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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm new to this forum and I am looking to buy a dovetail jig (for making drawers). I want to spend around $200. I understand Leigh and Akeda are top of the line models from what I have read ($500). Do any models in my price range have adjustable settings for the guides? Also, where is the best place to purchase?

Thanks for the help.

glg
 

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I have bought cheap models in the past, (rockler, and craftsman) and was never happy with the accuracy. If you want to buy one, spend the money and get a leigh or porter cable omnijig and you'll never have to buy another one again.

You could also do what I have just started doing, and get a dovetail saw, and some chisels, and go for it oldschool. There is much more satisfaction in a handcut dovetail, than the machine made look of a basic router jig dovetail.
 

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I have heard good things about the PC models available at Lowe's, etc. The PC omnijig is amazing. I am going to buy one when I save up enough. I think it is worth it in the long run, they last forever with care.
Bobby
 

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I've never used a jig, so I can't offer any advice there, but I'm with "Julian the Woodnut." I cut all my dovetails by hand and it's much more creative and satisfying. Start with Franz Klaus's excellent video, "How to Dovetail a Drawer" on Amazon for less than $20. He's amazing. After that there are any number of DVDs with instructions on making a variety of dovetails, including half-blind dovetails for drawer fronts. You could get all the tools and a couple of videos for under $100 and you'd be able to make fine dovetails anytime, anywhere.

Kevin H.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
How long does it take to do a half-blind dovetail (by hand) on a drawer say 6" deep? Also, what kind of learning curve are we talking about. I'm building a built-in cabinet and it will have 10 drawers.

Thanks for everyones input.

glg
 

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Well, there is certainly a learning curve to doing dovetails by hand. I did a seven drawer lingerie chest with three different drawer heights. It took me a couple of weekends to cut all the dovetails.

I'm still refining my skill, but I certainly enjoy cutting the dovetails and I get a tremendous sense of satisfaction when they are finished.

You would definitely want to practice on some scrap ends to polish your technique.

If time is critical, or you expect to be doing production quantities, then maybe a jig is the way to go.

Let us know what you decide.

Kevin H.
 

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Just so you know...

There are basically 2 types of dovetail jigs. The cheaper ones that only cut half-blind dovetails as for drawers. The more expensive ones that will cut both through and half-blind DT's. When looking at the lower end jigs, you can get them for as little as $100.00 or so. I have 3 Jets set up for 3 sizes of DT's bought on sale for $30.00 each. The set-up on these is a PITA, depth of cut being the tricky part, but once set they will repeat just fine. The more expensive jigs, $500.00 or more are a dream to use according to reviews, all of which which you will find on U-Tube. Watch the videos and then decide your useage requiremnts. :thumbsup: bill
FYI the site www.routerforums.com will have a ton of info on DT jigs, since it is a router operation.
 

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I have an old Craftsman fixed HB jig that worked but was had drawbacks. You have to plan your drawer height to match your jig layout capabilities. I broke down and bought the Leigh D4R a few years ago and have never regreted that decision. While it has a steep learning curve and requires specific bits the joints it makes are great and you can adjust to any drawer height as well as pick the number of pins/tails on a joint.
 

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I've had the Akeda DC16 for about four years, and it is absolutely awesome. It is built like a tank, and makes dovetailing exceptionally easy, accurate and repeatable. If you're doing 10 drawers, you'll need a jig, otherwise, it will take forever to do them by hand, especially with the learning curve. I contemplated getting a cheaper jig like the Rockler or Craftsman, but the reviews weren't good. Unfortunately, any dovetail jig worth having is going to be noticeably over $200. Cheaper ones will be more frustrating than they're worth. The only downside to the Akeda is that it limits your dovetails to 1/8" increments, where as the omnijig and the Leigh have no such minimum increments to the width and spacing.
 

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GLG,
One more thought for the cheaper jigs. I have one that is basically the same one Woodcraft sells under their 'wood river' house brand. You can buy them for around 50-60.00. It came with decent instructions. If you follow the instructions, after a few practice cuts to zero in the depth, it is very consistent. I use it specifically for cabinet drawers. If that's all you are going to do, I would recommend it. You can still learn to hand cut some for your furniture projects later. Don't get me wrong, I would love to have the PC or one of the other high zoot setups, but I don't use it often enough to want one that bad. Just my .02
Mike Hawkins;)
 

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If you haven't already purchased one you have to seriously consider the OMNIJIG. Go to woodcraft and ask for a demo. I work at woodcraft and have seen the set up in action. It's basically dummy proof after you follow a pretty simple initial setup. You really can't go wrong with this jig. It will last you the rest of your life if taken care of. It's a tank. :thumbsup:
Please please please consider it before the leigh...
 

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...the omnijig and the Leigh have no minimum increments to the width and spacing.
I must be doing something wrong with my Leigh jig, because I haven't figured out how to get the very small pins that I see on hand-cut projects. Isn't the minimum pin size limited to the size of the dovetail bit?

On 3.5" drawers, to get 3 pins, I have had very limited choices, with the way I've been setting up the jig.
 

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I must be doing something wrong with my Leigh jig, because I haven't figured out how to get the very small pins that I see on hand-cut projects. Isn't the minimum pin size limited to the size of the dovetail bit?

On 3.5" drawers, to get 3 pins, I have had very limited choices, with the way I've been setting up the jig.
Yes, you will be limited by the size of the bit, so on a small drawer, there will be limitations. What I meant was that you can slide the guide fingers freely to the left and right on the Leigh to start your pins wherever you want. With the Akeda, the guide fingers snap into a track, and the track only allows the guides to snap on in 1/8" increments to the left and right.
 

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Although not a "dovetail" jig per se, our Kehoe dovetail spline jig is substantially under $200 and is a quality tool. The versatility inherent in the system allows for essentially unlimited layout, bit size, and many other features as well.

We have several cabinet shops who use our jig for production drawer making.
 
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