Dovetail jig -- why?

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I know I'm going to get accused of trolling, but I am going to ask anyway, in hopes that someone will give a serious answer.
Why do so many hobbyists use dovetail jigs? My experience is very limited -- early in my participation in the woodworking hobby, and with crappy equipment (Craftsman 1/4" router and Craftsman dovetail jig) so maybe that is tainting my view. But I find cutting dovetails by hand to be rewarding. And while my results are well shy of the "gee-whiz" handcut DT's you see at a woodworking show, I can pull open a file drawer in my desk and from two feet away not see the flaws in the DTs. Looking at them, I remember fondly the satisfaction of doing my first 1/2-blind dovetails. I don't think I would get that from looking at precisely milled and "sterile" dovetails.
I understand the appeal of a jig for production work, where time is money. Even as a hobbyist, I would be tempted for something like drawers in cabinetry, where there is a lot of repetition. But for recreational building of furniture, boxes etc., I don't get it. And these jigs are pretty darned expensive.
Here's the rationales I see: Production work where time is money High-volume repetitive work, e.g, 24 identical drawers Decorative (I'm tempted to say "gimmicky", but that is a matter of taste) dovetails with contrasting wood layers, unusual shapes, etc. [in another thread, Larry Bud said:] "I can understand why someone would want to cut them by hand, but I don't have the patience or time to learn to cut them equivalent to the quality of the D4."
Are there other appeals to the process of machining dovetails?
BTW, I am not a dedicated Neander, but I don't share Larry's goals of having my hand-cut dovetails look machine-cut. And if I look at $400 for a D4 jig + $50+ for bushings and bits (assuming that a router would not be an incremental cost), I could buy a medium quality japanese dt saw, a set of medium quality chisels (if I didn't already have them), layout and marking tools, and have $300+ left over for practice lumber, which would be lots of fun. And the skills I develop are not subject to limitations on thickness of wood, width or length of workpiece, etc.
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Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.

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Does "too each his own" answer the question?
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Trivially. It doesn't tell me what I am missing.
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alexy wrote:

How about I got a Leigh jig for $100 out of the paper and haven't had the time or money to build a nice bench yet to do my planing, sawing, choping (chisels) with. So, for now I find the quick setup and ease of use on the jig a piece of cake. And those dovetails look sweet (using a Leigh with variable spaced dovetails does look 10x better than the standard 1/4" crapsman jig and various wannabes out there).
I've used it to dovetail boards as long as 5 feet (the jig went on cinder blocks on top of a table, that was fun :) I wouldn't have even wanted to try that by hand.
But having said that I still hope to build a nice work bench someday (I already have the vise hardware) and will be more than happy to do handcut dovetails. Will I sell my jig? Probably not, it's too handy to get rid of and at $100 I'm not likely to see another deal like that again anytime soon.
Mike
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THAT certainly changes the equation!

I wasn't aware of that. That explains some of the appeal.

Thanks, Mike. I'm not convinced that I would use it instead of hand-cutting, but if I found a deal like you did, this sounds like it might be worth buying to keep on the shelf just in case.
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Alexy, Hand cutting dovetails is fun, and I do it on a few of my pieces. If I hadn't watched Roy Underhill do it a bunch of times, I wouldn't have had a clue. I can see that if I did it every day, I could almost get up to production speed. However, I don't have enough comissions that require them, and will probably never get up to speed. So I will continue to use the jig for production work, and do a few custom jobs along the way. I guess it is like hand planing boards, and hand cutting miter joints. robo hippy
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4ax.com:

A sense of control, predictability, repeatability, security.
On another thread, a poster indicated that one of the primary indicators, in his mind, of a 'professional' was the creation of a jig or pattern, such that one could prepare for, predict, and increase the likelihood of success with the final material.
Whether you agree with that sentiment or not, it explains some folks' viewpoint.
I have both an Akeda jig, and LN saws & chisels, BTW. The results are important, too, not only the path taken.
Patriarch
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That sounds like a pretty good indicator, and is why I think these jigs make a lot of sense for a professional. But I have never aspired to be a professional woodworker, nor to work like one.
From this discussion, what I see that what I was missing is that many woodworkers get a large measure of their pleasure from what they produce, while for me it is more the process. I'm about as unproductive a woodworker as they come (which is why SWMBO usually moans when I say "I will make that", wondering when she will finally get it).

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| >4ax.com: | > <SNIP> | From this discussion, what I see that what I was missing is that many | woodworkers get a large measure of their pleasure from what they | produce, while for me it is more the process. I'm about as | unproductive a woodworker as they come (which is why SWMBO usually | moans when I say "I will make that", wondering when she will finally | get it). |
I fully empathize with you. I have one who has yet to grasp the meaning of "a rainy day project". To date, I have most of the tools I feel are needful and a bunch of the "nice to have". My dovetails are done with either a saw or the router depending upon how ambitious I am on any given day.
I have a lovely pair of "double style" doors that took me 6 months to create (rainy days were hard to come by) and I have a room that has been waiting for a year to receive raised panel wainscots.
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wrote in news:8j29915dmv7uqq4du37s5ivlnr7f7lalig@

such
success
I have yet to use a jig ,but then I make many repros and as dovetails varied in sophisticationand angles doing them by hand allows more flexability . Of course the more you do by hand then better you get at it , for small amounts in the long run it is probably quicker to do them by hand that spend the time it takes to set up a jig and to be honest for someone who loves woodworking there is more satisfaction .
AS far as how long it takes, you maght as well come up with your best estimate and at least double it .
I was following a car locally ,and as I got closer I noticed his bumper sticker which said .".The only perso that ever got everything done by Friday was Robinson Crusoe "
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I have the best saw, chisels and marking equipment and practiced, practiced, practiced, I have taken a couple of classes, watched Klaus's video and still cannot cut dovetails to my satisfaction. If I had handcut the dovetails for all the drawers I have built I would still be cutting them.
Ted
alexy wrote:

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Very serious answer. Some of us just don't have the skills to cut them by hand.
I'm glad you can, but please don't look down on us that cannot. I can't do brain surgery very well either. I'm very good at what I do in my business though, perhaps better than you would be.

I'm happy for you. Honest, I really am. l You posess a skil that I do not have.

You probably never will. You realy should have an open mind about these things. .

I hope you enjoy yourself. While you are practicing dovetails, I'll be playing at one of my other hobbies that I enjoy too. I'm good at many things, dovetails is just not one of them.
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Nor did I when I first started doing them. And I am not happy with the ones I cut for a box I made last week.

Two things: 1) I can't do them to the expert level. 2) I have no idea where you got the impression that I was looking down my nose at those who don't do them by hand. I'm sorry if I said something to give that impression.

I would hope so, unless we are in the same business.

Or to put a different spin on it, I have chosen to work at a skill that you have chosen not to work at. No value judgement there at all, just "different strokes" that I was trying to understand.

Huh?! Do you think I am asking for explanation of something I don't understand because I have a closed mind? Think that one through!

I bet you would be if you chose to be. But nothing wrong with not making that choice, and this discussion is helping me to understand those who choose not to spend time developing that skill.
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I can only answer for myself.
I just don't like fussing with time consuming little things that have to be done precisely; and so for the ocassional dovetail, I use a fixture. For me the fun is converting beautiful wood into even more beautiful furniture. Any aid I can get in making it better and quicker is great.
You enjoy the process, the craftsmanship; and that is certainly a valid POV. Maybe someday, after I have made enough furniture, I will chose to slow down and become more involved with the process; maybe not.
At the Niagara Glen (in Niagara Falls...) there is a climbing route called "Don't you know there are stairs over there?", about 50' from a lovely set of fully enclosed stairs going up the 60' or so to the top of the cliff.
Most people use the stairs because it is safe and fast; I like the climb. Neither approach is superior; they accomodate different needs.
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Thanks. That's a good perspective and analogy.
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I can't answer the question, but I can offer empathy.
I'm about where you are. I can to "pretty good" handcut DT's, and I prefer to do them that way. Just about anything that I make is by definition "one of a kind" and deserves that.
However, when I made built my kitchen cabinets, 15 drawers were not an option. Besides, sadly, kitchens are disposable. They will be remodeled in 20 years. I hope that my furniture lasts longer that a single human lifespan.
steve

infrequently.
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alexy wrote:

Because I want to make 4 drawers in an hour, not 2 weeks + the countless hours honing my skills.
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Where I work a couple of the folks I see as hobbiest woodworkers are "weekend warriors". I see the competition at work, in their kids in the families, everywhere. I attest a lot of it to the git-er-done phenomenon. They have "X" amount of time to work on a project in a weekend or whatever and they will do what it takes to complete a project in the time allocated. As one of the earlier posters suggested that for some it is the results and not the journey.he makes a good point. My goal is to get out of what I do for a living now and have a tidy little home shop business going in the next few years. I use fixtures for consistency. I am working out a few stock items that will be a repetitive sale delivering a consistent product. When I have the time I get out the marking gauges and work on those skills too.
There are so many aspects of your conversation that apply beyond dovetails that it in fact does appear you made a nice cast on this one....
Knothead
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nfrequently.
Because it is easier to cut a Blind DT with a router and jig than to cut them by hand.
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I have a dovetail jig that I used for a couple years. When I learned the skill of cutting dovetails by hand I no longer use the jig. I can even cut dovetails on a skewed corner where most jigs can't even touch. Two weeks of practice is all it takes. It takes awhile to properly setup a dovetail jig and by that time I can be a long way handcutting them, although a jig will be much faster if there are many to cut.
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