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Frustrated with Dovetail jigs

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  • Frustrated with Dovetail jigs

    Maybe I want the impossible but I'm really tired of screwin' around with dovetail jigs. I tried a Vermont American that was junk. Then I spent about twice as much for a Jet and it was junk too. Then I doubled the price again for a Porter Cable. It wasn't junk but it was very hard to set up and use. I don't want to spend 45 minutes doing setup every time I want to join a drawer. Nor do I want to waste tons of lumber on trial joints. Does anyone make a dovetail jig that self-aligns when you place the drawer sides in it? If not, what's the easiest one to use?

  • #2
    At the present time I don't own a dovetail jig, nor have I ever used one. I did have the 12" jig that PC sells. After looking at the instructions on set up and reading a few things, I decided to sell it and got about 2/3 of my money back.
    I haven't made a lot of drawers or other things in which dovetails are clearly the best form of joinery, however I will be doing so in the future. I have been experimenting with handcutting them and have gotten the basic joint down fairly well and will most likely handcut the joints.
    Nevertheless, if I were in the market for a dovetail jig, I buy the Keller jig. Compared to other jigs, the Keller, especially if with the optional clamp, is simple. It's designed to cut through dovetails in contrast to the Leigh and PC jigs that use half-lapped (half-blind) dovetails as their standard feature. I think you can purchase extra templates for through dovetails, but the set up on these jigs is complicated, especially for the casual user. If you can afford the space and a extra router, it would seem these jigs would work better if you could dedicate a router to them and keep the most common setup. The fact that the Keller doesn't cut half-lapped dovetails isn't that important, at least to me, because I would use an applied front anyway. I've seen the Keller demonstrated, along with one of the PC jigs, in Gary Roginski's video on Router Joinery. This video is available from about any ww place (Woodcraft, Taunton Press, etc...) for around $20.
    All of this may not be of any interests to you, but I mention it because I concluded that some of these jigs (the one I bought) were simply too time consuming in terms of learning and setup and too expensive (similar to Tormek grinder/sharpener), especially when you consider all initial costs as well as all the add-ons that are available for various types of joinery. For what I do, at least initially, I'll try handcuts first (kind of fun and challenging to do this), and if I see a need to go to something else, I'll most likely by the Keller. The Keller is available from a number of sources (I don't think Woodcraft though) one of them being Highland Hardware. www.tools-for-woodworking.com

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    • #3
      I agree. Most of the dovetail jigs under $200 are pretty much the same, and are a pain in the rear.
      I've looked at the more expensive ones, while they offer more features, they seem to also be a pain in the rear.
      This site Dovetail Jig 'ShootOut' jigs offers some good reviews.
      www.TheWoodCellar.com

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      • #4
        I have experiance with the Porter Cable Dove Tail Jig and the LEIGH Jig. Both have their meritts. The PC is built heavy and is designed to hold up to frequent use. It works well.

        The Leigh is more precise and adjustable. It sets up quickly and can do more than the PC.

        In my opinion, the Leigh is worth the price.

        I can not stress enough how nice it is to have a "dedicated" router for your dove tails. The router set up is 60-75% of getting your Jig made dovetails right.

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        • #5
          Thanks for all your input. Does anyone have an opinion on the Akeda?

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          • #6
            I recommend the Keller Jig. It only makes through dovetails but is very easy to set up and once done needs not further adjustment. On a drawer you would have to put a face on the drawer to make it look like you want. It will also make an infinite number of dovetails should you want to make something larger. I have a blanket chest that I used it on and am very pleased.

            [ 03-04-2004, 10:47 PM: Message edited by: tcaniff ]

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            • #7
              Take a look at this method of drawer jointery. Makes a very strong square joint and easy to use.

              http://www.routerbits.com/cgi-router...80864_10325+72
              I came...<br /><br />I saw...<br /><br />I changed the plans.

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              • #8
                I second the Kellar. It makes dovetails fun. They have 2 different sets. No set up problems. I have another dovetail jig I never use. Keller is between $100 and $200. Anybody can use it.
                Steve

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                • #9
                  I have and use the rockler. It works well once you set it up. However, unless you use it alot it takes about 1/2 hour to set. Once set it is fine. I have seen a demo of the keller and it seems to be the same as the rockler. Does anyone have experience with both. If so, what do you prefer and why?
                  Here is a pic of the rockler, on sale it was about $50 with 1 template,bushings router bit. The optional through dovetail template is about 60 or 70 bucks, but I've seen it at HF for alot less. I agree with the others who said a router devoted to dovetailing is a big help. If you make dovetails even just once a month it will pay off in your time in (IMO) less than a year.
                  www.TheWoodCellar.com

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                  • #10
                    Raphael,
                    I have a differing opinion and hope I don't alienate anyone. The Keller jig I have works very disimalarly to the PC jig. With the Keller you have a template screwed to a piece of wood 1-1/2" thick. You use one side to route the pins and the other side to do the tails. Once you have the template positioned where you want your dovetails, all you have to do is clamp it on the piece and route. Clamp to other, mating piece, route, and put them together. I also have a jig from crapsman which does half-blind similar to the PC. In my humble opinion for the money the keller cannot be beat. That's my opinion for my purposes, it may not be "all that" for someone else.

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                    • #11
                      tcaniff,
                      I take no offense. I am here to learn about other peoples experiences with dovetail jigs.
                      www.TheWoodCellar.com

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                      • #12
                        How ofensive.....

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                        • #13
                          I'm glad I'm not the only guy that has tried and failed more than once with dovetail jigs!! Thank you all for your answers and advice. I gotta say, GW may be on to something with the locked router joints shown at the web site he pointed me to. I'm going to order one or two and give them a whirl.

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                          • #14
                            I use one and love it, set it and start cuttin
                            That particular bit has a much smaller diameter than mine not sure if it makes a difference but here is mine

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                            • #15
                              Good news and bad news. I tried the bit GW pointed me to. It made a great joint that was easy to set up and had plenty of strength. The bad news is, the Router Bits.com bit is really a cheezy quality. Works well in pine but burns oak. Does anyone know the best source for a similar bit of higher quality?

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