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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Any of you guys use an OMNI Jig? Porter Cable dovetail machine? I don't want to spend the bucks for Leigh (?) adjustable jig, and I see the Omni's go for $150 on ebay quite often...16 inch variety. I do not want an adjustable jig, but I want one that is quick, easy, and holds both boards at the same time...I think this means it cuts tails and pins at the same time. Thoughts?
 

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I use the Reliant jig myself. It does the tails and pins at the same time and has a cam style hold down for the boards. It was pretty cheap, $70. Took a while to set it up well but now that it is it works fine. The best thing you can do is get a dedicated router for the setup and never break it down. Saves hours in setup time.:thumbsup:
 

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I've used the PC one and it's a good rugged one with a fast clamp. I would recommend that one - though I've never used a reliant one. I've used old Craftsmen ones in the past and they were pretty flimsey and slower than the PC.

When you're doing narrow drawers, you'll probably want to put a block under the clamps on the empty side an eighth or sixteenth less in thickness than your drawer stock.

Like Leo said, get a cheap router and leave it set up , and wear glasses for your first setup. You may need to run the dovetail bit up so far into the bushing that it cuts some of the inside of the bushing. Course now you know about it, you could always grind the bushing down a little lower before you start. Don't worry about it in any event - that part of the bit won't be doing any of the cutting anyhow.:no:

If you're getting one off ebay - make sure it doesn't have any router bites out of the teeth.

Regards,
Jimc
 

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I suggest using the jig God gave you!
I know you don't want to hear this, but the worst thing you can do is buy a jig. Most of us tell ourselves "I'll just use the jig until I learn to cut them by hand, since it will takes years to master.." HOGWASH! :yes:

All it takes is the willingness to spend a few minutes a day for several times a week. This time of year with the nasty weather coming up you could be cutting NICE, TIGHT, ACCURATE dovetails before winter is out.
Their is a myth thta it takes years to be able to do this. That is simply a myth. Now granted, there are some of us who are just plain clumsy and mechanically incapable of training our brain to do it, but I assert this is a teeny tiny minority.

Anyone such as yourself who has worked with his hands all his life can accomplish this EXTREMELY GRATIFYING feat. Yes you will never get as fast as a jig, but man you talk about a stress reliever :thumbsup: And the satisfaction that comes when your family/friends finally believe you when you answer "Yes really! I really did cut those by hand!"

Now, if you INSIST on being half a woodworker and buy a jig, I was unaware of any jig that will allow you to clamp both boards to the jig and cut them at the same time as mentioned abouve. It wouldn't speed things up that much in my mind because you must realize that you use a straight bit to cut the pins and a tapered bit to cut the tails, so a bit change is always involved anyway. I don't know if the Reliant avoids this somehow but I can't imagine how.

Before I saw the light and learned to cut by hand I owned a Leigh, that I bought like in '92ish so I guess it was a D3? Fortunately it got stolen.
Now I do own one jig that cuts "tapered dovetail splines" which is so cool I can't resist using it. I suppose it would be possible to learn how to cut these by hand but it would take a Zen Woodworking Monk years to master. okay maybe months of constant practice, but you can learn acceptable traditional dovetails in weeks if you practice everyday.

"Concentrate Grasshoppa ... when you can master the tapered dovetail spline, it will be time for you to go......... Aummmmmm....... Aummmmmmm.......
 

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Bois D' Arc Boy, I have the Relient jig and it indeed cuts the tails and pins at the same time, same as many jigs do. 4 passes and you have a drawer. It's great that you find the time to do the dovetails the right way, by hand. But when you need to do 23 drawers and half of them are 8" tall a little speed is required, especially with the time constraints that producing a kitchen usually entails. The reason you can't see how the jig cuts both pieces at the same time is because you are doing a through dovetail and the jig does a half blind dovetail. After the stock is milled to the correct thickness and sized it takes about 5-8 minutes to do all four sides and have the drawer ready for assy. I have never spent the time to learn how to do them by hand. Maybe when I retire and don't need to make money anymore.:thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have cut them by hand...long time back, and promised myself that a jig will be how I do it this time around....kind of like digging a ditch by hand or with my ditch witch....of course, both ways have merrit!
 

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Sorry Leo i didn't stop to consider someone here was making their living woodworking. I gguess I came across a little pompous, sorry!
I see your point. If I was making my living cutting production dovetails obviously I would want a jig, if not a CNC router!
Of course if one wants to aatempt his living at the high end/commission furniture market then you have to master handcut dovetails but for cabinetry market you can't compete without high production.

Now as for you joasis you are just being plain lazy. :icon_wink:
 

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Just a hobbiest...

I have a PC4212, and have had good luck with it...though I'm just learning DTs. I have a lot of box and drawer projects and think it will be a good investment in my hobby.



Greg
 

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Well, I'll buck the trend here -- I have a Leigh jig and love it. Yup, it was pricey, but on my projects I find having different sized dovetails adds to the character of the piece. Plus it works extremely well. Yes, I read the post about hand cutting your own, but the saying I have in my shop is "If I have to use hand tools, I build something else." I'm just terrible with hand tools, and readily admit it, so I find other ways to make my pieces.
 
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I have a PC 24" jig, and it works great. However, if I were to do it again, I would get a 12" or 16" PC. The 24" takes up a lot of room and is more expensive. I will never use all of the 24 inches.
 

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Bois,

When you clamp or screw the jig to a bench, the front of it overhangs enough so that the sides of the drawers can be loaded and clamped into the jig vertically. The fronts and backs of the drawers load horizontally, and butt the sides. You have to insure that the end grain of the sides sticks up to be is exactly flush with the inside face of the front or back.

The front (or back) is offset from the side by half a pin width, and you rout through both at the same time, following the fingers on the jig. So you are cutting completely through the sides (vertical) but leaving a rounded edge on what will become the inside of the side.

You are at the same time creating basically a "stopped" french dovetail with a rounded end (corresponding to the angle of the router bit) going part way through the thickness of the fronts and backs of the drawer, and stopped by the jig at exactly the point necessary so that when the sides are pounded into the fronts and backs, the outsides of all are flush.

Pbaker,

I agree with you that a PC jig bigger than 12" is a waste of money, and more of a pain than it's worth, unless you are using a Leigh to simulate hand dovetails. For the type of cabinets joasis is building, 12" is plenty.
And as far as making money goes - the only time it pays to make your own finger dovetailed drawer boxes is if you do not have time to buy them already dovetailed and prefinished, and are only doing a few.

Joasis,
I think you will get real tired of your jig in a very short time. Dovetailing drawers makes the most obnoxious screeching tools we own - routers- schreech about twenty times worse than they do on any other job. The racket is immune to the influence of ear muffs, and having an apprentice do it is even worse unless you send him to a different county.

Hand cutting dovetails will begin to look more and more appealing the more time you spend in front of that jig.

By the way, I will be selling surplus Russian astronaut helmets soon that would be a bargain at half the price. Just something to keep in mind.

Have fun.

jimc
 

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I suggest using the jig God gave you!
I know you don't want to hear this, but the worst thing you can do is buy a jig. Most of us tell ourselves "I'll just use the jig until I learn to cut them by hand, since it will takes years to master.." HOGWASH! :yes:

All it takes is the willingness to spend a few minutes a day for several times a week. This time of year with the nasty weather coming up you could be cutting NICE, TIGHT, ACCURATE dovetails before winter is out.
Their is a myth thta it takes years to be able to do this. That is simply a myth. Now granted, there are some of us who are just plain clumsy and mechanically incapable of training our brain to do it, but I assert this is a teeny tiny minority.

Anyone such as yourself who has worked with his hands all his life can accomplish this EXTREMELY GRATIFYING feat. Yes you will never get as fast as a jig, but man you talk about a stress reliever :thumbsup: And the satisfaction that comes when your family/friends finally believe you when you answer "Yes really! I really did cut those by hand!"

Now, if you INSIST on being half a woodworker and buy a jig, I was unaware of any jig that will allow you to clamp both boards to the jig and cut them at the same time as mentioned abouve. It wouldn't speed things up that much in my mind because you must realize that you use a straight bit to cut the pins and a tapered bit to cut the tails, so a bit change is always involved anyway. I don't know if the Reliant avoids this somehow but I can't imagine how.

Before I saw the light and learned to cut by hand I owned a Leigh, that I bought like in '92ish so I guess it was a D3? Fortunately it got stolen.
Now I do own one jig that cuts "tapered dovetail splines" which is so cool I can't resist using it. I suppose it would be possible to learn how to cut these by hand but it would take a Zen Woodworking Monk years to master. okay maybe months of constant practice, but you can learn acceptable traditional dovetails in weeks if you practice everyday.

"Concentrate Grasshoppa ... when you can master the tapered dovetail spline, it will be time for you to go......... Aummmmmm....... Aummmmmmm.......
Do you mind if I give my customers your phone number so you can espouse to them how wonderful it will be when I bill them for the 100 hours I spent cutting hand cut dovetails on their kitchen/entertainment unit drawers instead of ten hours for the same amount of machine cuts?:laughing:
 

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Do you mind if I give my customers your phone number so you can espouse to them how wonderful it will be when I bill them for the 100 hours I spent cutting hand cut dovetails on their kitchen/entertainment unit drawers instead of ten hours for the same amount of machine cuts?:laughing:
I don't know what point you are trying to make. Did you also read my response to Leo?
It's almost as if some woodworkers have an axe to grind against other woodworkers who enjoy cutting them by hand. I never thought I would basically get attacked for merely extolling the virtues of hand cut dovetails. :blink:

I will continue to cut them by hand, and i will not apologize for it. Have fun with your mass-produced, character-lacking, robotic results. I won't critisize you for it! :no: :laughing:
 

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Now on to more important matters. Jay, FW Issue 187 )Dec 2006)tested 15 dovetail jigs. For what it is worth, the Leigh D4R got the Author's Choice Best Overall and the Porter Cable 4212 got Author's Choice Best Value. Remember this is one mans opinion.
 

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Well here it goes.

Kevin, I love to hand cut my dovetails but depending on the project at hand I dont hesitate to pull out the awesome D4 Leigh jig.

I used the jig for all the drawers in the house we sold. Time was a constraint so I whipped out the drawers in one day. Once the kitchen was done we sold the place! :thumbsup:

The new owners walked through and our realter said the fact the drawers were made the old fasion way (dovetails) they felt confident in all the other wood work we did to the place, which was floors, baseboards, rosets, crown moulding etc. Little did they know a machine cut those old fasion dovetails. :yes:
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Like all things I do that aren't the best approach, I bought a 16 inch Omni jig (PC), and then someone listed another 24 inch with all the templates...so before this is over, i will have 2 jigs, maybe. You guys that use the Porter Cable jigs have a recommended router bit type or style?
 

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I do not want an adjustable jig, but I want one that is quick, easy, and holds both boards at the same time...I think this means it cuts tails and pins at the same time. Thoughts?
When you come down here we are going to make something for a Christmas present for your wife, or at least get it started good while the women are away spending your money in town :)laughing: ). We are going to use the dovetail spline jig. I'm not saying it will replace a dovetail jig for everyone because it doesn't have the same look - but it's the only jig I use. I am also going to inspect your truck before you leave to make sure my spline jig didn't somehow "fall" into your truck :shifty: because you are going to want one. :yes:
 
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