What size dovetail jig to buy?

Years ago I had a 12" Harbor Freight. It was horrible. Got rid of it and bought a 24" Omnijig. Marvelous machine, but it was so heavy and big that I rarely used it. My shop is very small, without a proper work bench, so the Omnijig just didn't fit. Ebayed it for more than I paid for it.
Now I am looking for a new jig. I am thinking of the new Leigh. Issue is 12" or 18". I am not sure I will ever need more than the 12", but it I do I will sure feel silly for not getting the 18".
So, my question is how often do you make dovetails that won't fit on the 12"?
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One of the big advantages to the wider 24 inch jig that has infinitely adjustable spacers is that if you happen to be building boxes that have through DT's and they will be setting next to each other it is important that the DT's match each other, from one box to the next. Because with adjustable spacers that afford that unique spacing of DT's, the front boards that show will tend to have irregular spaced DT's unless you set up a mirror image of those finger spacers on the opposite end of the jig. If you are cutting through DT's on a 8" tall box and only have a 12" jig you will have to make all right hand cuts first, set the jig back up and then make all the left hand cuts if you want the look to be symmetrical. Ideally the jig should be twice as long as the board is tall when cutting symmetrical through DT's
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I have had one time that I needed longer than 12". I use the porter cable 12 inch model and it has always been fine. Even for the one time I needed more that 12". I'll send a pic of the project that needed longer than 12 inches. In my case I did a little arithmetic for length of two pieces and then joined them with bisquits then used the through dovetails as normal. Worked great.
Thom

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Leon wrote:

He's looking at the new Leigh superjigs. All three sizes have adjustable spacing.
The Leigh D4R is the next level up, and also has adjustable pin size.
Chris
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Correct, and sorry, I was referring more to the 24" length making it easier to cut both ends of a board if the board is more than 1/2 the width of the jig.
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"Wade Lippman" wrote in message

Simply get the biggest one you can afford. You will almost certainly find that at some point a 12" will indeed be too small.
Doing casework on things like blanket/hope chests, or a dovetailed case for a big chest of drawers, can even quickly exceed an 18" capacity. My old D4 has a 24" capacity that has come in handy more times than you would have thought.
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wrote:

Your first mistake. You have to acquire large size tools in quantities that make it inevitable that you expand your shop. :~)
But I know what you mean about the Omnijig weight. I keep mine on a permanent base, hanging on the wall, and I'm afraid it might cave in the wall some day.

Twice so far, on the same project, box joints for a cradle and sliding tapered dovetails for the same cradle.
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Wade Lippman wrote:

Think dual setups.
You can save lots of time by being able to do left and right setups in one pop.
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YEAH! In on sentence you summed up my paragraph.
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Leon wrote:

The real time savings is not accidentally cutting two rights or lefts.
At least, that's I've heard... <G>
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On Fri, 07 Sep 2007 12:21:35 -0500, Leon wrote:

Agreed. But that implies some volume. If the OP is a hobbyist making a single drawer or two for a small project, it won't help much.
If the OP would tell us the kind of work he does, it would be easier to suggest a jig. In my case, I do so few dovetails that a simple fixed jig is all I need. If I need variable ones, I'll do them by hand+bandsaw.
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On Fri, 07 Sep 2007 16:19:19 -0700, Larry Blanchard

You'd be surprised.
On a chest, buffet, or sideboard with 2-3 different drawer sizes, with some version of half blind on the front and through DT's in the back..
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