earlier thread about the AKEDA dovetail jig close out deal WoodCraft was (/is?) having, I included a link to some stuff I put together about the jig and why I was really impressed with it. That thread included some questions that someone comparing jigs should want answers to. So I revised the AKEDA stuff and included those questions - and their answers.
Thanks to the people who asked such good questions. I hope my answers ctually answer your questions adequately.
Normally folks are only concerned with How To things. I like studying a tool or machine to try and understand WHY - why did they do This instead of THAT. the more I study the AKEDA design the more I appreciate the thought that went into designing it and the elegant solutions to problems router based dovetail jigs must overcome - by design.
Anyway, here's a link to the Q&A
http://web.hypersurf.com/~charlie2/AKEDAdtJig/AKEDAdovetailJig2A.html
charlie b
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What gives with Akeda now? Is it just Woodcraft closing them out? Is the company OK?
I know Woodcraft provided some financing for the company in exchange for exclusive distribution rights for a certain period, but I have no idea what has gone on since I got bounced from WC.
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Charlie Self wrote:

Well AKEDA rose fom the ashes - literally - after The Fire and recently came out with their new 24" AKEDA dovetail jig. It's not clear to me if LEIGH or AKEDA came out with a 24" model first, but clearly there is an interplay between dovetail jig companies. Both 24" dovetail jigs are showing up in the woodworking magazines, both in reviews as well as advertisements.
Since the new Porter Cable Omni Jig has the same variable spacing idea LEIGH came up with - back to back guides that slide on a bar - I suspect that LEIGH's patent has either expired, or the licensed the right to use the patent to Porter Cable. Given the increasing competition in the variable spacing dovetail jigs, I'm betting the patent date has expired. If that's the case, look for more - and maybe cheaper (in both senses of the word) - variable space back to back guides that slide on a bar.
That may be good or bad, depending on whether the quality and the resulting accuracy of the jigs are maintained as the price drops.
However it plays out, the jigs that use the LEIGH idea will remain "third generation" dovetail jigs, and perpetuate the shortcomings of the "third generation" design. Clamping methods, router support, router bit angles, guide bushings and so on may change - and hope fully improve - but the jigs will still be "third generation" dovetail jigs.
The AKEDA on the other hand is a FOURTH GENERATION dovetail jig that is based on new, patentable concepts/ideas - the "snap in" guides and "1/8th inch incremented ladder" they snap into for easily repeatability and accuracy, as well as the patented belt synchronised internal clamp jaw moving mechanism and "clamp in front of" or "clamp behind" the moveable jaw idea. You'll note that the AKEDA was the first jig that offered more than one dovetail angle - five in fact.
Because the AKEDA's guides can be made with injection molding they can be made faster and less expensively than either cast metal guides or CNC machined guides. And that means new guide shapes and sizes can be brought to marekt quicker and easier - if changes are desired.
I'm gonna bet on AKEDA being around for the next fifteen or twenty years and become more and more popular as the valid reasons why it's design is better than its predecessors become more and more apparent to more and more woodworkers.
It would not surprise me at all if AKEDA comes up with a better design than the LEIGH FMT mortise and tenon jig. It'll be a while since the LEIGH FMT patents probably have 10 or 15 of legal life. When I really look at the LEIGH FMT, I see a lot of the design elements/ideas AKEDA introduced.
For router based jigs, the future holds much promise.
charliel b
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Is the Akeda jig made by the Trend Company? I saw on the British Woodshop program where the jig was exactly the same jig as the Akeda, but had the Trend name molded on. I have the Trend M&T jig and like it very much.
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Dave wrote:

Maybe AKEDA licensed the Euro rights to the jig to TREND, perhaps during the Recover From The Fire Period. Don't know but I'll check that out and put a link to Trend on the AKEDA Links page. Thanks for the info.

I bought one at a woodworking show in 2004. Used it a bit and was kind of disappointed in some of the results. Took a pair of digital calipers to things and found out what I had and what was spec'd in the manual were not always the same - some being different enough to affect the results noticably.
But, as is the case with most minor problems like this there was a work around or the choice of not using it for some tasks it was supposed to do - but didn't. And with some tweeking some of the out of spec problems could be solved. Got extra clamps to solve some of mini-gripes about the jig and got some decent results.
If you're interested in the details of the "problems" they're here
http://web.hypersurf.com/~charlie2/TrendMTjig/TrendMTjig1.html
It was only after I got the DOMINO at a woodworing show that I gave the TREND M&T Jig to a woodworker I met at that show. She had more passion for woodworking than money for tools and couldn't afford the DOMINO so she was saving up to someday get the TREND M&T Jig because she wanted to do more M&T joinery but found handcutting them too time consuming, and sometimes too frustrating.
I think the idea of someone who didn't know her from Adam would give her a jig - for free - NO strings of any kind other than her promise to use it. For me it just made sense - I didn't need it and wouldn't be using it - and she needed it and would use it.
I hope I was right. I don't even know her name but I'd like to think that a woodworker with a passion for woodworking is doing M&T joints that she wouldn't be doing otherwise - or at least not as soon. AND maybe, just maybe, the money stashed away for the jig was used to acquire some really nice wood to work with instead.
charlie b
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Akeda was developed, and is made, by Akeda, up in Canada.
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Do you mean which company came out with the "latest" 24" version first? Leigh had the 24" jig long before Akeda existed.
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Here's the Trend site for the Akeda look-a-like. Trend has a Euro and US patent on the jig. http://www.trend-uk.com/en/UK/product/DC400/6/dovetail%20jig/dovetailing_centre_400mm_.html
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Charlie Self wrote:

Yes, WoodCraft is continuing their "closeout" on the AKEDA DC 16. I say "continuing" because I bought mine from WoodCraft in May of 2007 and it was "closeout priced back then".

Well, they, like LEIGH. have come out with a 24" model so I'd say that's an indication that AKEDA is OK. I'm also seeing reviews and ads for the New 24" AKEDA in several woodworking magazines, along with the Infomercials wood magazines do as "announcements" of the latest and greatest NEW woodworking tools. Same thing is happening with the NEW LEIGH SuperJigs

You can go to www.akeda.com to find out what the company is up to, what products are available and find dealers. I know for sure that www.the jigstore has the AKEDA dovetail jigs - and parts.
You got bounced - off of WoodCentral? I got "un-authorized" from woodworking.org's forum for posting info about my experience with the Festool DOMINO when they first became available here in the US and for posting the url to stuff I put together on handcutting dovetails and turning a lidded box. I did respond to some comments posted about the DOMINO that were incorrect - technical/numeric type stuff and apparently disturbed some one on the forum who apparently thought I was a shill for FESTOOL. I suggested that a google search of my postings to this news group and alt.crafts.woodturning would show that I'm a participating, and hopefully a contributing member of both groups. That got me a "you've been un-authorized - this decision is final - no appeals."
Now I understand that some message boards, forums and groups become a semi private club and cliqueish - but WoodCentral? What do you have to do to get bounced from WC? Did you mistakenly get on a terrorist watch list or what?
charlie b
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Charlie - a quick note responding to your query about my habits:

Love to read, but in the shop I like to work. A compelling argument is made when the manual for one is 1/4 the size of the other.

I hate screwing with things that are supposed to work, and they add more to the task than they should. I think a jig for any operation or any machine should provide 1) repeatability and 2) speed of repeatability 3) ease of use 4) increased speed 5) increased accuracy.
In fact, one of my biggest problems with the Leigh would be that if I used it every six months, I would have to spend another hour getting it set up and re-familiarize myself with it before use.
No thanks.

I personally don't care which generation of any tool I get as long as it fulfills my requirements listed above. I am fine with older tools that do a job in an easy, accurate fashion.

If you only knew. I am as patient as an oyster for the first setup and through the learning curve. After that, I figure I put in my investment, so ANY tool I buy better do what it is supposed to do without problems.
That all being said, I am once again more than a little surprised and pleased at the depth of your investigation and reporting process. Thanks for sharing.
Did you know that Akeda directly linked to your website for your review? I didn't know if you knew about or not, or if there could be bandwidth payment issues to look at. Just a friendly heads up.

The JIgstore specifically spells out that the dust collection is NOT included in the $329 16" package. With the dust collection/7bit set (which is the next step up) it is $389.
To get all accessories including all the router bits, more fingers, etc., the "everything package" (the next step up after the dust collection upgrade) it brings the total to $479 plus shipping. I would guess with shipping you would be in the $525 range for "everything".
There is similar pricing on the 24" blanket chest jig, with prices detailed as above for $439.99, $489.99, $589.99, plus (insured?) shipping on about 50 pounds.
I believe in both cases you must buy the router collet reducer for the basic jig (none noted on the shipping details) for either jig, but it is included as part of the 2nd tier upgrade.
So much for The Jigstore.
Definitely, without a doubt at $339 for both the 16" jig plus the full accessory package of everything (the top tier upgrade from the Jigstore) is the best deal going away. And with no shipping, this puts them about +/- $I75 (!!!) less than the Jigstore. I am starting to get that itch on the credit card...
Interesting to note though, that the Leigh Super jig from Woodcraft is priced at $145.99 for the 12" and $269.99 for the 18" and both have three bits >>and include<< three router bits to get started with, and the collet reducer to use them All as their basic package. No wonder they are sold out. Who would have thought you would have Leigh <anything> for $145.99?
Add in their equivalent of the "everything" package, and you wind up with $319 for the 12" and $389 for the 18" jigs.
The point of all this is that if you are watching your bucks, AFTER the Woodcraft sale is off and you are stuck with places like the Jigstore, the Leigh jig with everything you need to get started (router bits and reducer) at $150 could be a sweet deal. When the Woodcraft deal is gone, the Leigh jig will be cheaper by $150 for the "everything package".
But take a look at the basic package too, considering what the market will be like when the Woodcraft deal is gone. If the "basic" package on the Akeda16 is $329, you still must keep in mind that you have to buy bits, and a collet reducer. This would probably add $50 to the basic package to make it "apples to apples" with the Leigh Superjig, or $379.
When you look at the entry level Superjig machine at $145 for the 12" and $269 for the 18", it could do some really powerful marketing for you since there is nothing else to buy to get started. Yes, it is more fiddly, but the price differences for the entry level machines in particular might make it worth it.
A guy walks into the store and asks for the two minute drill on drawer jigs. He won't be using it in a production environment, and will only be using it about every 6 months or so.
- well says the helpful attendant, you could buy this one, base price is $329, but you still have to buy bits and a collet reducer for another $50 - so say $379. It has a 16" capacity, and is really easy to use and set up
- or you could buy this one, base price is $269. It has 2" more capacity than the other one. It has three bits included, a collet reducer, and is ready to go out the door. It is harder to learn, but it comes with a detailed book and a DVD to help you get started. Oh yeah, did I mention it is $110 cheaper? Throw in the savings on sales tax and you are knocking on $120! You can buy the dust bed for this for about $69, and still be way under the 16" job.
The both cut variably spaced dovetails, they both cut different sizes of box joints, and they both cut half blind dovetails. So the end product is the same, it's just how you get there and how often you want to go.
Which one do you want me to take down, sir?
All of my notes here are really market and pricing driven in their intent. I am not comparing quality of the jigs, their engineering or ease of use. It seems like Akeda has that one won. It does seem like I need to get my self down to WC and get on the deal before it goes away.
I have only one question for you Charlie, and it is based on your use of the jig.
Will it cut half blind dovetails on a rabbeted drawer front?
No one I know seems to know the answer.
Thanks again for the good work.
Robert
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Amen.
KISS applies.

Last, but not least, SAFETY.

One of the reasons I still run W98SE as an operating system and run my business with DOS2.0 applications is it is simple and gets the job done.
The task hasn't changed so why should the computer/software package?

Yep, see above.

Yep
I gave up reinventing the wheel a long time ago..
Lew
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To answer Nailshooter's question
page 33 of the manual - 6.1 Advanced joinery How To Cut Rabbeted Drawer Fronts ( you can download the AKEDA manual off their site if you want to see the illustrations and all of the text - all of it on one "half page" page.
"Rabbeted drawer fronts require no special set ups, provided the rabbetis 1/2" wide or less, and the remaining "blind" material is a minimum 1/4" deep. Rabbet thicnkess is influenced by the drawer front thickness and the dovetailcutter to be used."
Interestingly, the horizontal parts mode left and right fences / registering stops have a notch in them specifically to accomodate a drawer front that overlays the drawer opening by up to 1/2".
There's even a suggested method for shimming if the rabbets are wider than 1/2". Can't think of a good reason for an overlay drawer that overlays its drawer opening by more than 1/2" but it's nice to know that the AKEDA design included a way to do it.
The deeper I get into the AKEDA the more built ins I discover that I didn't know I'd ever need.
Someone REALLY thought through all the things a router based dovetail jig system should do - for the users.
charlieb
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Charlie, you are a prince! Thanks for the direct reply.
> Interestingly, the horizontal parts mode left and

Perfect. That's certainly been the norm size on my old PC jig.

For me, 3/4" overlay that functions as the drawer stop as well as sealing the edges of the drawer is perfect for shop drawers or any other heavy duty overlay drawer. Not so pretty in the kitchen, but great on a work table of any type that gets banged around.

Well, I guess that pretty well seals it for me. The Akeda 16 seems to be a great value not only in price, but in actual value in the shop.
Thanks -
Robert
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SNIP

Charlie - got the file. I was really impressed by the clamping system that automatically sets the overlay at 1/2", as well as they way it holds the wood. Since all I have seen of the Akeda is the unboxed model in WC, I couldn't imagine how it could be done.
This may be more important than one might think, especially for someone that does this kind of work for a living as I have it from one of my cabinet shop buddies (and recently read a article) that half overlay doors are making a small comeback for kitchen cabs to make them look more sleek.
Of course you can rabbet doors on anything from a table saw to a hand held router, but what about a dovetailed/rabbeted drawers to match?
I know you can do them with other jigs, but seeing what you sent changes the game. The Akeda makes it a simple matter of clamping the wood in the right spot which is positively referenced by a stop in the jig clamping caul, and getting started.
What an elegant solution.
Robert
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

That's the thing about the AKEDA - most everything is inside, out of sight. When you look at the pictures of the "other jigs" it's really impressive to see all the levers and nobs and scales and sliding guide fingers with allen head screws and cam lever handles, etc.. And they all look similar - and therefore familiar. When you first see the AKEDA it looks anything but familiar. It's not at all obvious what does what or how it does "it".
And some of what it does isn't familiar because you haven't seen it anywhere else - the front clamp jaw for example. It allows you to clamp behind it like on other jigs - BUT - it also lets you clamp in front of it. And the One Hand operation thing isn't obvious because it uses a toothed belt to move both ends of the jaw in parallel by turning either of the screws on either end.
Re: how it deals with half blinds on rabbeted drawer front

The more I study the AKEDA the more the term "elegant solution" keeps coming up. In addition to the universal "challenge" of getting the right depth of cut - for the ACTUAL thickness of your stock (as opposed to the NOMINAL size which rarely is even close to being the nominal size) - the parts orientation and manipulation process isn't obvious or intuitive. Flip a part when going from cutting the sockets on one end to cut the sockets in the other end - instead of "spinning it 180 degrees, or putting the wrong face towards "the back", etc.. can result in joints that CAN'T WORK or put the "show face" inside. etc. ALL the router based dovetail jigs face this "challenge".
Am working on an illustration that visually makes it obvious what you should do with each part to get the Pins and Tails cut where they should go - and end up with Outside outside and the top edges of the parts to come out flush when the parts are fit together.
Will post a link to the page if and when I get it done.
charlie b
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That's been the killer for me. To my eyes, it looks like a piece of extruded channel in the shape of a box with a slot in it that takes little plastic teeth for guides. And you nailed it... (I am sitting here snickering at myself) with all the knobs, microadjustments, screw adjustments, metal teeth, some of the other jigs look like I am used to them looking, and the more they have, the more they seem to mean business.
I REALLY think they should post their manual online, and maybe a quick video showing the most basic operations.

Charlie, when you get that next part done, I hope you start a new thread. I know I can't be the only one following this.
Robert
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On Tue, 19 Feb 2008 23:28:48 -0800 (PST), " snipped-for-privacy@aol.com"

Woodcraft had videos on they're site, I do not know if they are still there. I down loaded them, my Akeda jig sits and waits though. But there is hope our old house may sell soon.
Mark (sixoneeight) = 618
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As far as I know, my status on Woodcentral is as always, jus' fine. I got bounced at Woodcraft some years ago. It is not my favorite company, primarily because I never learned to watch for backstabbers. A major problem when you haven't done anything in a corporate environment in something like 30 years, and then for a corporation that had seven employees.
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Charlie-- After reading through your posts I went ahead and ordered an Akeda from Woodcraft. I actually have the Leigh D4R, which I used on one project, and found incredibly hard to master. I eventually got the hang of it, but set up was very difficult and required many test cuts, and the end result was not overwhelming. I know some of that (most of that?) must have been my fault, but it was frustrating. And as someone else said, i worried that because i'm not cutting dovetails all that often, the next time i go to use the jig i'll face the same learning curve all over again. It seemed to me that centering the router bit was absolutely critical with the Leigh--is that true for the Akeda as well?--and once I got the bit as close to dead center as I could, it also helped to keep the router in the same position throughout all the cuts...anyway, it was a real indulgence but I'm eager to try the Akeda...Thanks for all the info... Eric
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snipped-for-privacy@aolnojunk.com wrote:

I have been using the JoinTech Cabinet Maker System on my router table to do through and half blind dovetails as well as box joints. The relearning curve is a little flatter after you've done your first run of four or more drawers. But there's still that setting the bit's depth of cut thing to the ACTUALL thickness of the stock and remembering the sequence/procedure for pins and tails. Different way of doing dovetail than using a dovetail jig but still involves "cognitative friction" - the effect of what you're doing is not initially obvious and connecting the end results with what caused them takes a bit of mental gymnastics - and cutting dovetails, even by hand involves some cognitive friction (focus on cutting To The Line - and miss the fact that you're cutting on THE WRONG SIDE OF THE LINE. Get all done chopping out the "waste" and then discover that you've just chopped off the pin you were supposed to keep. MARK THE WASTE SIDE!)
The AKEDA is a low cognitative friction jig

Yes, any jig that uses a guide collar has the potential to cause problems that aren't obvious - the outside diameter may be out of spec - the outside may not actually be round - the guide collar may not be centered on the bit - or visa versa The AKEDA is no exception. They do provide their own guide collar which is made to tighter tolerances than some of the NINE FOR ONLY $29.90!
While it's a good idea to keep the router handles position staying parallel to the front or back of the jig to minimize (but not eliminate) problems caused by out of round guides, it's just one more thing the router based dovetail jig system should do FOR you.
Because the Depth of Cut thing is so important for good results even the type of collet can make a difference. The dovetail bits want to pull themselves down into the cut - and out of the collet. Because of the bit's small shank diameter a "two slit" collet may not provide enough gripping power whereas a "four slit" collet usually does.

Hey, when you add up all the moisturizing creams, hand lotions, special shampoos, conditioners, "body splashes", mascaras eye liners, 20 pairs of earrings, fourteen gold chains with pendants, ten or fifteen pairs of shoes, 25 belts and a dozen or two scarves, . . . shouldn't catch any hell for the cost of "indulging" in a dovetail jig - or two ; )
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