I've been researching dovetail jigs since I'm interested in joinery. What
model jig would the group recommend? I've seen a lot of discussion on the
web about the Leigh D24 (I think?) jig. How does this compare with the
Porter Cable 24" Omnijig? Does anyone have any experience with the Porter
Cable model? What about any experience with the Leigh model? Can anyone
provide some information/advice on this topic?
Is it really a good idea to spend that much money to make dovetail joints?
One of my projects in the future, 1 to 2 years away, is to redo my kitchen
and make all of the cabinets and drawers myself.
I have owned 2 DT jigs. An OLD Sears model that worked quite well with
normal PC guide bushings and I have owned a Leigh Jig for about 6 years.
If you just want to make simple Blind Dove Tails, you do not need a Leigh
HOWEVER, you will have to design your drawers and projects around the jigs
capabilities in that you cannot adjust the finger spacing on the cheap DT
jigs. You will otherwise probably end up with a portion of a pin or tail on
the top or bottom of the joint.
With the Leigh DT jig, your finger spacing configurations are limitless and
you can design the drawer to fit the hole. rather than the hole to fit the
drawer. There are several other jigs that can be used with the Leigh jig.
The F1 box joint jig is excellent.
I recently bought, then sold, the 16" PC OmniJig. It is very well made, with
a heavy cast aluminum base. The clamps use heavy steel cams that span the
entire width of the jig. However, I sold it because: 1) I immediately wished
I'd spent the extra $50 to get the 24" model, and 2) It requires a different
template for each kind of joint, and the templates are not cheap (It comes
with the half blind dovetail template - I purchased separately the 1/2" box
joint template @ $80. 24" templates are undoubtedly more $). For the cost of
the 24" OmniJig with a couple of templates, I figured I might as well just
get the Leigh.
What is your opinion on the functionality of the Porter Cable Omnijig? I
notice that the 24" model comes with both the half-blind and the through
dovetail. Did you feel that the 16" model operated well?
Yes, after considerable tweaking, it performed very well. But I believe all
jigs of this type require tweaking and test cutting on scraps until you're
satisfied with the results. I should have mentioned that the 16" (and
*probably* the 24" too) also came with the collar and dovetail router bit.
The PC is an old style jig with better hold. It's great if you're going to
use it for a joint only, rather than pretty, or a tour-de-force, where it
would be better, to my way of thinking, to do by hand. You do have to cater
to it for the half-pins.
For kitchen drawers, which normally have applied fronts, I'd use a drawer
joint bit. If I was trying to show off, the Leigh. Makes a lot of little
boxes with pretty through dovetails quickly, though, which is why I own one.
A Decorative wood front that normally matches the wood work and attached to
a drawer box. Draers built like this normally have 6 pieces of wood rather
than 5 pieces of wood.
The name describes its function. The joint does not lock vertically on a
drawer joint. The joint adds strength to fight the tendency for the drawer
front or back to pull away from the sides.
Almost all bit mkers make this bit. CMT, Whiteside, Amana, Freud make good
For built in cabinets I prefer to cut a rabbet on the ends of the sides
glue them and brad nail them. Then, attach a front to match the rest of the
cabinet doors. I cut the rabbets on the router table.
For furniture I always use DT's or Box Joints.
Whoops -- maybe I was not clear enough in my question (at least based on my
understanding of your reply). I meant to ask about using a TS for the
drawer joint (as shown at the link I gave), versus using a special router
bit. That being said, if you're cutting rabbets with a router, I s'pose
you wouldn't use a TS for a drawer/lock joint.
BTW, what size & type stock do you typically use on your built-ins
(kitchens cabs?) for the drawer (to which you then apply the front)?
Thanks. -- Igor
No, I don't use a TS to cut rabbets for drawers. BUT back to your question
of which I would use to make that lock miter joint, I would probably use the
router table vs. the TS. It would probably be 6 of one and a half dozen of
the other if considering set up time or ease of operation when considering
which tool to use. I think ultimately the lock miter router bit would
produce a smoother cut for this operation.
I prefer to use 1/2" Baltic Birch for the drawer sides, front and back. I
attach the 3/4" thick fronts with a 1-1/8" Pocket hole "style" screw. I
also try to use Accuride bottom center slides to save more space. Using
this slide along with the 1/2" thick stock produces a clean and space saving
drawer. When redoing a kitchen I also make the drawers go to the back of
the cabinet vs. 3" to 5" shy of the cabinet back. I want the customers to
get more room for their money.
Thanks. That is the info I was looking for. Also, as to the stock for the
drawer sides, one reason I asked is that I was wondering if it was worth
making the rabbets with 1/2" ply stock. Obviously, you think it is. Now
that I think about it, I suppose, beyond strength concerns, the rabbets
help keep the front piece of the drawer box vertical and flush with the
sides' front edges. Thanks. -- Igor
There you go Igor. The rabbets help hold every thing square during glue and
nail up and also provide a stop to limit how far the backs and fronts move
when indexing against the sides. The 1/2" Baltic is plenty strong and the
surface is quite consistent.
Over on alt.binaries.pictures.woodworking with title _Goodwill Desk Rehab_ I
have links to some pictures of a desk I'm working on. The drawer DT's were
cut with a Hart Design(very much like PC 12"). The sides and backs are 5/8
in scrap and the rabbeted fronts are about .9 in. FWIW I'm very reluctant
to crosspost to both here and a.b.p.w because last time I did that I managed
to send a whole flock of identical posts...
Doesen't using 3/4" material for a front on top of 1/2" invade on the space
of the drawer? Keep in mind that I have never built a full set of
cupboards, only drawers for furniture but it would seem that using a TS to
do a locking rabbit joint would eliminate the need for the 1/2 in the front
by doing it with the 3/4 material. I've seen that you can even do it with
the front rabbited for an overlap look but must admit that I've never been
able to master that - I reach for the DT jig.
No, because 98% of the cabinets that I build have the door outside the face
frame. The drawers fronts are also outside the face frames. The 1/2" thick
drawer box front does not go past the back side of hte 3/4" thick face
That is correct. However this is much slower to do and if you are doing
this for a living it cuts into the profit so to speak. Don't get me wrong
here though. If my drawer ever comes apart I fix it no questions asked. I
did my kitchen this way in 1990 and the drawers hare holding up just fine.
Occassionally I use my kitchen to show a client and they want their drawers
done this way also. Most factory prefab cabinets that most builders use
these days simply do not hold up. Aslo, and this does happen, if the
customer decides to change the style of the kitchen doors and drawers, I do
no have to charge for rebuilding the drawers again.
Are you talking about inset Dove Tails, Dove Tails that are not flush with
the drawer front?
I can post a pic of a night end table with that joint if you like.
I think I understand what you are saying - the back of the drawer front is
completely flush with the face frame on cabinets - therefore, the real 1/2"
drawer front is flush with front of the cabinets minus the face frame.
That makes sense - never thought of that. How do you attach the false front
to the 1/2" front so securly to hold up over 15 years?
Yes, that's what I'm talking about - sure, I'd like to see the pic. BTW -
when I see your name on a post, I generally open it because you're a great
resource of info here - thanks for that.
Yes. The drawer storage area extends into the back of the face frame 1/4".
I use a minimum of 4, 1-1/8" long pocket hole STYLE screws from the inside
of the drawer into the back of the decorative drawer front. Easier said
that done. In real life aligning the face and attaching is difficult
unless you know the trick. Typically you want to attach the drawer front to
line up with a cabinet door below it. To do this the drawer must be closed
so that you can use a straight edge along side the lower cabinet door to
align the drawer front from side to side. I place a block of wood behind
the drawer so that the front of the drawer box remains flush with the face
frame and not push back farther into cabinet. I put in the 4 screws from
the inside of the drawer box until the points of the screws just come
through the front side of the drawer box. I then align the decorative
drawer front and press it firmly against the drawer box and the 4 screw
points. This gives me indexing locations so that I know where to mount the
decorative drawer front with the drawer open. I open the drawer and realign
the decorative drawer front with the screw points and drive the screws all
the way into the decorative front. I prefer to use self tapping screws with
larger washer heads similar to pocket hole screws.
Thank you Don. I posted a picture of a walnut night stand with the inset,
rabbeted dovetails on a.b.p.w.
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