I have been using a Rockler dovetail jig I bought at least 5 years ago.
It was OK but a real pain to setup. It is 311373 if you care. They don't
sell it anymore. It has had it and I am in the market for a new one. I
want to get a jig for half blind and through dovetails. I don't care
much about box joints. Does anyone have a jig that they really like a lot?
TIA for your answers.
Leigh builds several. Akeda is reported to be good but is not available.
You should consider which style you want. Jigs come as adjustable and
non adjustable. With adjustable you can adjust the tails and fingers on
the jig to fit the piece od wood you are working with. With non
adjustable you have to adjust wood widths to what will work with the
jig, otherwise you end up with partial pins and or tails.
Regardless most all especially with half blind you have to typically
sneak up on the bit depth, too deep and the fit is too tight, too
shallow and the git is too loose.
Also many now sit on top of a router table and you move the jig and wood
on top of the router table, the router is stationary. Leigh has
recently gotten into offering this type jig also.
I have the Leigh D4 jig and it is great when I can remember how to set
it up. Swingman has the same and had issues with the fingers slipping
and screwing up cuts. It is very versatile but you must read the
instructions a time or two or more. HE uses the Akeda now IIRC.
I have steered from dovetails unless the customer dictates that I use
them. I either use rabbited joints reinforced with through Domino
tenons or I use box joints. I use the Incra iBox for cutting those.
Knowing what I know now I would opt for non adjustable fingers and
design around the capability of the jig. There is simply less to keep
up with when the pieces, when cut properly, all fit. When you DT tails
and pins are asymmetrical you have to pay close attention to tops of
boards and bottoms of boards.
One advantage to the newest D4 series DT jigs is that you can cut the
pin and tail boards at the same time essentially cutting work time in half.
Then there is this set up that I have seen at WW shows. I'm not
convinced that it is for any type of production work as it uses a
relative small bit and has limitations as to what how wide of a board
you can cut.
Most likely I would go this route.
The beauty to this jig is that gravity works with you to insure that the
work is fully seated on the jig.
Or maybe this one for simplicity
The draw back, like with most stationary jigs, is that gravity works
against you in properly seating the work in the jig. If one side ends
up being low or the template flexes you cut is not going to come out right.
Perhaps but the opposite side of the jig is offset to cut the mating
pieces. And you need an exact bushing and exact size bit. The jig is not
expensive as far as these type jigs go and they are often significantly
discounted at ww shows. I think I would put my effort and a little money
towards the actual jig rather than saving a few $ and trying to build part
of it myself.
Thanks Leon. My defunct Rockler was non adjustable and I was able to use
it OK. After filling my basement with flying shavings I was able to copy
a design from someone on this NG who was able to capture many of the
chips as they flew off the router bit. I guess if I go to my router
table I will be back to a big mess but having a good jig would be worth
it. I will study your suggestions tomorrow morning. I was watching New
England play KC tonight.
FWIW routers tend to be messy. Leigh jigs makes a dust collector set up
and I gave one to Swingman. IIRC it is more trouble than it is worth.
I would not let, in this case, dust/chips enter into the determination
of which jig you choose.
Something I might remind you about, and it shows in the video when he
cuts the pins. You need to pay attention to where the bit enters, makes
climb cuts, and exits. Typically you make a climb cut between the jig
fingers to help prevent tear out when the bit exits the slot. This is
pretty much true with most jigs. I'm sure the manual will cover this.
Leigh is pretty good about tips.
Just a couple more things to consider with the RTJ 400 jig. No jig is the
answer to all problems.
This jig should be fine for relatively short stock, drawers. If you plan
to go fancy on a cabinet carcass and DT the exterior corners and want to
use long stock you should consider that a long price laying horizontal on
the back side of the jig might force you to stand to one side. AND you
will need to take care to prevent the jig from tipping, a long piece of
wood will exert a lot of leverage.
You will notice on most all of the videos that the back horizontally
mounted piece is short for demo purposes. I'm sure you could make a spacer
to go under that piece to help guard against tipping. AND some joints
allow both mating pieces to be cut in the front vertical position, so there
would be no issue, IIRC.
AND this jig clamps the wood I place on both sides, but not across the
piece. Many jigs have a bar that crosses the wood. The bar can flatten a
slightly bowed piece of wood. The RTJ400 will not flatten a bowed board
unless the crown is against the jig. It is imperative that the wood is
flat against any jig. Some jigs address this better than the JTR400.
Having said that it should go with out saying that flat wood is easier to
If I did not already own the D4 I would probably still buy this particular
Just something to consider.
On Sunday, January 17, 2016 at 10:56:28 PM UTC-6, Leon wrote:
I own the D4 and I am amazed at how you can make an absolutely dovetail joi
nt with it, but there is a fair amount of set up. Once it's done though, yo
u're good for multiple joints. I can see the advantages of the router table
jig, although I'm not sure about moving the entire piece v. moving a route
I just realized I have a problem to overcome. My self made router table
(based on the design from Norm Abrams) has a Porter Cable router driving
it but the PC router plate is not used. Instead the router hangs on a
plate without the 1-3/8" diameter counter bore insert ring. I need to
figure out how I can retrofit my router table with a different router
plate as the Leigh jig depends on a guide bushing that needs the counter
bore to let you recess the top of the guide bushing.
Norm used a (no longer sold) Rockler router plate. I am heading there
tomorrow after work to see if I can get something to work with their
current router plate. I *might* have found something on their website
but they are only 45 min from where I work so better to see it with my
Having a home made router table top is great, BUT, it must be absolutely
dead flat. So you might want to double check that if you have not done
so. If there are low or high spots the jig will not perform accurately.
And high and low can be just a slight amount to throw things off. With
a long jig the deviation can multiply results and DT's are notorious for
being finicky with proper fit.
Just something to double check before committing.
As some of us here here have found, when you start expecting better
accuracy you have to have the right set up and more elements begin to
Just to let you know, you gave another answer to an unasked question
of why should I buy a router table top, and by tacit understanding why
a good solid mounting is required for that top. (similar to a wood
working bench) or a good reason for a one inch thick mdf table top
I have just returned from Rockler. The do have an old router plate
insert that will work. Being old they did not have it the store so I
have ordered it ($8). Next I will check for flatness. I totally hear you
about DT's being finicky. If all looks good and the Rockler part fits,
then I will buy the Leigh jig. If my router table is NOT flat, I think I
will go buy a different jig (Porter Cable 4210 maybe) and my hand held
router which was the setup I used on my defunct Rockler dovetail jig.
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