Are you a purist or just want to get the work done ? If you want to get
the work done and do not want to do these by hand, then a dovetail jig
is well worth the money. I tinkered with the bit depth and the jig setup
over the last couple of years and I have it set now so that the joints
are as perfect as I can get them. Of course I have a seperate router to
do just this.
I am sure you will get someone with the opposing opinion though and
that is just fine with me. I would like, in the future to be able to
make them by hand, but right now I do not have the time to teach myself.
Maybe when I retire I will 'move up' to doing them by hand.
Router jigs are NOT all the same.
There's an excellent article in the Oct '02 Woodworker's Journal on the
different types -- I'll summarize here:
2 basic types: half-blind and through-dovetail.
Half-blind (least $ - typically $50-100).
Easy to use, not as easy to set up (complication stems from joint itself,
not jigs). Half-blind means dovetail only visible from one side of joint.
Template is 'familiar gizmo with a comb-like plastic template on top'.
Very fussy accuracy required - 1/32" off can ruin joint fit. Fit
adjustment determined by only 2 things: router bit-depth and fore-and-aft
placement of jig - NOT adjusting jig itself. (ALL half-blind jigs,
including the ones below that do both half-blind and through-dovetails
have this issue; again, due to nature of the joint, not the jigs.)
Through-dovetail (more money - can run to $300+). Means you can see the
dovetails from both front face and side face of joint.
Jig systems: most commonly heard about is Leigh-type. Other types include
Keller Templates, Katie Jig (both "K" jigs do through-dovetails only,
$150-300), and Porter-Cable's Omnijig. (Leigh & Omnijig can run $300+).
I've also seen the master template system (I think about $50) to make your
own custom templates for any project.
Keller: PROS: simplest, very straightforward. CONS: pain if you're not
using default spacing.
Katie Jig: PROS: individually-adjustable forks for custom-spacing. CONS:
'fussy' to adjust & get forks square to joint.
Omnijig: PROS: 'industrial-strength brute', well-made. CONS: 60 lbs (!),
can't alter pin size (just tails), extra-cost for through-dovetail option (!!)
Leigh: seems to be the sort-of 'default' type. Has sliding forks - one
side cuts pins, other side cuts tails. PROS: excellent manual, very
adjustable (see below for why this is key!), makes any kind of dovetail.
CONS: price, basically. Author of the article clearly stated his
preference for this one.
Now - a word about adjustability: if you can't adjust the spacing, you are
stuck with either sides that are an even multiple of the dovetail width,
OR having a partial tail (or pin) at the end or both ends of the joint.
This means you MAY have kind of an ugly (imho) joint, with half-tails at
each end, or even worse - an asymmetrical joint if the width is such that
the partial tails would simply be too thin (then you end up with a full
tail at one end, full tails all across, then one partial tail). Ick.
Final word -- I've seen that guy on the DIY network cut real nice
dovetails, easy as you please, on a bandsaw with just an angle protractor.
Sure, you have to clean 'em out with a chisel, but you can make 'em any
width, they look great, and you save $300+ and a lot of annoying set-up.
How often you cut dovetails will determine whether you really need a
custom jig -- which I think is WAY more appropriate for production work of
many of the same joint, over-and-over, than a piece-at-a-time that most of
us do... ;-)
(Anyone wants a copy of the article, I could prob'ly scan it and send you
a copy or something, but it's a lot of work, my day is busy, so you'd
better REALLY need it and have something int'rsting to trade me... ;-)
On Tue, 13 Apr 2004 12:55:28 +0000, JAW wrote:
Thanks 'Nobody' that was a useful analysis of the different types.
I learned to cut d'tails when I was a kid, but some years ago I tried a
couple of the half-blind jigs and for my money they were more trouble than
they were worth, and unless you like the machine like symetry look like
IMHO, unless you are turning out this type of joint on at least a weekly
basis, the money is much better spent on some decent chisels and a good saw
and some time invested in learning to hand cut.
A lot depends on your approach to WW as a philosophy, a lot of people like
to play with gadgets and are fascinated by the precision that modern
technology can give, if that's your bag I'd look at a more general joint
machine like the Woodrat before investing in a dedicated dovetailer.
Good posting. Thanks.
However, for completeness sake, you should also mention the Akeda jig
(my favorite) -- www.akedajigs.com. It has superior dust collection
and is cheaper than Leigh. You get 80% of the Leigh capability at 60%
of the cost.
Also, many folks do dovetails with the Incra system (www.woodpeck.com
and click on either "new router systems" or "router systems") or the
JoinTech system (www.jointech.com). The advantage of those systems is
they do so much more! They also cost more. I've heard that the
dovetails are slightly less accurate with these systems but I'm not
convinced. Perhaps some of you could comment on the relative
accuracy..... say Leigh or Akeda versus Incra.
Wood Magazine had a special issue on jigs and one was making your own dovetail templates. Very simple to make. Haven't tried it yet but will before I shell out the kind of $$ they are asking for the jigs.
<DIV><FONT face=Arial size=2>just purchased a router. are dovetail jigs
worth the money? is any brand in particular better than the other, or
can i just buy any jig off ebay? Thanks for any
I would seriously consider an Incra Jig. I have used one for years now
and am _very_ happy with it. It not only can cut dovetails of all
the usual (and unusual!) varieties, but also box and other decorative
joints. It also serves as a precision routing/cutting fence with
just amazing repeatability. I got mine at a WWing show with all the
accessories and doodahs...
Tim Daneliuk email@example.com
I've had Leigh jig for about ten years. First time I tried it on
plywood, it lead to my learning to hand cut dovetails. I guess I owe it
something for that. Now I've learned that for many woods, backer boards
are essential. Otherwise, I like the thing and it's versatile. No regrets.
Never Enough Money wrote:
I have one of the woodstock int. $50 half blind jigs and once setup it works
great. have made about 50 drawer boxes with it. the setup is not that hard,
just a few scraps of wood the same thicknes and some trial and error.
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