router dovetail jig


just purchased a router. are dovetail jigs worth the money? is any brand in particular better than the other, or can i just buy any jig off ebay? Thanks for any advice.
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Steve;     Are you a purist or just want to get the work done ? If you want to get the work done and do not want to do these by hand, then a dovetail jig is well worth the money. I tinkered with the bit depth and the jig setup over the last couple of years and I have it set now so that the joints are as perfect as I can get them. Of course I have a seperate router to do just this.
    I am sure you will get someone with the opposing opinion though and that is just fine with me. I would like, in the future to be able to make them by hand, but right now I do not have the time to teach myself. Maybe when I retire I will 'move up' to doing them by hand.
JAW
Steve wrote:

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Steve,
Router jigs are NOT all the same.
There's an excellent article in the Oct '02 Woodworker's Journal on the different types -- I'll summarize here:
2 basic types: half-blind and through-dovetail.
Half-blind (least $ - typically $50-100). Easy to use, not as easy to set up (complication stems from joint itself, not jigs). Half-blind means dovetail only visible from one side of joint. Template is 'familiar gizmo with a comb-like plastic template on top'. Very fussy accuracy required - 1/32" off can ruin joint fit. Fit adjustment determined by only 2 things: router bit-depth and fore-and-aft placement of jig - NOT adjusting jig itself. (ALL half-blind jigs, including the ones below that do both half-blind and through-dovetails have this issue; again, due to nature of the joint, not the jigs.)
Through-dovetail (more money - can run to $300+). Means you can see the dovetails from both front face and side face of joint.
Jig systems: most commonly heard about is Leigh-type. Other types include Keller Templates, Katie Jig (both "K" jigs do through-dovetails only, $150-300), and Porter-Cable's Omnijig. (Leigh & Omnijig can run $300+). I've also seen the master template system (I think about $50) to make your own custom templates for any project.
Keller: PROS: simplest, very straightforward. CONS: pain if you're not using default spacing.
Katie Jig: PROS: individually-adjustable forks for custom-spacing. CONS: 'fussy' to adjust & get forks square to joint.
Omnijig: PROS: 'industrial-strength brute', well-made. CONS: 60 lbs (!), can't alter pin size (just tails), extra-cost for through-dovetail option (!!)
Leigh: seems to be the sort-of 'default' type. Has sliding forks - one side cuts pins, other side cuts tails. PROS: excellent manual, very adjustable (see below for why this is key!), makes any kind of dovetail. CONS: price, basically. Author of the article clearly stated his preference for this one.
Now - a word about adjustability: if you can't adjust the spacing, you are stuck with either sides that are an even multiple of the dovetail width, OR having a partial tail (or pin) at the end or both ends of the joint. This means you MAY have kind of an ugly (imho) joint, with half-tails at each end, or even worse - an asymmetrical joint if the width is such that the partial tails would simply be too thin (then you end up with a full tail at one end, full tails all across, then one partial tail). Ick. -------------------------------- Final word -- I've seen that guy on the DIY network cut real nice dovetails, easy as you please, on a bandsaw with just an angle protractor. Sure, you have to clean 'em out with a chisel, but you can make 'em any width, they look great, and you save $300+ and a lot of annoying set-up. How often you cut dovetails will determine whether you really need a custom jig -- which I think is WAY more appropriate for production work of many of the same joint, over-and-over, than a piece-at-a-time that most of us do... ;-)
(Anyone wants a copy of the article, I could prob'ly scan it and send you a copy or something, but it's a lot of work, my day is busy, so you'd better REALLY need it and have something int'rsting to trade me... ;-)
On Tue, 13 Apr 2004 12:55:28 +0000, JAW wrote:

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<snip>
<snip>
Thanks 'Nobody' that was a useful analysis of the different types.
I learned to cut d'tails when I was a kid, but some years ago I tried a couple of the half-blind jigs and for my money they were more trouble than they were worth, and unless you like the machine like symetry look like s**t. IMHO, unless you are turning out this type of joint on at least a weekly basis, the money is much better spent on some decent chisels and a good saw and some time invested in learning to hand cut.
A lot depends on your approach to WW as a philosophy, a lot of people like to play with gadgets and are fascinated by the precision that modern technology can give, if that's your bag I'd look at a more general joint machine like the Woodrat before investing in a dedicated dovetailer.
Bernard R
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    How do you cut "any width" in a bandsaw? Aren't you limited by the throat width?
====Those are my principles. If you don't like them I have others. ===={remove curly brackets for email}
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On Tue, 13 Apr 2004 23:57:37 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@worldnet.att.net (Charles Bragg (no, dammit, not the painter)) wrote:

You're limited approx. to twice the throat width for width of panel but you can have variable spacing.
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Good posting. Thanks.
However, for completeness sake, you should also mention the Akeda jig (my favorite) -- www.akedajigs.com. It has superior dust collection and is cheaper than Leigh. You get 80% of the Leigh capability at 60% of the cost.
Also, many folks do dovetails with the Incra system (www.woodpeck.com and click on either "new router systems" or "router systems") or the JoinTech system (www.jointech.com). The advantage of those systems is they do so much more! They also cost more. I've heard that the dovetails are slightly less accurate with these systems but I'm not convinced. Perhaps some of you could comment on the relative accuracy..... say Leigh or Akeda versus Incra.
[snip]
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You can also use the Woodrat or littlerat for dovetails, too. (www.woodrat.com)
[snip]
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Wood Magazine had a special issue on jigs and one was making your own dovetail templates. Very simple to make. Haven't tried it yet but will before I shell out the kind of $$ they are asking for the jigs.
<DIV><FONT face=Arial size=2>just purchased a router.&nbsp; are dovetail jigs worth the money?&nbsp; is any brand in particular better than the other, or can i just buy any jig off ebay?&nbsp; Thanks for any advice.</FONT></DIV></BLOCKQUOTE></BODY></HTML>
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Steve wrote:

I would seriously consider an Incra Jig. I have used one for years now and am _very_ happy with it. It not only can cut dovetails of all the usual (and unusual!) varieties, but also box and other decorative joints. It also serves as a precision routing/cutting fence with just amazing repeatability. I got mine at a WWing show with all the accessories and doodahs...
http://woodpeck.com/wonderfenceultra.html
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Found a pretty good comparison of dovetail jigs...
http://www.woodshopdemos.com/dtshoot-1.htm
There's a summary at the very end of each....

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ah luv my keller jig ...
On 14 Apr 2004 11:06:31 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Never Enough Money) wrote:

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That is an excellent site.... Thanks.
JohnV

off
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I've had Leigh jig for about ten years. First time I tried it on plywood, it lead to my learning to hand cut dovetails. I guess I owe it something for that. Now I've learned that for many woods, backer boards are essential. Otherwise, I like the thing and it's versatile. No regrets.
rhg
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off
I have one of the woodstock int. $50 half blind jigs and once setup it works great. have made about 50 drawer boxes with it. the setup is not that hard, just a few scraps of wood the same thicknes and some trial and error.
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