Question About Dovetail Jigs

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I've been researching dovetail jigs since I'm interested in joinery. What model jig would the group recommend? I've seen a lot of discussion on the web about the Leigh D24 (I think?) jig. How does this compare with the Porter Cable 24" Omnijig? Does anyone have any experience with the Porter Cable model? What about any experience with the Leigh model? Can anyone provide some information/advice on this topic?
Is it really a good idea to spend that much money to make dovetail joints? One of my projects in the future, 1 to 2 years away, is to redo my kitchen and make all of the cabinets and drawers myself.
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I have owned 2 DT jigs. An OLD Sears model that worked quite well with normal PC guide bushings and I have owned a Leigh Jig for about 6 years.
If you just want to make simple Blind Dove Tails, you do not need a Leigh Jig.
HOWEVER, you will have to design your drawers and projects around the jigs capabilities in that you cannot adjust the finger spacing on the cheap DT jigs. You will otherwise probably end up with a portion of a pin or tail on the top or bottom of the joint.
With the Leigh DT jig, your finger spacing configurations are limitless and you can design the drawer to fit the hole. rather than the hole to fit the drawer. There are several other jigs that can be used with the Leigh jig. The F1 box joint jig is excellent.

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I recently bought, then sold, the 16" PC OmniJig. It is very well made, with a heavy cast aluminum base. The clamps use heavy steel cams that span the entire width of the jig. However, I sold it because: 1) I immediately wished I'd spent the extra $50 to get the 24" model, and 2) It requires a different template for each kind of joint, and the templates are not cheap (It comes with the half blind dovetail template - I purchased separately the 1/2" box joint template @ $80. 24" templates are undoubtedly more $). For the cost of the 24" OmniJig with a couple of templates, I figured I might as well just get the Leigh.
Jerry
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What is your opinion on the functionality of the Porter Cable Omnijig? I notice that the 24" model comes with both the half-blind and the through dovetail. Did you feel that the 16" model operated well?

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Yes, after considerable tweaking, it performed very well. But I believe all jigs of this type require tweaking and test cutting on scraps until you're satisfied with the results. I should have mentioned that the 16" (and *probably* the 24" too) also came with the collar and dovetail router bit.
Jerry
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The PC is an old style jig with better hold. It's great if you're going to use it for a joint only, rather than pretty, or a tour-de-force, where it would be better, to my way of thinking, to do by hand. You do have to cater to it for the half-pins.
For kitchen drawers, which normally have applied fronts, I'd use a drawer joint bit. If I was trying to show off, the Leigh. Makes a lot of little boxes with pretty through dovetails quickly, though, which is why I own one.

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Two questions:
1. What is an applied front? 2. What is a drawer joint bit? Where would I obtain such a router bit, and what brand would you recommend?

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A Decorative wood front that normally matches the wood work and attached to a drawer box. Draers built like this normally have 6 pieces of wood rather than 5 pieces of wood.

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The name describes its function. The joint does not lock vertically on a drawer joint. The joint adds strength to fight the tendency for the drawer front or back to pull away from the sides. Almost all bit mkers make this bit. CMT, Whiteside, Amana, Freud make good quality bits.
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wrote:

Any comments on using a router for this joint versus the TS for this joint?
(For anyone's info: As shown at http://www.kennedyhardware.com/plans.html - scroll down the page.)
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joint?
For built in cabinets I prefer to cut a rabbet on the ends of the sides glue them and brad nail them. Then, attach a front to match the rest of the cabinet doors. I cut the rabbets on the router table. For furniture I always use DT's or Box Joints.

http://www.kennedyhardware.com/plans.html -

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wrote:

Leon --
Whoops -- maybe I was not clear enough in my question (at least based on my understanding of your reply). I meant to ask about using a TS for the drawer joint (as shown at the link I gave), versus using a special router bit. That being said, if you're cutting rabbets with a router, I s'pose you wouldn't use a TS for a drawer/lock joint.
BTW, what size & type stock do you typically use on your built-ins (kitchens cabs?) for the drawer (to which you then apply the front)? Thanks. -- Igor
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No, I don't use a TS to cut rabbets for drawers. BUT back to your question of which I would use to make that lock miter joint, I would probably use the router table vs. the TS. It would probably be 6 of one and a half dozen of the other if considering set up time or ease of operation when considering which tool to use. I think ultimately the lock miter router bit would produce a smoother cut for this operation.

I prefer to use 1/2" Baltic Birch for the drawer sides, front and back. I attach the 3/4" thick fronts with a 1-1/8" Pocket hole "style" screw. I also try to use Accuride bottom center slides to save more space. Using this slide along with the 1/2" thick stock produces a clean and space saving drawer. When redoing a kitchen I also make the drawers go to the back of the cabinet vs. 3" to 5" shy of the cabinet back. I want the customers to get more room for their money.
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wrote:

Thanks. That is the info I was looking for. Also, as to the stock for the drawer sides, one reason I asked is that I was wondering if it was worth making the rabbets with 1/2" ply stock. Obviously, you think it is. Now that I think about it, I suppose, beyond strength concerns, the rabbets help keep the front piece of the drawer box vertical and flush with the sides' front edges. Thanks. -- Igor
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the
There you go Igor. The rabbets help hold every thing square during glue and nail up and also provide a stop to limit how far the backs and fronts move when indexing against the sides. The 1/2" Baltic is plenty strong and the surface is quite consistent.
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As a P.S. here, I cut the rabbets on the sides about 3/16" deep and or about 1/3 the thickness of the wood.
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wrote in message

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Over on alt.binaries.pictures.woodworking with title _Goodwill Desk Rehab_ I have links to some pictures of a desk I'm working on. The drawer DT's were cut with a Hart Design(very much like PC 12"). The sides and backs are 5/8 in scrap and the rabbeted fronts are about .9 in. FWIW I'm very reluctant to crosspost to both here and a.b.p.w because last time I did that I managed to send a whole flock of identical posts...
Larry
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Doesen't using 3/4" material for a front on top of 1/2" invade on the space of the drawer? Keep in mind that I have never built a full set of cupboards, only drawers for furniture but it would seem that using a TS to do a locking rabbit joint would eliminate the need for the 1/2 in the front by doing it with the 3/4 material. I've seen that you can even do it with the front rabbited for an overlap look but must admit that I've never been able to master that - I reach for the DT jig.
Don

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space
No, because 98% of the cabinets that I build have the door outside the face frame. The drawers fronts are also outside the face frames. The 1/2" thick drawer box front does not go past the back side of hte 3/4" thick face frame.

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That is correct. However this is much slower to do and if you are doing this for a living it cuts into the profit so to speak. Don't get me wrong here though. If my drawer ever comes apart I fix it no questions asked. I did my kitchen this way in 1990 and the drawers hare holding up just fine. Occassionally I use my kitchen to show a client and they want their drawers done this way also. Most factory prefab cabinets that most builders use these days simply do not hold up. Aslo, and this does happen, if the customer decides to change the style of the kitchen doors and drawers, I do no have to charge for rebuilding the drawers again.

Are you talking about inset Dove Tails, Dove Tails that are not flush with the drawer front? I can post a pic of a night end table with that joint if you like.
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thick
I think I understand what you are saying - the back of the drawer front is completely flush with the face frame on cabinets - therefore, the real 1/2" drawer front is flush with front of the cabinets minus the face frame.

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That makes sense - never thought of that. How do you attach the false front to the 1/2" front so securly to hold up over 15 years?

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Yes, that's what I'm talking about - sure, I'd like to see the pic. BTW - when I see your name on a post, I generally open it because you're a great resource of info here - thanks for that.
Don
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1/2"
Yes. The drawer storage area extends into the back of the face frame 1/4".

front
I use a minimum of 4, 1-1/8" long pocket hole STYLE screws from the inside of the drawer into the back of the decorative drawer front. Easier said that done. In real life aligning the face and attaching is difficult unless you know the trick. Typically you want to attach the drawer front to line up with a cabinet door below it. To do this the drawer must be closed so that you can use a straight edge along side the lower cabinet door to align the drawer front from side to side. I place a block of wood behind the drawer so that the front of the drawer box remains flush with the face frame and not push back farther into cabinet. I put in the 4 screws from the inside of the drawer box until the points of the screws just come through the front side of the drawer box. I then align the decorative drawer front and press it firmly against the drawer box and the 4 screw points. This gives me indexing locations so that I know where to mount the decorative drawer front with the drawer open. I open the drawer and realign the decorative drawer front with the screw points and drive the screws all the way into the decorative front. I prefer to use self tapping screws with larger washer heads similar to pocket hole screws.

Thank you Don. I posted a picture of a walnut night stand with the inset, rabbeted dovetails on a.b.p.w.

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