REVIEW: Delta 34-184 Tenoning Jig

Greetings,
Having found the recent Amazon discount price on the Delta 34-184 Tenoning Jig too attractive to pass up, I ordered one along with a OSHA safety harness and a Forrest WoodWorker II 40T blade.
I generally build my own jigs, but felt the heavy construction and heavy speed clamp would be an advantage over a homemade MDF tenon jig.
The unit is, of course, made in China - as is most everything made from cast iron these days. The castings are a bit rough, with the occasional surface void in the more difficult to pour positions. The unit is quite heavy, which is a plus in use.
Removing the cosmolene with mineral spirits took about 15 minutes, and assembly is fairly straightforward. However, upon mounting the jig to the tablesaw, I found that it rocked on it's baseplate severely. Subsequent checks with a straightedge and feeler gauges and depth micrometer showed that the base is poorly milled, and is out by .028" diagonally, and over .010" laterally. This contributes to a total lack of stability which makes the prospects of milling a tenon with truly vertical and parallel sides nearly impossible. Of course, this can be dealt with, by lapping the plate extensively on a granite slab or plate glass on MDF with sheet abrasives. This is being done presently. The base is not solid on the bottom, but is full of ribs and cavities that while making the lapping job easier, also makes it easier to trap crud underneath and catch on the table and insert edge.
As with so many contemporary Chinese Delta products, this is more like a Tenon Jig Kit, than a final, ready to use product. All the bits and pieces are there, but they need fettling to be truly useful.
The jig has a linear measuring scale for adjustment, but it is difficult to read - a chrome plated steel rod with engraved numbers and markers. I filled the engraved markings with paint to make them more legible. It is difficult to find a paint color that really stands out against the chrome surface, however, I doubt the scale is really all that useful either way. The scale pointer is adjustable, and the scale reads from 0 to 3 inches.
You may angle the rear stock support to cut angled tenons, but there is no scale. There IS a 90 degree adjustable stop, however. It tilts from 90 to 43 degrees as supplied. The milling of the slot that clamps the support is not flat, so that the ratchet-head clamp lever that locks it into place requires re-positioning to lock the backstop into various positions. I will be milling the slot to an even thickness to alleviate this aggravation.
The chrome plated speed crank used for clamping the stock to the jig is one of the finer points of this contraption. It has a large foot and is counterbalanced, so that even though the handle is large, it can be spun around to speed the clamping process. I would advise lubricating the inside of the cap to screw-shaft junction and the threads with graphite, moly, or even paraffin to ease wear on this item and make it easier to spin down.
The meat of the stock support is provided by a cast iron side support, which is milled sufficiently flat and is of a hearty thickness. It, too, will angle back from 90 to 74 degrees so that angled tenons may be cut. There is an adjustable 90 degree stop and an adjustable limiter to prohibit the jig from contacting the saw blade. The movement of this support to provide varying tenon widths is fairly smooth, and there is a micrometer adjustment based upon a 3/8-16 threaded rod. Each turn of the knob results in 1/16" of movement. There is a release button that instantly releases the rod for rapid adjustment of position. There is a large clamp knob which firmly locks the platform into position.
Both the side and back support are drilled for sacrificial MDF or wooden faces.
There is NO provision for adjusting the jig's stock support parallel to the saw blade and this particular jig is off about 3 degrees. This results in slightly trapezoidal tenons. This could be corrected by either adjusting the position of the miter track in relation to the jig base, or by moving the sliding platform in relation to the base. I haven't decided which to do as of yet, but either method involves milling out the attachment holes for alignment. The threaded fasteners in oblong holes would then be the sole restriction against future alignment slippage.
The miter track measures .74" and has two captive T-track washers at each end. These are removable if your saw does not have T-track miter slots. These help keep the jig from rising off the table to dangerous levels, but does not keeps it completely pinned down, so that downward hand pressure is needed to ensure completely consistent depths of cut on large or tough to cut stock. The miter track also has 3 threaded allen screws that may be adjusted to remove any slop in various table saw slots. They are steel and seem to be a bit hard on the miter slot edges, so I may opt for aftermarket replacement cool-block or phenolic type adjusters. (See Highland Hardware.)
There are two large hollow plastic handles used to push the jig through the saw, but these have lose top caps which move under hand pressure. Either gluing them into place or coating the entire handle with a non-slip plastic dip may be preferable.
Overall, the jig has fine potential, and the basic materials would be hard to replicate at home, but I feel the price is a little high for a "kit" product manufactured overseas. It is definitely heavier duty than the competing Taiwanese products sold by several competitors. Quality control seems to be a real sore spot in Pentair's attempt to manufacture Delta and Porter Cable products in China, although I have several Taiwanese made Pentair products whose fit and finish are impeccable. I guess this is the result of 80 cent a day workers and prison sweat shop laborers.
I would balk at the $115 average price for this item, but the sale price of $89.99 plus free shipping and $25 off your order makes it more palatable. A little additional work will result in a far nicer tool - albeit a Chinese tool.
Happy Woodworking!
Greg G.
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Thank you; it's interesting to compare that with the "old style" I bought years ago, probably before China was around. The base was flat, and the face parallel to the blade. There were no loose caps or other issues. The scales were the same, but I really didn't expect that or care as they couldn't be accurate enough. IMO, it's always better to calibrate against an external standard when using (unless it's from Incra). In any case, I added a tall piece of melamine to the face for better support, and that negates that scale.
Since the move to China, those quality and flatness issues have gotten to the point where I'm glad I just moved next to a guy with a milling machine and metal lathe. Trying to lap .028 over that area takes awhile:-) You might want to consider a sander to take it part way.
GerryG
On Thu, 30 Sep 2004 02:53:35 -0400, Greg G. wrote:

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GerryG said:

I wish I had more "old" tools. I lost almost everything I owned in a fire in 1987. Hand planes, power tools, mechanics tools, etc. I'm having to replace the good old stuff with crap from China just to get back to where I was. I still have some electronic items that are 20 years old, because they just don't build them like that anymore. 500watt amps, Flying erase head editing VCRs, analog Dolby FM receivers. They may not have all the fancy remote functions, but the sound quality and quality of construction is far superior.

I have a Delta 6" joiner - 37-195 - and I waited a year to buy it because the fences were warping so bad on the earlier models they were unusable. It seems to be a problem with Pentair's products more than other companies, however. The quality of Chinese crap is improving, just as Taiwan's and Japan's did. It seems as though Pentair just hasn't kept up with progress...
As for the jig, I've already completed the job. Started with prussian blue and a nice, flat, sharp, OLD, US made machinists bastard file to take off the bulk, then polished it down with abrasives and a 1 RPM electric motor with an eccentric. It's a leftover from when I used to build 10,000 RPM Rotary Engines and would lap the side housings...
Greg G.
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<Greg G.> wrote in message

Boy howdy, is that true!
Background: among the many thing I "do" to make a living, educate my kids, and enjoy life, is that I have owned an operated a sucessful recording studio for over 20 years and during that time have recorded/engineered beaucoup albums/CD's, some for names you would recognize. I can truly,and humbly, say that I appreciate good sound when I hear it, and know what it takes to get it.
I recently visted a relative of my wife's in AR who has an old amplifier from the late 70's and a pair of Klipsch bookshelf speakers, of almost the same vintage, in his living room.
The point: I am sitting here with a quarter of a million dollar studio's worth of high tech, state-of-the-art-equipment, and I haven't heard anything _in years_ that sounded as good as it did in cousin Terry's living room.
..go figure!
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 7/10/04
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Swingman said:

Yea, we've really progressed from the "straight wire with gain" model of yesteryear. All this digital stuff, while having a phenomenally low noise floor, is so artificial and sterile sounding. Not to mention the inclusion of varying amounts of THD and IM from all the stages of processing involved.
I have two big rack mount amps I really like, one is a Yamaha Professional Amp (XLR) and the other a homebuilt Heath AA-1800 DC Servo amp. The Heath, which puts out almost 350x2 @ 8 ohms, weighs in at over 80 pounds, and that's with a wireframe chassis. I believe the Yamaha pumps about 250x2. Shoot, I even have an old Sansui G-8000 (125x2) I picked up for $5.00 at a yard sale and fixed that rocks the house... And they can do it all day.
I have some newer stuff, but it just doesn't sound the same...
One of those new 100x5 amps they sell at Circuit City wouldn't run an hour at those output levels without the magic smoke escaping...
Greg G.
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Greg, I purchased a tenoning jig from woodcraft that ,by all practical purposes, is the exact same jig as the Delta. I'm having a similar if not the exact problem. It wants to rock right to left. I've been bitterly trying to figure out what to do with it for about 2 months now. Great advice on the granite stone, I'll have to lap mine also.
Don Greg G. wrote in message

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sr_wood said:

I looked at a few of the other brands as well, and picked the Delta because of it's past reputation and heavier construction. And for some strange reason, I want them to stay in business.
I have already flattened the base, and made a few test tenons. Tweaked up and polished a bit, this jig works great. It's unfortunate that this tweaking process is becoming SOP for many products.
Greg G.
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Greg, G. wrote:

Sadly this is not an uncommon problem. A few years back I invested in an inexpensive granite surface plate and a lot of sandpaper of different grades. It seems like those are almost as necessary as a screwdriver in assembling modern tools.
--RC
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Unlucky.... I must have got my 34-184 from one of the better production runs. I have had it for about a year now and it was fine out of the box. Everything square, no rocking and good accurate results. Perhaps they have changed something in the production process since then :(
-- Regards,
Dean Bielanowski Editor, Online Tool Reviews http://www.onlinetoolreviews.com Over 50 woodworking product reviews online! ------------------------------------------------------------ Latest 6 Reviews: - Ryobi EMS1830SCL 12" SCMS - Bessey K-Body Clamps - Lumber Wizard Metal Detector - Pocket Hole Drilling Jig Project Book - Kreg Universal Bench Klamp - GRR-Ripper System & MJ Splitter ------------------------------------------------------------
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Woodcrafter said:

I have sometimes wondered if the stuff I get from ToolCrib/Amazon is truly up to spec. as compared to products available from a real woodworking tool dealer. I believe it's more a sign of the times, however. Look at the products at your average Target or WalMart - people of this era either just don't seem to care about quality, or don't have the experience or common sense to judge the differences. I have no doubt that manufacturers have gotten wind of this and cut corners where possible in order to exploit this.
Either way, after tweaking the unit, it does produce very nice tenons. I guess it's just my luck that almost everything I buy requires some amount of polishing to be a truly effective tool.
Notable exceptions would include the Bosch Jigsaw, Senco Brad Nailer, Whiteside router bits, and the Forrest Woodworker II saw blades.
Greg G.
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