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Thread: Perfect Half Blind Dovetail joints on Porter Cable 4200 jig

  1. #1

    Perfect Half Blind Dovetail joints on Porter Cable 4200 jig

    Hi, I'm a newbie to this jig. I'm getting close but I'm not getting perfect half blind dovetail joints. I bought the jig second hand at an estate sale and it is in great shape. Came in it's own wooden case, pretty slick. I believe I've followed directions well from the manual and you tube videos. I'm a little sketchy on the router bit depth. How do I know that the bit depth gauge on the jig is set correctly? I know that deep depth is tighter and shallow is looser. I'm at the point where the tails fit into the pins more than halfway but do not insert fully into the pins. Do I need to keep fine tuning the bit depth on the router into micro-moves until I nail it or is there a template adjustment that can help me? Thanks for your time.

  2. #2
    David,

    In my experience the full-size (1/2") half-blind setup is somewhat forgiving and so I advise that you just keep playing with the depth until you get a good fit. I do not know of any tricks or setups for adjusting the fit that are not in the manual. Maybe I was lucky, but I just set the depth to a bit more than half of the pinboard thickness and got good results the first try.

    I was never able to get good results with half-blind DT using the miniature template and bit, however. I eventually finished that job by manually trimming the tails.

    Doug

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    I've had the best luck by marking the depth on my stock, mounting it and then setting bit depth to that--stopped using the depth gauge.

    Another thought is to check the bushing diameter to make sue it's not a little undersized (or over?) and that it's centered to the bit.
    Earl

  4. #4
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    Centering the bushing is critical. There is an additional manual available on line. If you cannot find it PM me and I will scan mine and email it to you.
    George

    Making sawdust regularly, occasionally a project is completed.

  5. #5
    David check out Kings Fine Woodworking youtube channel he uses this jig a lot and goes into detail on how to set it up and use it.here is one of his videos that might be helpful "PurpleHeart Keepsake Box part II" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWFMqX-7kK I have never attempted dovetails but plan on learning to if the future and his videos are always interesting and instructive. Good luck


  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by George Bokros View Post
    Centering the bushing is critical. There is an additional manual available on line. If you cannot find it PM me and I will scan mine and email it to you.
    I agree that getting the bit centered is important, to a degree, but I found that as long as I was always holding the router the same way (not rotating it from cut to cut) the joint alignment was fine. I never trusted the indicator lines - always just used those as a gross adjustment. If you want perfect results you need to iterate through the process of tweaking the various adjustments until you get what you want. (note - make sure that your setup material is milled to the same thickness as you real material or there will be fitup problems.)

  7. #7
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    Bit depth is simple but not simple...you have to sneak up on it and the final adjustments are the equivalent of that "proverbial hair", but you start "at the line" of material thickness. The only want to do this is to have additional material that is exactly the same as you'll be using for your project so you can do multiple test cuts to zero in on "perfection"...or at least as close as it will be to that in the end. Your test material should also be the same species so that it exactly matches what will come on the real deal.

    Pat's comment about not varying the position of the router is also important. There will alway be slight variances in the roundness of the guide bushing and even with careful centering using appropriate tooling, it's near impossible to get that perfect once you start tightening baseplate screws. So holding the router exactly the same through the entire cuts is important.

    I also find that a fixed base router is much more effective (and less top heavy) for cutting dovetails on a jig than a plunge router is. Easier to adjust depth granularly, too.
    Last edited by Jim Becker; 09-14-2017 at 9:52 AM.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  8. #8
    Here is a link to the supplemental manual: www.portercable.com/jigs/dovetail/SupplementalManual.pdf

  9. #9

    center the busing?

    Quote Originally Posted by George Bokros View Post
    Centering the bushing is critical. There is an additional manual available on line. If you cannot find it PM me and I will scan mine and email it to you.
    Thanks George,

    The bushing only screws on one way to the router or am I missing something? How would I adjust the bushing to center it?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Baxter View Post
    David check out Kings Fine Woodworking youtube channel he uses this jig a lot and goes into detail on how to set it up and use it.here is one of his videos that might be helpful "PurpleHeart Keepsake Box part II" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWFMqX-7kK I have never attempted dovetails but plan on learning to if the future and his videos are always interesting and instructive. Good luck
    Thanks Ted, I will check it out

  11. #11
    Thanks Jim,

    This is a special order box I'm working on and I've decided to challenge myself on these dovetails. The materials are a combination of Brazillian cherry, ash and walnut as a glue-up. The challenge is to get as perfect a dovetail joint so with the box pieces are assembled, the stripes of different wood species will line up correctly and be uniform around the entire box. Not quite feasible to use the same species as practice wood as the wood is expensive and hard to come by. I've been using oak, planed down to the same thickness to practice the cuts. I have the combination plunge/fixed base Porter Cable router so I don't use the plunge base. Thank you all for your suggestions.

  12. #12
    I downloaded it, thanks!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Tolsky View Post
    Thanks George,

    The bushing only screws on one way to the router or am I missing something? How would I adjust the bushing to center it?
    There is some wiggle room with the base plate of the router. Loosen up the 3 or 4 screws on the plate to center the bushing.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Cary Falk View Post
    There is some wiggle room with the base plate of the router. Loosen up the 3 or 4 screws on the plate to center the bushing.

    Will do, thank you!

  15. #15
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Tolsky View Post
    Thanks Jim,

    This is a special order box I'm working on and I've decided to challenge myself on these dovetails. The materials are a combination of Brazillian cherry, ash and walnut as a glue-up. The challenge is to get as perfect a dovetail joint so with the box pieces are assembled, the stripes of different wood species will line up correctly and be uniform around the entire box. Not quite feasible to use the same species as practice wood as the wood is expensive and hard to come by. I've been using oak, planed down to the same thickness to practice the cuts. I have the combination plunge/fixed base Porter Cable router so I don't use the plunge base. Thank you all for your suggestions.
    SO....you're starting out with a, um...simple...project, eh??
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

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