Ready to buy Leigh, Akeda or Omnijig

Page 1 of 2  
Howdy folks,
Ready to plunge on a dovetail jig and going shopping on Saturday. My gut decided Leigh D4R but I seriously looked at the Akeda 24" and Omnijig. My need: Primarily through dovetails but I can envision a fair amount of half blinds on drawers as well. Thoughts on each...
Leigh: Undisputed king of the jigs, still top of my list. Wouldn't mind the Super jig but spending this kind of money I am thinking go for the additional adjustment of the D4R. Either would include the VRS. I am a bit concerned about tearout but others don't seem like they would be any better.
Akeda: Reviews look good, I like the clean package, concerned they list only two distributors in the US. Also, has variable spacing but I am unsure if it allows variable sized pins and tails (like Leigh & Omnijig's two part fingers). Videos at their website leave a bit to be desired.
Omnijig: "Looks" like a very good copy of Leigh technology with several more pluses. Concerned though about PC quality, availability, and getting nickel and dimed with accessories.
Any Akeda or Omni users out there that could talk me out of the Leigh?
Daryl
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

If you read the very good manual that comes with the Leigh it addresses the best plan of action to minimize tear out. Basically there is a side and direction to go when exiting the back and front side of the cut. Following theinstructions and thinking about the direction that the bit spins will help you visualize and remember how to cut through the back side of the board. Concerning blind DT joints, every bit has a sweet spot depth setting, it typically is not an exact measured depth of cut so much as a depth that deliveres the desired results. Practice on scraps to determine every bit's ideal depth setting. theis is pretty much true with any DT jig. Remember, you use the same depth setting for cutting the tails and pins, you do not make depth adjustments mid stream. Start with ALL new scraps with each depth adjustment. Cutting depth on both sides of the joint have to be "exactly" equal.

I have had my Leigh for longer than the Akeda has been available and so far see no reason to change. The #1 think that I don't care for on the Akeda is all the loose parts.

These things are H U G E, take up a lot of room. There have probably been more complaints on this news group about the jig than complements. apparently some kits come with the wrong sized bits.
Basically the Leigh is a prooven performer and all the others are trying to catch up. The more expensive Leigh with infinitely adjustable fingers IMHO is the only way to go. You can buy any brand jig and get equal spacing.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

My Leigh Super is for sale, I upgraded to the Akeda. I had two problems with the Leigh.
1) The guide fingers never wanted to get perfectly level. I followed the directions for how you're supposed to put pressure when you're locking down and they'd be all over the place when I put a straight edge across it.
2) When flipping the guides around to do the other side it would often shift slightly on me. I could never figure out where it was coming from because it didn't happen all the time, and if I loosened it and tried to put pressure to get it over where it ought to be it would always end up right back where it was. So I would have to move the stop - which is NOT something that is fun to do, as when the stock is locked in place you can't move them.
I hope the D4R is better, and as people swear by em it must be.

If you do any work with thinner stock the ability to change the dovetail angle is fantastic. 8 degrees doesn't look right on anything less than 1/2".
You can change the pin size, but you will have to go through a complicated and time consuming process of only routing on one side of the guides and then shifting them for a second pass. You can do lots of funky stuff like mixing different dovetail angles in the same joint if you are willing to put in the time to think it through and go through multiple passes. But if you want to zip through you have to keep the pins the same size.
I really like the fact that I can just pop in the guides at any time to perfectly duplicate any previous setup. If you screw up one side of something you can just replace what you wrecked, which you just can't do on the Leigh. I have multiple small production runs of different sizes to do, and setup is WAY faster on the Akeda once you have the layout worked out. With the Leigh you have to fuss around with it every time.
The clamp rail on the Akeda always stays parallel with one hand adjustment, so it is easier to switch different board thicknesses. I often have the drawer sides thicker than the front and back for my jewelry box drawers, so that is handy. However I find the cam locks on the Leigh easier to deal with than the knob when you are zipping through multiple pieces.
During setup I like that it's easy to just take the VRS right off and you have unhindered access to see if you have the bit set right. On the Akeda you pretty much have to pull out the window on the front and shine a light straight in there to be able to see anything.
I would say if the variable pin size is a deal breaker for you, get the Leigh. Otherwise they have their pros and cons, for what I do the Akeda is great.
-Kevin
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I am an Akeda BC24 owner. And a very happy one I may add.
You can see my comments here, http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=98823&highlight=dovetail
For what I do, it is the only one for me. Just one persons opinion.
Jim
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 13 Jan 2009 11:37:28 -0800 (PST), blackemmons

Yes, I talked with another sawmill creek'er, and this gal also had good things to say about the Akeda. Sounded impressive to me.
As for me I took the road less traveled .... The Chestmate (for through dovetails) =0 ) but it does work as you can see here ... http://picasaweb.google.com/toolmanlh/Toolbox #
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Jan 13, 4:30pm, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Wow... nicely done! I like the box, but it should be noted how nice and crisp the dovetails are in the (white?) oak.
Good job.
Robert
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I have the Leigh and an Omnijig. The Leigh can be adjusted to do anything you want it to, and the Omni is good at doing the same (one) thing over and over. I use the Omni for drawer boxes, and the Leigh for everything else. If you're going to do the same thing all the time, get the Omni. Otherwise, get the Leigh (or Akeda, but I have no experience with Akeda).
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
All you should ever need to know from a really unbiased, no bullshit review:
<http://web.hypersurf.com/~charlie2/AKEDAdtJig/AKEDAdovetailJig1.html
same link if the wrap scrogs:
http://tinyurl.com/7gjfey
If he sounds a bit giddy, that's unusual. He just really likes this machine. He has turned an uncompromising eye on other products, and he is not always too nice when reviewing.
Check it out, you will get the best review of the Akeda you will find anywhere.
Robert
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I have a Leigh and really like it. However, it's complicated enough, and I don't use it frequently enough, that I have to reread parts of the manual every time I use it. One thing that helps is to slap a piece of tape on every piece, describing the orientation, the type of cut, and which end of the jig the piece should go on. Once I get it all organized, though, it goes fine. And I handle tearout by ripping slim sacrificial pieces on the table saw and backing up the piece I'm cutting. That takes care of tearout on the back side, and on the front side you can sneak up on it and then do a delicate finish cut to get the troublesome side to come out sharp. Dust extraction helps a lot to allow you to see what's going on (Leigh offers an accessory). If you use it enough to justify the expense, separate routers for the straight bit and the dovetail bit are ideal, and I'm a big fan of the D-handled router bases like the ones that Porter Cable offers for some of their routers.
One thing that's not stressed enough when people talk about using dovetail jigs is how much it helps to hog out the waste by other means before you start cutting wood with the router. Sometimes I'll take a piece to the bandsaw and rough out the cut to remove waste. Other times I'll take a straight bit and clear out the middle of the area that the dovetail bit will finish out. The more contemplative types might use a coping saw. A lot of people don't know that it's the chips that carry the heat away from the bit, and if you drive it right into hard wood the bits tend to burn or dull quickly because the router's cutting wood in a confined space and the heat can't escape as easily. So make it easy for the router bits and the wood will appreciate it.
Tom Dacon
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 13 Jan 2009 20:57:38 -0800, "Tom Dacon"

Your absolutely right Tom. That's just what I did with my Chestmate jig. Much easier to hog the waste out on the bandsaw. Makes it easier on the tools and me.
Lenny
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I'm curious how you know where to remove the waste before using the jig. I have Leigh D4- do you have to set the piece in the jig first, mark the areas to be cut by tracing the template fingers, or what? You'd have to make an allowance for the guide bushing, so how do you know where to cut on the bandsaw???
Cheers

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I'm curious how you know where to remove the waste before using the jig. I have Leigh D4- do you have to set the piece in the jig first, mark the areas to be cut by tracing the template fingers, or what? You'd have to make an allowance for the guide bushing, so how do you know where to cut on the bandsaw???
Cheers
Yes, place the wood in the jig first and then remove the waste with a straight bit. Then put the DT bit in and clean up the cuts. Personally I never cut the excess out to begin with, I take it all out with the DT bit. If done properly you don't have problems. IIRC Leigh recommends to make a shallow pass on the front side from right to left to begin the cut and minimize tear out on the front side and then left to right in 3 or 4 light passes until you reach the back of the cut. At the back side of the cut and before the bit breaks out of the back side the bit should exit on the right back side and reenter on the back left side to minimize tear out on the back side.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 13 Jan 2009 05:43:03 -0800 (PST), " snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com"

Before buying new, checkout Craigslist for used. There's an OMNIJig forsale in the Charlotte area for asking price $275.
Otoe
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

charlieb where are you on this one. You are one of the main reasons I own the Akeda.
Like Robert said, read the reviews. I called Kevan at Akeda and asked him about charlib's review. He said he doesn't know him. He has tried to contact him but he would not return his e-mails. Sounds like an independent review to me.
Here is a video of the Akeda in case you haven't seen it,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfcDus-l-pU

He is a review from a guy how does a lot of reviews also, http://www.woodshopdemos.com/aked-1.htm
Keep in mind, these reviews are for the BC16 but from my experience, everything applies to the BC24.
I also like the short learning curve because it is something I do not use everyday. My first dovetails were completed and hour after I opened the box and that includes mounting on the base..........and they were tight and perfect. One thing I didn't have was the mess on me and the floor. All of the dust and chips were in the DC.
It may not be for everyone, but since I started using the Akeda, my frustration with making dovetails from a jig is gone.
Jim
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Here is the link to charlib's review(and others) http://www.akeda.com/reviews.web.html
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

Here is the link to charlib's review(and others) http://www.akeda.com/reviews.web.html
========I'd been biting my tongue since this thread started, but $500 is a big heap of spare change. I use a $20 Bear Saw ryoba and a $12 Buck chisel, both of them 10 years old and otherwise under used. It took a couple of weeks of evenings and a few bft of #2 common to begin to get them to fit reliably. But I undertook this as a journey, not as a hurried destination, as much for the joy of doing so as for a real need. Maybe you're in a different situation. The biggest and only trick is to saw reliably on a line, splitting the line (all 3 lines, actually. Everything else is easy once you can do that. If you haven't spent the money yet, you might consider that you're actually paying yourself $400+ in real money to learn to cut them by hand.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Why in the world would you feel like you needed to bite your tongue? The thread as started by the OP was specifically about three different jigs, asking only about dovetail jigs. Although he didn't ask about instruction on hand cut dovetails, it's all in the family in its own way, no?

Now you are to it. While your opinion is valued and appreciated, suppose that the OP tried hand cutting, and didn't think the results were worth the effort. Maybe he enjoys the other aspects of wood working more. IME, I bought a dovetail jig years ago simply because I was too embarrassed for my drawers to be assembled with rabbet cuts. Although none of them EVER fell apart, a dovetail is a better seller.
I am not at the point in my life where I will sit down and build a few drawers for a client (or for myself!) that requires a new skill set. I know they won't appreciate the extra work every time they open that bathroom vanity, and when I looked at the joints, all I would see would be bad. Besides, that extra time developing a new skill set may be going to making my own folding knives.
So to me, it kind of depends on where one is in the stream of things. One day, one day... I will have to take saw and chisel in hand and do it. Right now, I make dovetails so infrequently I have to reacquaint myself with the jig as it is.

Whoa... if I go to the shop tonight and get started, can I get the dough at the end of the week?
JUST KIDDING!!
Robert
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

Why in the world would you feel like you needed to bite your tongue? The thread as started by the OP was specifically about three different jigs, asking only about dovetail jigs. Although he didn't ask about instruction on hand cut dovetails, it's all in the family in its own way, no?
====Simply, I was there once myself, and expected that I was just wasting breath and bandwidth. Gagging on those price tags was more than I could stand, though.

Now you are to it. While your opinion is valued and appreciated, suppose that the OP tried hand cutting, and didn't think the results were worth the effort. Maybe he enjoys the other aspects of wood working more. IME, I bought a dovetail jig years ago simply because I was too embarrassed for my drawers to be assembled with rabbet cuts. Although none of them EVER fell apart, a dovetail is a better seller.
=======The first ones will always suck, as simple and basic as they seem after the fact. My premise, though, is that dovetails are simple and can be readily mastered. I really don't place much value in the handwork of itself. No one has to know I cut them by hand as much out of laziness as to snub my nose at the cliche. I'm just tired of tedious setups. It really is as much or more work to set up the jig and router to make a few drawers, than to mark and saw a few lines.
As to learning the skill... Seriously, two weeks of evenings and 6' of 4/4 hardwood, 2 or 3 inches at a time. I used #2 common cherry I had on hand. 1/2" is even easier, but maybe not as valuable
I set out initially looking just to pass the time. Along the way, I learned to use handsaws, and found myself liberated. It's all in the saw. If it starts bad, it'll never fit. A bandsaw comes closest, but it still can't easily cut pins. Think of a dozuki as an easily portable, infinitely flexible bandsaw, more than adequate for joinery. I even resaw small boards by hand sometimes, just because I can. So, it's really not the dovetails that I'm writing about. It's really about handsaws. Fast, easy dovetails were just a bonus, even if it started out as the idea. (How more basic can you get? ;)
But the point, after all that, is that hand cut dovetails are fast and easy, less work rather than more. Depends how many you're making, of course. For a coupla dozen dressers... I'd have to think about it. ;)

I am not at the point in my life where I will sit down and build a few drawers for a client (or for myself!) that requires a new skill set. I know they won't appreciate the extra work every time they open that bathroom vanity, and when I looked at the joints, all I would see would be bad. Besides, that extra time developing a new skill set may be going to making my own folding knives. ========I appreciate a good knife. That's why I buy them. ;) If it were a matter of learning to hammer forge my own Damascus, using the forge and other tools I already had on hand, I might consider it. The startup cost, fume extraction, ... Do you see? I had an el cheapo handsaw just lying around.

So to me, it kind of depends on where one is in the stream of things. One day, one day... I will have to take saw and chisel in hand and do it. Right now, I make dovetails so infrequently I have to reacquaint myself with the jig as it is. =======;)

Whoa... if I go to the shop tonight and get started, can I get the dough at the end of the week?
JUST KIDDING!! =========Of course you can. NO kidding!! Sell the jigs and the bits. ;) I think there might be one interested buyers within earshot. (For sure, I doubt I swayed them at all.)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Sure it can, on through dovetails. Make an auxiliary table at the dovetail angle. Cut one side of the pins. Rotate table. Cut other side.
I watched "Dovetail a Drawer" and I followed that, but using the bandsaw instead of hand saws. I did many drawers and boxes and a large chest that way, until I got to the point where I needed to do more production than I could maintain my sanity still doing it that way.
If I just have a single box or drawer to make, I still think it's easier to do it that way than get out the jig and set up the routers. And a certain satisfaction doing it that way too. A trained monkey could do it with the jig once it's setup, combined with the noisy router spinning bits of carbide at ungodly speeds a few inches from parts of my anatomy I'd like to keep intact, it's not really a fun exercise.
-Kevin
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

MikeWhy,
I really admire folks that can and do cut dovetails by hand. It's just not my thing.
I'm not a hand tool guy either. Some folks are and applaud their talents.
To me it boils down to what you like to do as a hobby. I ride a cruiser motorcycle, some folks like crotch rockets. When I was hunting I did it with a gun, some folks like bow and arrow. I play pedal steel guitar, some people can't stand it. I fish with a rod and reel, some folks use dynamite.
Again, I commend you on your ability to cut dovetails by hand.
Jim
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.