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Router and Jig advice needed - novice alert!

3447 Views 17 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Grandpa Sawdust
Hello all, longtime listener frist time caller.

I'm about to purchase a Porter Cable dovetail jig, probably the 4216. Although I've never used a router before I'm pretty handy and have done plenty of brutal production carpentry.
So my questions are -

1. Is this a good purchase?
2. What router should I get with this and are there any good combo deals?
3. I'm making large, deep bookcases for my records, will this jig be no good for sides slightly longer than 12"s?
4. Would anone like to come and build these things for me.

Ok, the last one was a joke, but I'd appreciated any and all replies.
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Welcome Slacky. I used a Leigh in my jig days and didn't like all the test cuts necessary with it. Neve had a 4216 so I can't help ya on it. Show us pictures when you get started?
I have always

been a Keller Dove Tail Jig man. They sell a 16" dovetail jig set for about $250 which includes 2 router bits and can be used on any length of material by simply moving the jig and reclamping. I think they might have a video on their website. If they do, and you watch it, and you say that looks too easy, it really is.

I have one of these, its a nice little jig. I ended up moving to a larger jig, but I made a lot of drawers with the PC, and still break it out from time to time. To answer your questions,

1. Is this a good purchase?

yes, I have had alot of luck with this tool. Unless your doing very deep drawers. You can do full dovetails, half blinds, box joints etc.

2. What router should I get with this and are there any good combo deals?

Doesn't matter as long as it can utilize a collar set, you will need it.

3. I'm making large, deep bookcases for my records, will this jig be no good for sides slightly longer than 12"s?

If its a 12" jig then 12" is about as DEEP as you can go. You can go as LONG as you wish.

4. Would anyone like to come and build these things for me.

LOL now where's the fun in that.

PC does make a 16" jig... I think. Something to consider if the depth limitation is an issue. You will like these tools, they are easy to use, and produce great results. If you decide to buy it and get a little confused, drop me an IM and Ill give you my phone number.

Good luck, and welcome.

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Wow, thanks for the advice and the warm welcome.

So as I understand it I could dovetail any length of wood but only 12" sliding dovetails?

Thanks for the tips on the other jigs but I think I'll stick with the PC just based on price, I can always upgrade if I really need to.
I've looked at jigs in the past but never really needed one so haven't bought yet. However, in researching it, I came across the woodrat as an alternative to a traditional dovetail jig. It more expensive but you get a lot more functionality from it. I don't know if it would be better or not. The only dovetails I've ever done were hand cut. Does anyone own a woodrat? Does it do what it says in the ads?
Hello do not own a woodrat and this is the frist time i have ever heard of one. I do not own a dovetail jig eather the reason i enjoy cuting dovetails by hand i think it ads to the value of your project. Unless you are doing mass production you do not need those jig but i do not know how much work you plan on doing .
I had the earlier version of the 4216 jig for 6 years and it turned out decent dovetails. Last year I swapped it for the heavy cast model 5116 and this one is far superior. It has options to cut different space dovetails while the 4216 may not have that feature. The heavy cast design adds bulk and stability and any time you work with machinery bulk is usually better. I have 5 routers, 3 of them are PC 6900 series. I think this is the most popular router made. You usually can't go wrong with PC. I have both handle types but prefer the D handle design because of the easy trigger operation to turn it off and on. I think that model is 6902. Check eBay and you'll find some good deals on used ones. I bought 2 that way. If you are new at this you can't go wrong with either of these purchases. Incidentally the 5116 jig came with a great instructional video that not only helped me learn the ways to use the jig but it also had some very useful shop tips!
Gotta go make some sawdust.
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Hello toolsman Im not saying i am against doveltail jigs they have there place in wood working. I have a friend who has a jig and i have used it a couple of times an it works ok . I perfer cutting doveltails by hand if i get to the point were i am doing a lot of dovetails then i will probley by one but for now i am going to keep doing what i am doing. For the emont of dovetails i cut it is not worth it for me to by one by the time i have thing setup i could of had it cut by hand. Thank you
Woodboxs, you are a better man than I!! I don't have the patience or skill to cut those fine dovetail joints by hand. When they are done right they are a thing of beauty and the spacing and size can be anything you like. I, however, fall under the umbrella of Norm Abrams and let the machines do the work. There's only so many hours left and I love the smell of sawdust.
Hello toolsman to let you know i am not the most patience man eather but when i cut dovetails by hand i some times work off some of my anger but not always there are times when i am not in the mood for somthing to go wroung. The way i see it the real wood working is when you combined hand skill with machinery. I also have machinery as well some of it is older from late 50's eraly 60's but it still works good an gets the job done. Some of that equipment is better than the new ones. the newreones you have to pay big money to get real good euipment today or you will end up with junk. thank you
The PC jig is OK but the best is a "Leigh" which I have.

You should consider two PC routers so you can have one with a dovetail pit and one with a straight bit. If you always use 3/4" wood you never have to change the set up'
Thanks for all the advice.
I got the PC 4212 jig for 169 with free shipping from Amazon.
I also got a refurbished Porter-Cable 694VK 1-3/4 HP Variable Speed Router with a fixed base and plunge base and a couple of free bits for 149 bucks + 8 shipping which I thought was a bargain.
Just need to find some decent wood now.
Gramps, The Leigh jig is, no doubt, the finest most versatile jig out there. You can make virtually any arrangement of dovetails and it will look like the diverse spacing that you can achieve with handcuts! The only drawback is the set up time but the results are well worth the time spent. I figured that a novice just starting with dovetails would be wise to start with the easier PC jigs. Slacky, see if you can get a copy of the PC users manual, lots of good tips in it.:thumbsup:
router jigs

hello slacky it is good you bought a router . you should get some cheap wood to pratice with frist then buy some good wood maybe red mahagony or dark walnut i like both my self i like the walnut more it finshs nice. as for dovetails i perfer to hand cut them and it is not as hard as it looks you just have to practice an keep your chiesals sharp.There is and intersting artical in a special edtion of fine wood working called building furniture the best of fine wood working. I wish you luck an have fun with the router.
Router Jigs


I agree with Slacky---get some scrap wood and practice. My first jig was a Harbour Freight jig and it worked ok after some practice. With a fixed spacing jig like the PC you will need to adjust your project size to accomidate the jig spacing. When I first started I made several practice drawer box's from scrap pallet wood. I learned the size limitations and the first real project I built I adjusted the size based on the drawer box sizes I could make. I completed several projects with the jig and a single router.

When you find a deal on a second router it will increase your speed dramitacly if you have one set up with a dovetail bit and the second with a straight bit.

Like Slacky I cut a lot of hand cut dovetails----I took a "Woodcraft Store" $60 one day course and with practice I can produce dovetails by hand.


Grandpa Sawdust
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Hi Slacky

Just thought I would mention, in case you haven't already found it, that Porter cable has a good site for downloading instructions for cutting dovetails with their jigs. Just try Porter Cable with your search. That's how I found it.

Have fun, and welcome to the forum.

New Pc Jig

I just read that Porter Cable is introducing a new jig that provides variable pin/tail spacing like the Leigh. May be worth waiting for the new version.
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