Akeda versus Woodhaven/Keller

I hate it when someone expects us to tell them which of two products they should buy. Aren't they capable of researching it themselves, with all the reviews available on the internet?! Oddly enough, I am about to buy it myself.
I want to buy a comprehensive half/through dovetail/box joint system. I have ruled out the Leigh as too complicated and the PC Omnijig as too expensive for what it is. That leaves the Akeda and Woodhaven/Keller. The Akeda is 50% more expensive and more difficult to use, but allows variable spacing. Obviously the W/K is cheaper and foolproof, but less flexible. The way I see it, I will not be using it daily, so I should go for the easy one. And most of my joints will be pretty standard anyhow, so the variable spacing is not worth it.
Here comes the part where I implore you to poke holes in my carefully crafted plan. thank, and sorry for being a woos.
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You will outgrow anything you buy!!!! Or something like that. Once you are thrilled with the non variable spacing, learn how to use it and are proud of your results you will wish for the versatility of the better one. I guess you would be limited to certain drawer sizes with the fixed one. We have an Omni jig which is very nice, but the half blind dovetail fixture works better with certain sized drawers. WE would design the project drawer height to match the tools we have. max

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There are tens of thousands of people who read newsgroups like this. Occasionally -- just occasionally -- there is someone who's bought both of the options [or knows someone with the other one] and can give you an informed opinion on both of them. It's not as stupid a question as it sounds.
Norm
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Does the Akeda do halfblinds in one cut or two? I have read both, and the Akeda website doesn't actually say.
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One cut for tails; one for pins, I think. I saw the through dovetail demo. They'd given the half blind demo 30 minutes earlier. But from what I saw, I'd conclude one cut for tails and one for pins.
You can e-mail the guy on the Akeda site. He's responding to me within 24 hours.

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Akeda responds...I got this e-mail from them:
To "Never Enough Money":
I saw Toller's question about half blinds on rec.woodworking. I tried emailing him, but there's no yahoo account by that name.
I'll try to explain the differences between fixed and variable spacing jigs:
All template jigs cut pins and tails in a single pass. The reason this is possible is because the pin piece is mounted offset behind the tail piece, and the jig forms a rows of equal sized pins, tails, pin sockets and tail sockets. Therefore, template jigs are faster at half blinds than infinitely variable jigs.
You can't cut pins and tails at the same time on a jig with variable spacing, because the joint halves would never match up. For that reason, half blinds made on a variable guide finger jig take more time than on template jigs because you have to reposition the guide fingers.
But . . . we considered just that issue when we designed the variable pitch AKEDA jig. Because the AKEDA is in one sense a "digital" machine (the guide fingers are positioned incrementally) you can make a variable layout of pins at one end of the jig, and a perfectly identical layout of tails at the opposite end. That means you can cut the pins and then go on to cut the tails without stopping, and the pin piece will always fit the tail piece with absolute accuracy. There's only one limitation of course, the work piece widths must be less than half the width capacity of the jig.
Although you'll always have have the same amount of material to remove, when this "fast method" is combined with all the other user friendly features of the jig (such as rabbeted drawer fronts not needing any special treatment), the AKEDA is faster than a template jig and way faster than infinitely variable jigs.
There's a reference to the AKEDA "fast method" for half blinds here:
http://www.akedajigs.com/dc16_halfblind.html
Feel free to post this on rec.wooworking, and if you have any other questions, just ask !
Kevan
--
AKEDA
per: Kevan Lear, President
  Click to see the full signature.
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You can do variable spacing with the Keller. Just move the jig. The Keller cannot do half blinds. Mr. Keller will tell you at the shows to just put a false front on your drawers instead.
I have a Keller and like it a lot. I do dovetails only occasionally, so the ease of set up and the foolproof use are a plus for me. I'll borrow my buddy's Leigh for those times when I have lots of variable spacing to do.
Check out the new (just came out) Porter Cable jig. Looks to be very similar to the Keller.

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from extruded aluminum in their other jigs to stamped steel. Makes you wonder what else they cheapened.
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I have the Leigh and love it. Don't let the huge manual scare you. It took me about an hour with the book in hand to get the hang of it and I have been using it ever since. But if you really don't want the leigh have you looked at the one from Woodrat? It looks interesting and claims to be easy to use. Hope you find one you like. I won't build drawer without a dovetail anymore. BC

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