Which Simple-to-learn dovetail jig for Newb ?

I "owe" boxes with dovetail joints to a few of my friends, so I have been shopping for dovetail jigs. Unfortunately, I'm a just a greenie and have never used one of these before, this is getting awfully confusing.
What I am looking for is a jig that's reasonably easy to use,(good documentation or an instructional video would be cool), and can cut enough different types of joints so that I won't need to immediately buy _another_ one.
I've been looking at jigs from Rockler, Keller, and Leigh. I'm willing to spend money for a tool that will make me smile everytime I use it, but of course, I don't want to over-spend, but I'm afraid of buying a more limited jig, finding out that it doesn't do something that I want, and having to go buy the expensive one in the first place!
To make matters worse, I'm not sure just how many boxes I expect to make in the next couple of years. There's a reasonable possibility that it could be more than a few. Or maybe I'll stop at two or three.
Any advice anyone could offer me, or web pointers would be appreciated.
Thanks Jim Helfer Pittsburgh PA
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The Keller journeymen's jig is about as simple as it gets and does a nice dovetail.
--
Mike G.
Heirloom Woods
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I'm a relative newbie (got the shop together about 1 year ago) and ended up buying the Leigh, and couldn't be happier with it.
The manual is quite lengthy, but that's just because you can do so much with this jig. But if you want to just cut some half blind dovetails, you can learn it in a couple of hours. The whole thing made complete sense to me, and I wouldn't trade it for any other jig. It took perhaps an hour to put together, and the very first test cut I made was PERFECT. I'd like to make a quick reference chart for setup on common cuts, laminate them, and post it on the wall, but when I got back in the shop after taking the summer off, the first thing I made was 4 drawers, and only had to take about 20 minutes to refresh my memory on how to do things.
I'm thinking of buying a smaller router just for the jig. I have the dewalt 621 and it's a bit heavy to do some hand work. Usually this router just sits in my table.
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Thanks for the good report. I know people really like the Lee Valley stuff, although it's more money. It' snot more moeny than 2 dovetail jigs though, and since I know that I want to do through, blind and box, I wnat something that will do all three.
Jim H
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At the severe risk of being flamed, I bought a Craftsman dovetail jig with an additional box joint template. Not the cheapie, but their "professional" one. I don't even know if they still make it. I bought mine about 4-5 years ago.
It is a pain to assemble, but once that's done it's easy to use. Spacing is fixed, although after you look at the templates for awhile you'll notice that it wouldn't be impossible to make your own.
BTW, your first task should be to duplicate the templates using a pattern following bit - DAMHIKT.
--
Where ARE those Iraqi WMDs?

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Larry Bud wrote:
snip

Huh? The DW 621 is probably the lightest plunge router out there. For that matter it's one of the lightest routers of any kind other than a trim router.
The original poster's criteria
"What I am looking for is a jig that's reasonably easy to use,(good documentation or an instructional video would be cool), and can cut enough different types of joints so that I won't need to immediately buy _another_one."
The "different types of joints" part sort of rules out the Keller and its type. That puts him in the Akeda/Leigh jigs price range OR a router table with fence positioning system and postioning templates - like the Incra and JoinTech. With them you don't need special bits and collars AND you've got a versatile fence system.
Because the jigs require additional expense to get a good range of joint sizes, the total cost of the fence positioning systems are in the same total price range.
charlie b
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I have the Leigh and like it...if I was to do over I might seriously consider this style...
http://www.akedajigs.com /
check out the "comparison chart"

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wrote:

    Take a look at the Stots jig <www.stots.com > I did a lot of head-scratching and ordered the Akeda jig, but they are not shipping because of a building fire, or something. I waited two months, but the project couldn't wait any longer. It was a project that did not require lots of different setups, so I decided to give the Stots a whirl.
    The Stots "Make it Right Dovetail Template Master"(tm) is nothing but a pattern for making your own through-dovetail jig. You end up with something functionally equal to a Keller jig, but you did it yourself and the 'master' only costs $40. You need two bits: a half inch pattern cutter and an 8 degree DT bit, 1/2 inch diameter, 13/16 inch cutting length, with a 5/8 inch bearing guide (another $40 if you need them).
    The jigs you make are not adjustable but you can cut them based on multiples or combinations of multiples of the basic 1 inch pattern, so you can make dovetails in various patterns (which a Keller cannot on its own), and you can make any length jig you want. You can cut angled DTs as long as you stay in the same plane as the workpiece. (I have not yet figured out how to make compound angled DTs, but I believe it's doable.) Once you make your jig and align it, the jig works perfectly until you screw up and cut into it - then you just get out the master and make another jig.
    Different stock thicknesses are not a problem. The basic jig alignment is done once, to set how 'tight' or 'loose' you want your DTs, regardless of stock thickness. Each time you use the jig you have to set the bit depth, but that is done by eyeball in about ten seconds. Basically, this jig is very easy to use.
    I am looking at 20 drawers, and making one jig to work 80 identical pins and 80 identical tails is perfect for the Stots. If you want something that sets up fast for variable spacing, or that cuts half-blind DTs (you can fake half-blinds with the Stots, but if it's case construction the work-around is no good) *and* through DTs, then spend the $400 on a Leigh or an Akeda. If you want to have a little fun and save a lot of money, get the Stots. Google it and you will finds several positive reviews and hints for making simple or elaborate variations on the basic setup. I get FWW and their review put me off this jig for a long time. Now that I'm using the jig, I can see the review was flawed.
    Oh yeah, I think you are limited to using 13/16 inch stock or thinner. The DT bit isn't tall enough for anything larger, and I'm betting that the template limits you to using this bit for the tails. ====Those are my principles. If you don't like them I have others. ===={remove curly brackets for email}
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wrote:

look here" www.katiejig.com
got one. zero learning curve. works like a champ.
TomL
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I cut mine on the bandsaw and it's actually a lot easier than you might think. Lonnie Bird's book has a good explanation of how to do it. Frank Klausz video is also very helpful. I would say it requires: 1. a chisel and the ability to sharpen it 2. a bandsaw with a fine blade (I use 3/8", 10tpi, although I am considering getting a blade with higher tpi. Having it at least 3/8" wide really helped me guide the blade.) 3. courage
Mark

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