Dovetail Jigs: Drawers and Boxes.

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Time for me to buy a dovetail jig. Is it necessar to spend a bundle? I have a Porter-Cable 690 router. What are the options? It looks like Leigh D4R or D1600 are the current way to go. Expensive, good, but are they the best value? My first projects will be drawers and boxes. Thoughts from those who actually use this set up and or make machined/hand dovetails would be greatly appreciated.
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Alan Smithee wrote:

also pay a lot for the privilege of having the capability to do 16" or 24" joints. Do you really need that for drawers and such?
I'm very happy with my Porter-Cable 4210 (12" capacity), which can be found for a hundred bucks or so. Of course, if money was no object, I guess I'd go with the Leigh.
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Alan Smithee wrote: > Time for me to buy a dovetail jig. Is it necessar to spend a bundle? I have > a Porter-Cable 690 router.
I recently purchased a 12" JET from Amazon which was very cost effective when you factored in the discounts.
On the surface, it may look like a lot of other Far East knockoffs, but it is well made, relatively easy to set up, IF you keep your wits about you and follow the instruction manual.
I used it to make 34 dovetail joints which varied from 4" to 10" for a chest of drawers using a PC690 equipped with a 7/16" brass guide bushing and a 14 degree dovetail bit, both of which you will need to purchase separately.
If I had it to do over, I'd buy the JET again.
Have fun.
Lew
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Lew Hodgett wrote:

You forgot to tell him the JET only does half blind dovetails?
--
Sir Benjamin Middlethwaite




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Check out the latest issue of Fine Woodworking for their review.
cm

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I looking at it now....thx...

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Buy the Akeda Jig.
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Yeah it's a definite contender....but I'm Canadian so the Leigh might have the advantage...I like the thinking in the Akeda though...hmmm

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The Akeda is a very nice tool. There are some limitations, but these are things that should be overcome with a dovetail saw and chisels. The Akeda makes beautiful joints.
Patriarch
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Alan Smithee wrote:

I have the P-C jig and it works very well. I wanted to be able to do full dovetails, and some others only did the half blind ones. Set up wasn't bad, and once done, you can do a ton of dove tails for drawers in a short period of time. I question whether the extra money for the Leigh would be worth it. There is a tendency here to always go "Rolls-Royce" when a Corvette is all you need for some serious overkill.
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"rich" wrote in message

Let there be NO doubt that the Leigh is "worth it" if one is more serious about woodworking than the average weekend warrior, or if woodworking is a source of income.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 10/29/06
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I'm thinking the Leigh (or the Akeda) would pay for itself on the first freelance job...

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Alan Smithee wrote:

I have the leigh d4. To me, this definitly falls into the category of cry once. To me, the variable spacing is was sold me. The akeda wasn't out when I bought it.
The only thing the akeda has over the leigh is dust collection. You can get this router attachment from leigh that helps with the dust collection, but it's only a partial solution. I plan to experiment with a plexi box to see if I can improve the situation.
The d1600 would be an option only if you knew you would never want to do casework, i.e. drawers only. The project I'm working on now will use 22" long dovetails for the case. With the d1600, you also lose the ability to do variable thickness pins.
You also have the isoloc templates and the other attachments if you want to use those. I think they're overpriced so I'm waiting to get one on sale or something.
Another thing you may want to consider is the table saw. There was an article a few years back (FWW iirc) where this guy had a table saw blade reground so that the bevel on all the teeth went the same way at the dovetail angle. Then he would tilt the blade to the same angle. Then he could gang-cut all the drawers at the same time. He was left with a little waste that he cleaned out with a scroll saw. Pins were cut with a dado set. The advantage here is that you can make the pins as skinny as the saw blade thickness, whereas with a router, you're limited by the shank size on the router bit. I haven't experimented with this yet, but it's on the agenda.
brian
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Alan Smithee wrote:

I have the leigh d4. To me, this definitly falls into the category of cry once. To me, the variable spacing is was sold me. The akeda wasn't out when I bought it.
The only thing the akeda has over the leigh is dust collection. You can get this router attachment from leigh that helps with the dust collection, but it's only a partial solution. I plan to experiment with a plexi box to see if I can improve the situation.
The d1600 would be an option only if you knew you would never want to do casework, i.e. drawers only. The project I'm working on now will use 22" long dovetails for the case. With the d1600, you also lose the ability to do variable thickness pins.
You also have the isoloc templates and the other attachments if you want to use those. I think they're overpriced so I'm waiting to get one on sale or something.
Another thing you may want to consider is the table saw. There was an article a few years back (FWW iirc) where this guy had a table saw blade reground so that the bevel on all the teeth went the same way at the dovetail angle. Then he would tilt the blade to the same angle. Then he could gang-cut all the drawers at the same time. He was left with a little waste that he cleaned out with a scroll saw. Pins were cut with a dado set. The advantage here is that you can make the pins as skinny as the saw blade thickness, whereas with a router, you're limited by the shank size on the router bit. I haven't experimented with this yet, but it's on the ajenda.
brian
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I was fortunate enough to have been gifted an Akeda jig with all the goodies. I love it. Set up is VERY easy and I made perfect through dovetails on the first try. set up took a couple minutes. It took me more time to read the instructions than to make the joints. I'd recommend the jig to anyone. Cost like the leigh is high but well worth the money (if you have to pay for it) (sorry I had to gloat a bit).

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I bought a Leigh D4 about three years ago. It works great, and I'm glad I have it -- but, just the same, if I'm making only a single shallow drawer, I'll hand-cut the dovetails. In the time it takes to get the jig out, set it up, get the router adjusted, cut a couple of test pieces, test-fit them, tweak the router a bit, cut a couple more test pieces, and test-fit them -- I'm more than half-way done with the handcut joints. OTOH, for a single *deep* drawer, I'll turn to the Leigh jig every time.
And for anything approaching a production run -- like when I re-did my kitchen two years ago -- the Leigh is hard to beat. It's a pretty good-sized kitchen, with 21 drawers and 36 pull-out trays in the base cabinets (also dovetailed), and I'm *very* glad I didn't try to hand-cut all 228 dovetail joints!
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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I have a Porter Cable 4112 in new condition. Used once. $35.00 plus shipping and it's yours.

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Alan Smithee wrote:

I bought two sizes of dovetail finger plates and screwed it to two blocks wood like this... http://www.kellerdovetail.com/models/1601.html Made a clamping jig like this... http://www.kellerdovetail.com/models/clamp.html And screwed it to the side of my workbench.
--
Sir Benjamin Middlethwaite




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After many hints and open catalogs left lying in conspicuous places, my dear wife bought me a Leigh D1600 for fathers day. Even a butcher like me can make excellent joints with it. One of the magazines (Fine Woodworking) just did a product review in their last issue. The D4R and D1600 were rated "best overall", and the Porter-Cable 4212 captured "best value".
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Here's a bargain for you.
< http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page 494&filter=incra >
Seems too good to be true? It's not--it does everything they say and a good deal more for 60 bucks. It was a good deal at 200 bucks, for 60 it's amazing.
Major limitations are that it can't cut stock more than about 8 inches wide, at least not without doing some fiddling, that it's slower than the Leigh etc, that it requires a router table, and that you move the stock, not the router, which can be a problem with large boards.
To get a feel for what it can do try some of the projects in < http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page 98 >. You'll also want the full template library < http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page 496 >--I'm not clear on what Rockler's including in the box though so hold off on both until you see.
The 8 inch original model has some bigger brothers < http://www.incra.biz/Products/LSSuperSystem.html and one major competitor < http://www.jointech.com/woodworking1.htm .
Even if you end up going with the Leigh after trying the 60 buck Incra you'll find that it remains a useful tool. I have a larger Incra jig on my router table now and use the small one as a general purpose precision positioner--it's handy with the table saw and with the drill press, so that 60 bucks won't be wasted.
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