Dovetails on the Leigh D4R jig #2: Through dovetails

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Blog entry by Al Navas posted 05-24-2008 02:01 PM 940 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Start of a new series - the Leigh D4R dovetail jig Part 2 of Dovetails on the Leigh D4R jig series Part 3: Half-blind dovetails »

This episode shows in detail the procedures to make Through dovetails on the Leigh D4R jig.

The steps are very simple:

1. Arrange the guide pin spacing
2. Route the tails using a suitable dovetail router bit
3. Route the pins using the matching straight router bit

The variable pin spacing makes the D4R a very versatile dovetail jig, allowing an infinite arrangement of dovetail spacing. In addition, this capability also allows setting half pins near the edge of the boards, which I find a neat feature.

As many of you know already, I love to make boxes – and the predecessor to the D4R, the D4, is my go-to dovetail jig, exclusively.

The two episodes that follow will show the procedures to make half-blind dovetails and sliding dovetails.

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

3 comments so far

View stanley2's profile


335 posts in 3214 days

#1 posted 05-24-2008 04:41 PM

Al – just watched the video and it has sent me back to my D4 – I’ve been routing left to right and noticed that the routing is right to left – now I have to compare to see what happens with tear-out. Interesting!

-- Phil in British Columbia

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3241 days

#2 posted 05-25-2008 05:53 PM

I made it through this one as well. The video makes the process seem pretty straight forward for through dovetails.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Al Navas's profile

Al Navas

305 posts in 3294 days

#3 posted 05-25-2008 07:43 PM


I know what you mean. For me, when cutting the tails, it works best if I make a very light first climb cut (that is, right-to-left), just touching the work piece. THEN I always go left-to-right in several passes, until I get through the entire work piece. This way, you will always have the wood supported properly when it counts, as when the bit exits on the back side.

For cutting the pins, which is done with the straight bit, you have a much more forgiving condition, and you can go right-to-left, as shown in the video, without much fear of tear-out.


It IS a pretty straight-forward process. The one thing to remember, when first making sure you get to a perfect fit, is to start off with pins that do NOT fit in the pin sockets (that is, the tails board); then you sneak up on the best fit by moving the finger assembly away from you a little bit at a time. In the case of the D4 and the D4R jigs, every division on the guide is exactly 0.005”. AND you can reliably estimate visually at least five settings in between the lines, thus giving you in effect the capability to make adjustments as small as 0.001”, until you get the perfect fit.

The first time you go through this is the most time-consuming. But, if you keep good records of router bits used, plus the thickness of the work pieces, you can get back to the same settings in less than two minutes, even if several months have gone by! I make it a practice to also keep the pieces that gave me that “best fit”, which I use as templates to set the router bit depth.

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

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