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
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.