Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 26

Thread: My Third Dovetail Jig

  1. #1

    My Third Dovetail Jig

    The March issue of Wood Magazine has a review of Through Dovetail Jigs. They like them all of course. They say they are idiot proof. That last statement is bogus. A hammer is not idiot proof. Anyway, I just bought my third dovetail jig and I would like to give my 2 cents worth.

    My first jig was the Leigh. It worked great and was easy to use. Those who say it is not easy to use must not have seen the Leigh manual. It is the best manual I've ever seen for anything I've ever bought. If you can't read, the pictures are great. But I've given the Leigh away because it didn't do what I wanted it to do. That's right, the most highly rated and most flexible jig didn't do what I wanted it to do. I wanted a jig that supported the router and workpiece really well, controlled the dust, and not use bushings. I never liked running my router over those fingers without tipping. And I ate a bunch of sawdust which does bad things to my nose.

    My next jig is the Akeda. It really is easy to use, supports the router extremely well, and the dust is controlled. You can leave the router on the jig hands off. However it still uses bushings. The claims that the Akeda does not require any adjustments are bogus. Why do they sell the over and under-sized straight cutters and bushings? The Akeda uses different size dovetail cutters depending on the wood thickness. I've found some of the Akeda cutters work better than others for getting a good fit. In fact, two of the dovetail cutters don't work at all for me. I've also bought the Whiteside bits for the Akeda. They are much better bits. I am satisfied with the Akeda and will keep it. It does half blind joints much easier than the Leigh. It is not as flexible or adjustable as the Leigh, but you can vary the pin spacing in increments of 1/8 inch. Actually, I like the fixed 1/8 inch spacing better than the variable spacing. It is easier to remake a part in the future because you can set up the jig exactly like it was when you first made it.

    This week I purchased my third dovetail jig... a Keller 1500. The Keller has fixed 1 1/8 inch pin settings so you have to design your project around that. The Keller uses a bearing on the cutter so no bushings. You can also turn the Keller upside down and use it on a router table. This is the way I'll be using it because it gives me the ultimate control of the workpiece and router while eliminating all the dust. But I would not keep the Keller without modifying it. I modified the Keller by installing a T-Track in the bottom of it. This allows me to place an edge stop to position the workpiece. But due to the layout of the Keller template, the edge stop has to be offset for the pin workpiece. The offset is 9/16 inch which is half the pin center to center distance. The alternative is to mark the pin placement on the workpiece after cutting the tails and then visually place the pin workpiece on the template. Too much chance for errors and inconsistent results. I'm pretty fussy about getting consistent results from my tools and jigs. That's why I only buy Craftsman contractor table saws. Just a little joke there. Finally, the manual is not that great. It's a good thing the jig is so easy to use. The manual says the jig template is 1/2 inch thick, but it is really 17/32 inch thick.


    There is no best dovetail jig. But I got what works for me.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Suffolk County, Long Island NY
    Posts
    1,148
    Robert,

    Thank you, that was very helpful to me as I'm considering the upcoming Akeda 24" jig, but have always liked the Keller/Gifkin/Katie type for the router table.

    Your likes and dislikes for these jigs is the same as mine.

    Pete

  3. #3
    Have had the Leigh D4 for some years, and I can't dispute what your saying. I would still buy it over anything else. Looked at the Akeda, and was VERY un-impressed. Looks dandy, but joints slop like a toothpick in a barn door. I saw it at a WW show, and a guy from the factory was demo-ing it. He couldn't make his joints tight - what hope did I have?

    The biggest thing with the Leigh is to have the right router. Plunge routers are out - it needs to be light. Small 2 HP fixed base is perfect. But don't go cheap (DeWalt) I tried this - my DW610 (real metal, US made) is fine, but the new Chinese DW616 sucks! The bit can not possibly be centered in the guide (Critical) Makita RF1101 or Bosch 1617 (without hoaky quick change guide) is good.

    As for the sawdust, I've gotten my share. I've never tried the vaccum attachment to see if it works. I have sawdust everywhere anyways.

    The Keller looks good though (No relation) The idea of working upside down on a router table is appealing, but I can't see being without variable pin spacing.

    Richard.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    S.E. Tennessee ... just a bit North of Chattanooga
    Posts
    1,000
    If you had kept the Leigh, you could have used it as a template to make your own templates that would, for all practical purposes have been identical to the Keller. Set up the Leigh .. use a pattern-cutting bit to follow the fingers .. the results should be a blank that can be used just like a Keller. I've never done this, but I discussed the possibility with Mark Hensley who used to do the shows for Leigh, and he thought it was a perfectly sound idea. Maybe someday I'll get around to trying it out. For now, it's just a thought .. and thinking never was my strong suit, so feel free to pick the idea apart .. .. ..

  5. #5

    Leigh Jig idea

    I've started working an idea for my Leigh Jig. I clamped a piece of 1/4 inch hardboard to the front clamp bar. The top edge of this is aligned with the top of the guide fingers. It supports the router base on the operator side of the bit and stops the sawdust from being thrown at the operator. The basic idea seems to work - just need to make it a bit more convenient to adjust and add a hose to the dust collector.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    41,831
    I use the dust collection adaper from Leigh and don't really have much problem with the chips hitting me like they do without it. My Festool hose fits it perfectly and I've been able to use it with a PC, Dewalt and Festool router.
    --

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

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Country Club, MO, USA
    Posts
    897
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Strasser
    ...I wanted a jig that supported the router and workpiece really well, controlled the dust, and not use bushings. I never liked running my router over those fingers without tipping. And I ate a bunch of sawdust which does bad things to my nose...
    Robert,

    I am curious about the tipping problems you mention. I have a Leigh D4 - it would be very hard to give it up for something else.

    Which router(s) did you use on the Leigh? I use various on a D4, including an inexpensive Firestorm FS1200RP plunge router (my back-up), to the DW618 fixed base, to the really hefty DW625 plunge machine, which I prefer to use on the D4.

    I am probably wrong, of course, but it seems to me that all horizontal dovetail jigs will tend to make the routers a little tipsy, due to their narrow finger arrangement. As a result, they require the utmost concentration from the operator. When this did not happen, for example, I managed to kiss one of the fingers with the router bit, without serious consequences - and the carbide survived OK. And I have never used a jig that allowed use of bearings in place of guide bushings.

    I would like to read some additional details, so that I can learn.

    And I second Jim's suggestion to get the vacuum accessory - it IS hard to beat.

    Thanks!


    .
    Al
    http://www.sawmillcreek.org/images/buttons/fotc.gif
    Sandal Woods - Fine Woodworking

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    41,831
    A smaller fixed base router is also more stable for dovetail work, no matter what brand jig, in most cases. Plungers are top-heavy and tend to exacerbate the instability issue.
    --

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

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Webster Groves, MO
    Posts
    655
    Blog Entries
    10
    Looked at the Akeda, and was VERY un-impressed. Looks dandy, but joints slop like a toothpick in a barn door. I saw it at a WW show, and a guy from the factory was demo-ing it. He couldn't make his joints tight - what hope did I have?
    I purchased the Akeda last weekend and used it to make some half blind dovetails to trim out my new workbench. Outside of that, I've just played around with it making dovetail joints on scraps and have yet to experience any problem with looseness. I'm using a Dewalt DW618 fixed base router with a 7/16" brass bushing and followed the Akeda manual to a tee.

    I like this jig so much, that I'm redoing a couple of my project designs just so I can add dovetails.

  10. #10
    [quote]
    Quote Originally Posted by Al Navas
    Robert,

    I am curious about the tipping problems you mention. I have a Leigh D4 - it would be very hard to give it up for something else.

    Which router(s) did you use on the Leigh? I use various on a D4, including an inexpensive Firestorm FS1200RP plunge router (my back-up), to the DW618 fixed base, to the really hefty DW625 plunge machine, which I prefer to use on the D4.
    Al,

    I use Porter Cable 690 series for dovetail work. I also put on clear bases that I purchased from Pat Warner. The clear bases help visibility.

    Now as far as tipping: I found it is just a little harder than doing any edge-type routing. Especially when doing half blind dovetails. You just have to be careful. One solution is to get an offset router base. Pat Warner also sells these. http://patwarner.com/offset_subbase.html


    And I second Jim's suggestion to get the vacuum accessory - it IS hard to beat.

    Thanks!
    I also had the Leigh dust collection device which works rather well even though it does get in the way a little. However, it does not suck up the fine dust. I had to wear a dust mask or I would have some alergy problems.

    Anyway, I'm happy with my choices. And the High School fine woodworking department is very happy with my Leigh Jig.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Country Club, MO, USA
    Posts
    897
    Great, Robert! Thanks - I understand better now.


    .
    Al
    http://www.sawmillcreek.org/images/buttons/fotc.gif
    Sandal Woods - Fine Woodworking

  12. #12
    After reading the various posts about the Keller, it seems like they are all positive and the main comment on the Keller is ease of use. It seems reasonable, but I understand it only does fixed full dovetails.

    I am hoping I can find out where you can get this track at and if the "stop" that is shown will hold both boards at a perfect 90 degree angle.

    Beginner's questions I know.

    Thanks

    Steve Bolton
    Attached Images Attached Images

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Mansfield MA
    Posts
    1,372
    They say they are idiot proof
    I always preferred the phrase "Idiot resistant". In my experience, idiots can actually be quite clever...

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    L.I., NY
    Posts
    157
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Keller View Post
    ...but I can't see being without variable pin spacing.

    You can skip spaces or shift the template between cuts for variable spacing in any width or length of stock, or change the router bit size.
    Matt

  15. #15
    There is a new version of dust collection for the Leigh Jigs called the VRS which has a full width support platform for the router as well as a follower dust collection system. It works great.

Similar Threads

  1. Akeda Dovetail Jig
    By CPeter James in forum General Woodworking and Power Tools
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 04-28-2007, 11:11 PM
  2. Dovetail Progress, LN Dovetail Review
    By Dennis McDonaugh in forum Neanderthal Haven
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 03-24-2004, 8:44 AM
  3. Dovetail Jig
    By Erik Stol in forum General Woodworking and Power Tools
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 01-04-2004, 1:52 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •