I am looking into getting a router and a dovetail jig. I went to
woodcraft and the prices are pretty high for someone just getting into
What do you guys think of these for someone starting out? What should I
be looking for anyway?!
They both appear to be inexpensive (cheap) knock-offs. In my
experience, cheap tools are frustrating. I am not saying you couldn't
do good work with these tools, just be ready for the frustation. You
might be better off buying higher quality used brands. Look on
craigslist in your area.
I'd agree with Dave, but I'll add
something else. I don't own a dovetail
jig, and some of the other guys may be
able verify/refute what I'm saying about
the jigs. I've never heard anything
negative about the higher end jigs (i.e.
Leigh) but I question the need for them
for the occasional hobbyist.
I've done dovetails by hand and I've
used my route. Both methods have
produced respectable results, without
the learning curve required for a jig.
My impression of owning a jig is that
it's a godsend for someone who's doing a
lot of dovetails, but only so-so for
someone who's either new to the field or
is doing just a few dovetails.
Agree again, but need to add this:
A good jig's learning curve is not that steep for someone with lots of
real routing experience. For someone that's both new to the router
and to the jig, it can be an absolute headache. I didn't get a Leigh
jig until I had done lots of work, and found it rather easy to learn.
I did one set of test cuts when the jig was brand new, following the
manual, and it's been gravy from there.
If I think back to when I was a beginner, the jig would have been a
nightmare, and I would have wasted a lot of wood. <G>
I still do smaller numbers by hand simply because I really like the
ultra-skinny pins that I can't do with the jig. I can be cutting in
less than 15 minutes with the D4, so there is no longer much wasted
time to set up.
One thing I can do much easier with the jig than anything else is
dovetails in birch ply and finger joints. There are probably 50 ways
to do finger joints, but I really like the jig the best. Dovetailing
plywood can often be a lesson in futility, but it's easy with a jig
and backer stock.
For someone who wants to hand cut joinery, the most important skill to
learn is sharpening. EVERY hand tool works better when seriously
sharpened. So much of my early hand tool work was frustrated until I
learned what sharp really meant.
** http://www.bburke.com/woodworking.html **
I solved the problem easily. I don't do dovetails. I got a jig a few
years back and the set-up was so fiddly and confusing I just said "To
hell with it!" Now when I need a jointed corner I do box or finger
joints which, to me anyway, look as good as dovetails and, with
today's glues, are not that much less strong.
My advice? Forget the jig and spend the extra money on a much better
router which you will find pays lots more dividends in future. A
dovetail jig does one thing. A router, however, is indispensible to
almost every project.
When I first wanted to make dovetails I looked for the cheapest
I purchased a Jet model for $49. It cost considerably more after
the collar, bits, etc. The manual was so totally wrong as to settings
took weeks to create my first dovetails. I only make dovetails a few
times a year
so that the next time I needed to make them I had forgotten the
settings, process, etc. If
I had been making dovetails ever week and had two dedicated routers
that once adjusted
could be left untouched the Jet would have been a great machine. It is
unlike the cheap eBay unit. Cheap jigs will sap you of your enthusiasm
I next bought a Keller Journeyman jig which is simplicity itself and
if set up correctly initially. It works perfectly for someone who only
makes a few
dovetails each year. Friends have the Leigh and Porter Cable jigs and
love them. They
are much more expensive of course but cheap don't last. Actually, my
last two projects
had hand cut dovetails which turned out fairly well. They are not as
we sometimes imagine. Everything takes practice to do easily.
In the past we sold a similar dovetail jig and we did demos for our dealers
at woodworking shows. The jig you are looking at is very fidgety and would
take too much time to set up and modify for my tastes.
0. Other than whittling (sp?) - there are no cheap
forms of woodworking.
1. BUY ONCE - CRY ONCE
2. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
The total cost is always the same - you get to pick
how much you pay in dollars (or whatever your
currency) and how much you pay in your time,
effort and frustration. It's a balancing act and
you get to decide where the fulcrum is to be
3. You can't buy knowledge, skills or abilities (unless
you pay some one to do the job - or hire a consultant
who says they'll teach you - for a price of course)
So - for under $60 - you could try and cut dovetail
joints with an "inexpensive" router and dovetail jig.
And I'm betting someone like Frank Klausz or Ian
Kirby could, if they tried, make perfect dovetail
joints with that set up. But I'm also willing to bet
that if you go this route - that you give up well
before you've got a dovetailed box you'd be willing
to show anyone - and may abandon woodworking
entirely - first impressions/ experiences being
Just my 2 cents.
POS jig. I bought one for $90 Canadian a few years back when the canuck
buk was about $0.65 US. I regret the purchase and prefer hand cutting
The jig would be useful for production run drawer blind dovetails... If
it was at all easy to set up consistently. It isn't. Instead spend your
money on this:
Cheap crap, plastic bearings, will run for about 20 hours operation,
then die. You'll regret it almost instantly. And if you want to cut
dovetails, see the Lee Valley link above...
Help improve usenet. Kill-file Google Groups.
Mon, Nov 12, 2007, 3:56pm (EST-1) email@example.com (Adam) doth
<snip> What do you guys think of these for someone starting out? What
should I be looking for anyway?! <snip>
Personally I wouldn't touch anything off of eBay that I could find
in a store. About the ONLY things I am willing to try to get off of
eBay anymore are things I absolutely cannot find anywhere else. Which
generally boils down to out-of-print books, usually a limited printing
of the same.
The whole of life is a learning process.
- John Keel
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