I own the D-4 jig and it is a wonderful tool. It does take a BIT of
learning to set it up (a lot of people seem to think you need a PhD to
understand the thing, which simply isn't true), but its versatility is well
worth the initial learning time. I was making perfect through dovetails in
about an hour or so after getting the jig clamped to my bench. I just
recently finished a dresser where I made 7 drawers with half-blind dovetails
with it, and again, it performed wonderfully. The small problems I had were
operator error/misjudgement, not the jig. Alignment of the parts and
initial accurate set-up of the jig are critical, but after that it really
does its job perfectly.
I have yet to try sliding dovetails with it, but plan to do this in the near
future and have no reason to believe the jig won't perform this function as
well as the other modes of operation. I can't really recommend this jig
As for price, I went with the combo deal at highland hardware which gives
you the jig and a 15 bit set (all the bits made by Leigh for the jig) for
$500. If you don't want to spend that much and/or don't think you'll need
all the bits, I think Lee Valley has the jig for a good price, but I cant'
say for sure where the lowest price is. IIRC, most places were within $10
of each other, and I don't think this sells on amazon.
So, that's my take.
I have both the D4 and the Incra dovetail system. I use both,
depending on the task. The Incra is (IMHO) faster to adjust (but
perhaps because I have a PRL with it) but I've gotten the D4 to do
many more types of cuts, including M&T (without the M&T jig!) and
sliding dovetails. Neither is that complicated to use, although that
assumes you do refer to the "quick reminder" sections of the books.
Also, I tend to choose the D4 when strength matters, as the Incra
cheats, resulting in less gluable surface area.
I own the Leight D4 and use it frequently, mostly to make drawers. It is a
fine, precision tool, particularly when batch cutting drawer parts for a run
of drawers. Repeatability is its forte.
If you don't make much furniture/boxes with dovetails, you may find it
pricey and underused. If you do, you will love it.
Finest documentation/manual in the business. Some say the learning curve is
steep, but I did not find that to be the case at all. Comes with a Video
that makes most use simple to understand. There is some complexity to its
use for some tasks, but the manual will walk you though it step by step if
you can remember from one use to the next.
You have to do most of the assembly, but this is a good thing, as it
familiarizes you with the jig as you do so.
I'd say it is recommended for those who do woodworking as a serious hobby or
I have 6 Leigh jigs here at the school and have shown 100's how to use
the jig. It is a wonderful machine, however one must read the owner's
manual. The best manual on the market. The jig is easy to learn how
to use and the process is very straight forward. No one really
discounts the Leigh Jig very much. Buy one from your local dealer and
help support your local economy. WoodCraft usually has a fair price.
I use the PC 691 D-handle router on the jig. I like the 8mm shaft
bits that Leigh sells.
Mike from American Sycamore
Have used the D4 for over a year now. Would not trade it for anything.
If you watch the video and follow the step by step instructions in the
manual setup and operation is not that difficult. Think Lee Valley had the
best price at the time I purchased mine. One suggestion is to get 8MM bits
to use with this jig. Makes a HUGE difference in the quality of the joint.
I use mine all the time. Absolutely love it. I used to use the Jointech for
dovetails but find the Leigh quicker and easier.
As pointed out, it does take a little to learn, but is well worth the
A few pointers if you get one:
Make sure your stock is perfectly square and measure precisely (guess you
should do that for anything though). Being off by as little as 1/64" will
glare on some joints (like double through dovetails).
For through dovetails I route the tail cuts with a straight bit before using
the dovetail on them. Since most cuts use a 1/4" shank bit I've had a
problem with chatter. Routing with a straight bit first makes for a cleaner
cut. Or you could get the 8mm bits and adapter - that'll probably be my next
If you do many through dovetails it's also nice to have 2 smaller (<3hp)
fixed base routers. Otherwise you'll be changing bits all the time - tail
cuts use a dovetail bit and pin cuts use a straight bit.
Buy good quality guide bushings - I've had several of the cheaper bushings
that weren't centered.
Just bought the D4 last week 299GBP including cutters + tax + carriage, not
that it's much use if you're in the States.
As for the jig, it looks pretty daunting at first, but it soon falls into
place. I have to say that the manual and the instructional video which
comes with it are probably the best I've ever seen on any tool. If you
follow the manual step-by step through the practice exercises, it pays real
dividends. This is certainly not a tool where you can easily suss it out
and wing it. RTFM!
HTH in your decision.
I have to agree with Mike and Swingman. The D4 is a fine tool and I would
buy it again. I bought mine about 7 years ago and sometimes it sits for
quite a while. But after about 15 minutes of review in the very well written
manual, I'm off and running again, making perfect dovetails. I tried the
sliding dovetails a couple of times and it works just as well as the others.
I hope this helps.
I just bought the Leigh jig and love it. It is not hard to setup and will
produce perfect dovetails. The manual is first rate and easy to understand
and the video is a great help.
R & B ENTERPRISES
"Don't take this life too seriously.......nobody
gets out alive" (Unknown)
Remove "no" to reply
Here's my review from last year:
I will add that I have just bought the Lee Valley dovetail bit set for
this jig, but have yet to use it. Now I can make something like 3 or
4 different sized dovetails.
I've had the D4 for more than 2 years and added the MMT and box joint
templates. I've joined boards as wide as 22 inches with dovetails in
I built 40 boxes as gifts for christmas
The only problem I've ever had was when I started out with a crappy
router and a saw that took for ever to make square cuts (ever try to to
make perfectly square and equal cuts with a circular saw?)
Ed Angell wrote:
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