Leigh D4R - bit the bullet

I finally bit the bullet and bought a D4R.
In the past, I've been hand-cutting dovetails for fine work, and using other joints, like lock miters and sliding dovetails cut on my router table, for cabinetry and built-ins.
Facing a set of 19 drawers that need to be DT'ed, I Googled up jigs. My searches narrowed things down to the Leigh, Akeda, and PC Omni-Jig. The Akeda apparently isn't in production, or at least nobody bothers to sell it, so it came down to the D4R and OmniJig. I was able to cop a feel of each tool at some local merchants, both are well-made high-end tools.
The two main negative perceptions uncovered in my research came down to the OmniJig's lack of flexibility, and the D4R's complexity. I went for the Leigh, figuring I can always eBay it if things don't work out. The jig arrived, and yesterday, I spent about 4 quality hours with it and a Bosch 1617.
Results? Perfect sample drawers on the first shot, and I haven't even seen the video yet! <G>
Observations:
- This thing has THE BEST manual I've ever seen. The spiral-bound D4R manual is more clearly written and easier to follow than anything I've ever seen, including some top-notch manuals for high-end sound gear and the pilot's operating handbooks for the spam cans I fly. The manual's photos and illustrations are very well done on durable stock, and the spiral binding won't close and lose your page. If the user follows the instructions in order, including the sub-sections on baseplate centering and routing technique, I can't see any reason a perfect joint won't result.
- The flexibility of this thing is superb. Sizing of parts based on tool limitation will not be required. Layout (except for the angle) is as flexible as it is with my bevel gage, I can simply put things where I want them, and do it.
- By following the manual steps in the order stated, I don't see typical setup taking any longer than cutting a "warm-up" set when hand working.
- I followed the Leigh recommendation of scribing the bottoms to prevent tearout, using a Veritas wheel cutting gage. This technique makes the machine made joint look even more like a well-cut hand made joint. I showed a set of hand cuts and a set of D4R cuts to (3) people, who could not tell the difference.
Today, we do the real parts...
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Enjoy the jig Barry. I have had mine for 6 or 7 years. The Akita came out after I bought my D4 however IMHO it had way too many loose pieces to have to set up and keep up with.
If you like box joints, the Leigh F1 template works great also and has the same great manual. It is quick and with an up spiral bit the joints come out perfect. After initial adjustments the F1 jig requires no set up time the next time you want to cut box joints. A big plus is that despite what Leigh says, you can indeed cut multiple sized box joints with 1, 1/4" straight bit rather than having to use larger bits for larger cuts.
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On Sun, 24 Sep 2006 13:47:40 GMT, "Leon"

Thanks! You've read my mind, as the F1 is next on my list.
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A question on the Leigh F1 making box joints. I had done some research earlier and it stated that the F1 could not cut large box joints such as 3/4". But after reading your post I did more research and yes you are right. Now, the question is how fast can the joints be cut compared to a table saw jig which in my opinion can have some eror if you are not watching closely. I have been thinking of a project that will need 200 + sets of joints and I want them accurate. I would like both speed and as accurate possible. I'm not asking much am I????? Thank you Terry
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How long does it tale to insert a piece in the jig and clamp it down? The template sets in one position to cut all your side pieces and then you slide the template a predetermined distance and lock it in with an indexing pin. Then you cut all of your front and back pieces. There is a bit if initial tweaking of the guide bushing to insure proper fit however that is a 1 time setting that you use over and over for each size pin. I mentioned that you could use a 1/4" bit for 1/4" and larger pins however if you want to make larger pins quickly you may want to consider the larger designated bit to speed the process of cutting between the fingers. The adjustable guide bushing determines the fit.
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B A R R Y wrote:

That's strange. I work at Woodcraft and we sell the Akeda (and the other two) on a regular basis.
--
It's turtles, all the way down

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On Sun, 24 Sep 2006 09:05:40 -0700, Larry Blanchard

Which Woodcraft?
As of my research last week, neither Woodcraft.com, nor my local store had it available.
I know that most Woodcraft stores are independently owned as my local store has lots of stuff not in the franchise catalog. Could your store be carrting it independently?
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http://www.woodcraft.com/family.aspx?familyidD06
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wrote:

It didn't come up at all last week. Trust me, I looked... <G>
Only Akeda accessories, and Whiteside bits for the Akeda, were shown on Woodcraft.com. After my local store told me they no longer carried it, I moved on.
I sure am happy with the D4R, though! I most likely still would have purchased it, even if the Akeda had been available.
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Depends on whether the dovetails are through or blind. I would much rather do 19 drawers with blind dovetails on the Omnijig.
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Maybe, but I want to do both, and there's always tradeoffs. You pay'z your money...
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