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Thread: Best Dovetail Jig?

  1. Best Dovetail Jig?

    Yes I know that we should all be able to cut dovetails by hand, and in fact not far from here is a guy who cuts beautiful dovetails with a Skilsaw.

    For the rest of us, it would be interesting to hear from others about which jigs they may have used and which are the most successful.

    I'm going to buy ONE jig that will allow me to some different types of dovetails, so any comments would be just great and we could all learn from each other?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Incra Jig will allow you to do doves and so much more. The website is www.incra.com
    What you listen to is your business....what you hear is ours.

  3. #3
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    The Leigh jig is extremely versatile and the manual is great.

  4. #4
    Jeff,

    While I own the Porter-Cable 24" jig, I've used it a LOT and like it for what it does. It can be flexible as long as you buy all the various templates for it.
    OTOH, I've also used the Akeda DT Jig and found that I "really" liked that setup. It's 16" capacity seems to be fine for most all DT joinery and it's easy to work, learn, setup, and use.

    After saying all that....you can go here and read all you want about a Dovetail Jig ShootOut that will allow you to read about each one. There's no better way to be more satisfied with a purchase than knowing you done your "homework" before making a purchase.
    Thanks & Happy Wood Chips,
    Dennis -
    Get the Benefits of Being an SMC Contributor..!
    ....DEBT is nothing more than yesterday's spending taken from tomorrow's income.

  5. #5
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    I use the Leigh jig, which really does enable you to produce joints which look hand cut, rather than the horribly uniform ones produced by most jigs.

    However, if I was buying again, I'd look seriously at a couple of other options;

    My friend has the Trend jig and swears by it - they don't seem to have distribution in the US though

    http://www.trendmachinery.co.uk/dc400/

    The Woodrat is a complete routing system which is well worth a look at - it produces fine dovetails and much more.

    http://www.woodshopdemos.com/wr-1.htm

    Another English product but it is distributed in the US

    Cheers
    Brad
    Last edited by Brad Naylor; 06-30-2007 at 7:11 PM. Reason: Link wouldn't work

  6. #6
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    Cool

    The woodworking magazines have had ads for a new PC Omni Jig Joinery System that's supposed to be even better than the Leigh jig, but it hasn't made it to stores yet. It’s supposed to be available in August. Here’s the link -- http://www.porter-cable.com/index.asp?e=547&p=6188 or http://www.porter-cable.com/index.asp?e=547&p=6189

    I have the Incra system on my table saw and plan to add a router table as soon as I can. It seems to be the most versatile "jig" for making a wide variety of dovetails, but I haven't used it yet. Check out the Incra as well as the videos at -- http://incra.biz/

    Some may feel that the WoodRat is a good system for dovetails. I saw one review that reported that doing dovetails on it can be time consuming and somewhat difficult. I haven't used one so I can only report what I've read. I'm sure that someone that uses one will give you better information on one. Link to the WoodRat site -- http://www.woodrat.com/woodrat.html

    Akeda site -- http://akeda.com/index.htm

    As Dennis suggested, "doing your homework" before buying will save you a lot of money and headaches. What is best for someone else may not, however, be the best system for you. Checking out the jigs in action, if not with "hands on" experience would be the best way to decide what's best for you.
    Last edited by Don Bullock; 06-30-2007 at 7:33 PM.
    Don Bullock
    Woebgon Bassets
    AKC Championss

    The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.
    -- Edward John Phelps

  7. #7
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    Jeff, I've played with hand-cut dovetails, and had a whole drawer full of practice joints before getting to where they looked half decent. Sure, I can do them, but I don't have the time to practice to the point where I'd put my hand cut DT's on anything I put my name on. So, like you, I looked for a DT jig that would let me be as creative as possible. This was a 6 years ago, and after researching, I bought the Leigh jig. Yeah, the Incra system showed some incredible joinery possibilities at that time, but I just wanted really good DT joints.

    160-some page manual, seemingly complicated learning curve, but by taking it step by step and doing a few practice joints, it all came together. The first project I used it on was a solid Oak chest of drawers with DT drawers (1/2" thick Baltic birch) and variable-spaced DT's on all four feet (1.5" thick Red Oak) where the chest rested in a separate base. It came out beautifully, and that jig paid for itself in sentimental value in just one project (the chest was a gift for my brother to celebrate the birth of his first child).

    Have their been advances in DT jigs over the last several years? Maybe, I've never looked for another one. Other who use their stuff all the time may have better informed answers, but as a sometime user, I can say the Leigh is an amazingly versatile DT jig.

  8. #8
    I have always like the optional features you can get with the Leigh jigs, like the Isoloc, & mortise and tenon templates, I am not sure any other jigs allow you to do those, if they do please someone correct me. Not sure if the new PC Omnijigs coming out in August will do any of those either.

  9. #9
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    A couple of months ago (at the wood show) I talked with the PC guys about their new DT jig.

    One guy (who had the Leigh jig) used a prototype of the PC and said it was just as good as the Leigh, but 10 times easier to use.

    If you can wait, I would wait for the new PC and check it out.


    -jj

  10. #10
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    I got a deal on a Leigh jig a couple years back. Only one I've used. I've done them by hand - not very good at it yet.

    Highly recommend the Leigh jig. Highly adjustable, great manual.
    Where did I put that tape measure...

  11. #11
    Thanks to those who made mention of my Shootout. A comment on the WoodRat. It is a really nice system if you want to t ake the time to learn it. I am looking forward to the new PC Omnijig...it does keep getting pushed out there. I hope that it will make it to the market by AWFS time. I have my name on one. I think their currrent Omnijig was a surprise. I didnt know it had variable spacing. Quite similar to the Leigh.
    John Lucas
    woodshopdemos

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by John Lucas View Post
    Thanks to those who made mention of my Shootout. A comment on the WoodRat. It is a really nice system if you want to t ake the time to learn it. I am looking forward to the new PC Omnijig...it does keep getting pushed out there. I hope that it will make it to the market by AWFS time. I have my name on one. I think their currrent Omnijig was a surprise. I didnt know it had variable spacing. Quite similar to the Leigh.
    John, do you know very much about the new PC Omnijig? There site doesn't say very much, at least that I can find, and I wonder if it will have different templates like the Leigh.

  13. #13
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    Speaking of Jigs, there is a Leigh 16" with accessory pack on the clearance table at Rockler in St. Louis. I cannot remember the price on hand, but it was a fairly good deal.

    I personally use the Akeda, which is on sale with it's accessory pack for around $350-$400 every once in a while. At the time, it was either between the Akeda and the 16" Leigh. I went with the Akeda because it looked much simpler to set up and I really liked the dust collection, which by the way, does a phenominal job. Now that I've owned it for 6+ months, I am still very happy with it and have made some great dovetail joinery with it, but I do have one complaint. The snap-in guides for one reason or another are sometimes very difficult to snap into place. It's almost as if something wasn't machined right on either the guides or the jig itself. I thought there was some sawdust or chips stuck in the guide holders, but still have the issue even after using compressed air to clean it out.

    If I were to do it over, I would have gone with the 24" Leigh jig. I thought that I would have never needed such a big jig, but there have been a few instances where I changed a design because I didn't have the extra 8" of jig.

    Good luck with your jig purchase.

  14. #14
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    hmm no mention of pc's 4212? It seems like a good usable jig at a fair price.

    Joe

    or did i miss it.

  15. #15
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    "The boxmakers dovetail jig" Cut through dovetails on a table mounted router! http://www.gifkins.com.au/ ~ well worth a look at!
    Tony Ward

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