need info on a dovetail jig..

SWMBO asked me to use all those tools in the shop to make her something. She has a inkling for a chest for the foot of the bed. I told her I would need a dovetail jig for that, and she said go find one...
So, can anyone provide their wealth of experience in selecting and buying a dovetail jig? How much for a decent one? How big should one buy for an average need? What should I look for in one?
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On Sun, 16 Dec 2007 19:27:25 -0600, mapdude

Howdy,
I may not be current, but...
When I got mine, a company called Leigh had the quality market almost to itself.
Check http://www.leighjigs.com/home.php to learn more about their stuff.
High quality, high prices (Hey, why do those seem to go together?)
In terms of "what to look for":
As you may well know, there are a variety of dovetail joints that can be machine cut. The more sophisticated jugs can make many of these, while the simpler jigs can do fewer. That may, or may not, matter to you.
Similarly with issues of setup:
Some (like the Leigh stuff) are very easy to set up and can allow great variety of pin and tail sizes. In essence, you can design anything you might want.
With other (simpler) jigs, you may be restricted to a single pattern of pins and tails.
And finally, with regard to size, it simply depends on what you are likely to build. For a big chest, you would be happier with a big jig. If, on the other hand, you were making small boxes, for jewelry or such, a small jig would do the deed, and would be somewhat less costly.
Have fun with it!
--
Kenneth

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It sounds like you ought to design the chest first, THEN you'll have the requirements for the jig...
A smallish, fixed-width, half-blind jig runs about 120.00 USD. If you really want, I'm pretty sure you can spend over a thousand. I'd design the piece, then look for something to fit the requirements.
Jeff
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If you have access to FineWoodworking online they reviewed several DT jigs in 2006 (http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworking/ToolGuide/ToolGuidePDF.aspx?id '140)
They gave the Leigh D4R (the one I own) their "Best Overall" award.
It is among the more expensive jigs, but the jig is extremely versatile. Unlimited finger spacing. Give it serious consideration.
--
www.garagewoodworks.com



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"mapdude" wrote... [...]

I've had an Incra Jig Ultra for 10+ years, and have been pretty happy with it. Some features:
-Well made in the USA
-fairly complicated to set up
-makes a lot of different dovetail and box joints, including fancy "double dovetails"
-excellent customer service - replacement parts have been fast & NC
HTH
-- Timothy Juvenal www.tjwoodworking.com
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You will get a lot of suggestions. Keep in mind that a jig with adjustable fingers will allow you to adjust spacing to suite the project. A jig with fixed fingers will require you to design the project around the jigs limitations.
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How often do plan on making dovetail joints? There are cheap jigs (MLCS about $50.00) and the others that can hit $500.00 or more. That's quite a price range. Cheap ones are fixed spacing and the more expensive ones will allow variable spacing etc. I use the cheap ones (MLCS for through dovetails and a PC knockoff for half-blinds) if I need variable spacing I usually chop them, but have used the MLCS jig at times if they were through dovetails. Any jig you use or buy will require a bit of practice.
Hank
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There are two basic methods of machining dovetails with a router. A router table based system like the Incra and JoinTech which have precision positioning fences and paper templates for different dovetail sizes and spacing, along with templates for finger joints.
A router table with a good fence opens up a lot of other possibliities beyound dovetails and finger joints, but have a learning curve. Theu also require that the parts with the tails be cut with the stock standing on end. Not a problem with jewelry box making or drawer making - tricky with longer boards
The other method uses jigs with "fingers" to guide the router bit, the "fingers" being fixed in the less expensive jigs and user positionable on the more expensive jigs. The user positionable jigs let you adapt the jig to your stock width, the others have you adapt your stock to the jig.
With jigs, it's really, really, really important that the bit remain VERTICAL. ANY tilt while cutting the sockets of the dovetail joint WILL cause you grief. That can be a problem with the old (as opposed to the recently released "new" Leigh DT jigs since the weight of the router, and any downward pressure you apply, is supported only by the "fingers". There is a "dust collector" accessory that adds support to the font of the jig - but it's an additional cost.
And there's "the rub" with dovetail jigs - it's not the initial "standard unit" cost, but the total cost when you add the "accessories" - additional special router bits, additional sets of fingers, dust collector etc. That can increase the actual cost by 50% - or more. Then there's the "Where the hell do I put it - AND - all it's "accessories" when I'm not using it?".
I've got, and use, both the JoinTech Cabinet Maker "system" as well as the AKEDA dovetail jig (the 16" not the new 24") The AKEDA uses a unique finger positioning method that uses "click in and they lock in" finger positioning in 1/8" increments - no screws to work lose, no misalignment. AKEDA has an "upgrade package" that allows 16" owners to make their jigs into the new 24".
Consider the Akeda
charlie b
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I got one of these last year and it works well. I was able to make a dovetailed box with tight joints on the first try. http://www.coastaltool.com/cgi-bin/welcome.pl?ref=froogle+page=/a/port/4212.htm
I saw a video once that showed how to use the finger plate screwed to a piece of wood to do wide pieces but I can't find the video or instructions.
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If I were to buy a jig for a blanket chest I would not buy a 12" jig as mentioned above.I own a jig and a joint tech system on router table but decided to make a blanket chest with hand cut dovetails and will never use my jig after that experience.Plenty of info on the web on how to go about handcutting dovetails.Test your skills on a scrap piece and if you like it purchase a western or japanese saw and chisel and some use a coping saw.Part a the fun of woodworking is to challege ourselves and learn new skills in the process.
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henry wrote:

http://web.hypersurf.com/~charlie2/DovetailDrawer/DovetailDrawer0.html
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<SNIP>

You should mail your jig to the OP. Have him pay shipping. Everyone is happy!
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You should buy one that is wide enough to handle the stock. Jim
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Which, of course, is why I think he should design the chest before he purchases a jig to build it. It's one of those chicken and an egg things I keep hearing about...
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Two observations: I've seen a lot of dovetail jigs in used-wares shops, because the owner didn't like 'em. And Frank Klausz has a video out, "Dovetail a drawer" that makes hand-dovetails look easy.
If you have a small back saw, a mallet and some chisels, you can do it by hand. Practice on scraps, of course.
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