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What's the best dovetail jig for the money?

56762 Views 23 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  ryan50hrl
For many years I have been using a Craftsman dovetail jig. I don't do a lot of dovetails and it was just 'ok'. I'm looking to buy a new dovetail jig and I'm considering the Porter-Cable 4212. I'd like to get a Leigh but seem to be very expensive. Any thoughts, folks?

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The thing about the Leigh is that it is infinitely adjustable. this means you can make the dovetails slightly uneven to look like you spent hours by hand.
I really like this one from MLCS for $90.00
It's just a aluminum template you fasten to a wood block.
It makes through dovetails and is adjustable.
Very simple.

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Leigh Jig

I too was looking for a dovetail jig. Our local Woodcrafter store did a class on Leigh jigs. The instructor had the routers set up for the through dovetail and the blind dovetail. In the store this looked very easy and the results were very good. Now for real life... I bought a 24" Leight jig and took it home and have not cut a passable blind dovetail to date. The set up is mind numbing, adjustment after adjustment. I didn't give up, I went to the website and watched them cut the same type of blind dovetail. They made it look so simple a chimp could do it! I went back to the shop and chewed up some more wood still with the same results. I guess I need that guy in the Leigh website to spend the afternoon with me and get me straighten out.

I have now bought a Freud router bit set to build drawers, I was almost to the point of using 16d nails to assemble drawer side and fronts. So there is my experience, I had thought of the Keller jig they also make that look like child's play on their website.

Good luck, and have plenty of patience!!!!
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Thanks, folks! Some good feedback.
Yo Rocky, I purchased the PC 4212 about 6 months ago and have been very pleased with it. Now it's no Leigh Jig but for the money it really is a good bang for the buck. If you're a first timer with dovetails then I would suggest the PC b/c it is a really easy jig to set up and use. Just take your time with whatever you do purchase and I'm sure the end result will be great.
Nice work, Jim. I like the simple jig, and also notice you put some electrical tape on your router cord in case you nick it with the router. Very clever! :laughing:
I splurged and went for the 12 inch Leigh. I never make dovetails wider than 12 inches. Thanks for all the feedback, folks.

I too have the porter cable jig. I bought if a few years ago and use it occasionally to make some drawer boxes. It is very simple. The instruction manual is only about 10 or 12 pages, small ones at that, and half of it is the initial setup. The basic instructions are easy to follow and after doing the initial setup which really only involves two pieces that need to be offset on the jig, you can whip out a drawer box in about five minutes. It cuts both sides of one corner at the same time. The whole trick with probably any of these jigs is labeling both sides of each corner in such a manner that you don't mix up the pieces, especially if you already have the dado cut in for the drawer bottom. They are a lot of fun to use and turn out some pretty nice, strong joints. good luck,
Mike Hawkins:yes:
This is a bit late for Rocky. I bought a 24inch Leigh jig last year. Using the CD I set the thing up quite quickly and cut dovetails on drawers in a Kitchen I made for a client. I have used it with great success since on an Arts and Crafts style sideboard. Going on a Course is well worthwhile. In the UK Brimarc do a brilliant course run by David Whiteside. Joe Allen Joinery
Hi Guys, I'm new to this forum so you'll have to bear with me. I bought a General/Samona dovetail jig and like some of you the results have been frustrating and full of expletives.

I went online and searched dovetail jigs and came up with a list a mile long. One of the things I discovered is that a lot of the jigs are functionally identical so I downloaded and read manuals. Their setup was identical, only a few features were different one to the next. Porter Cable was one of the better manuals albeit the jig was substantially more expensive than the functionally identical General/Samona/ShopFox.

One of the things I discovered is the crucial measurement: that is the depth of the router bit. Change it 1/64th at a time! Secondly, dedicate one router to that bit, adjust it and never change it. That means if your dovetail joint is blind between 1/2" plywood and 3/8" plywood, you do the setup for that joint, label the router and never use it for anything else. If you have to do a 3/8" into 3/4", get another router. I pick up used routers in garage sales and rummage sales. Stay away from the offerings in flee markets (at least in my area - Ontario) they sit for years in the dust and dirt, only to be charged a small fortune (because they're old.)
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dovetail jig setup

Hey Allthumbs,
C'mon, have some faith in yourself. You don't need to dedicate a router to your dovetail jig. I only use my jig about once a year. They give you a depth dimension for your bit. I believe mine is 9/16". Just set your bit to the depth, make a practice joint on two scraps. If it doesn't come out flush, a small adjustment is needed. I have not had a problem duplication the setup on this jig. I use a 1 3/4 hp Milwaukee and it has a very nice and easy depth adjustment. You can do it.....the setup is half the fun. Good luck,
Mike Hawkins:smile:
I have found that using a digital miter gauge is accurate enough to get the bit depth set correctly the first time (assuming you recorded that depth the first time you got a perfect fit).
"You can do it.....the setup is half the fun. Good luck,"

I noticed how short your message was. When do we have "half the fun" before or after I tear out the other half of my hair. Besides, gimme a break. I'm trying to dream up an excuse to buy another router. Convincing my wife is not easy. You just blew a hole in my entire argument. However, I had not considered checking the depth adjustment with a micrometer. Good point. But I still want a new router!
router excuse tips

Yo Allthumbs,
Didn't know you were trying to con the ol lady into you gettin another router. Next time give us the 'wink wink' sign. You need some better excuses though. Listed are some that you can try:
1. 'Honey, these 1/2" bits don't fit my old router, it only takes 1/4".
2. 'Honey, this little router doesn't fit in my router table. I need one of these 3 1/2 hp ones that are made for it.'
3. 'How do you expect me to make all those nice projects for you with this old thing? I need this new one with the high enery fusion conigley pin.'
4. 'Honey, Bob's wife let him have four routers. Don't you love me as much as she loves him?

Let me know if any of these work. Post any pics of black eyes, cast iron skillet dents in your head, etc. LOL
Mike Hawkins:yes:
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