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My Dovetail Jig Buying Journey #2: The Last 2 Weeks - Incra Arrives!

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Blog entry by JustJoe posted 343 days ago 1336 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: The first 25 Years. Part 2 of My Dovetail Jig Buying Journey series no next part

The Incra LS-Positioner Super System in all its glory:

As I said in part 1, the Incra Jig is the culmination (I hope) of a 25 year search. I think that it, along with my Leigh Jig, will finally solve all my joinery needs. I only wish the buying process had been a bit less stressfull.

The Incra LS-Positioner Super System costs around $389 + tax and shipping. I’m at the point now where I only buy tools with money made from selling tools and I haven’t sold a lot of tools lately so I only had $350 in the tool-fund. (shameless plug here: Go to joesusedtools.com and buy some of my tools so I can buy more tools! There are 2 dovetail jigs there right now….) Then I noticed on Amazon that they had one – only one – used Incra Jig and it was being sold by Amazon, not an affiliate. It was $359 and with free shipping + tax it came to $381. That was close enough for me to put $31 of my retirement check into the tool fund, and a $31 IOU into my wallet. I placed the order and waited. And waited. And waited. A week later it hadn’t shipped yet. So I sent a rather polite letter to Amazon that said something like “Hey dimwits where’s my %#%^ jig???” They promptly responded two days later with an apology and said that since I was so polite and such a loyal customer (I’ve made three purchases from Amazon in 3 years) that they had upgraded my free-shipping to free 1-day shipping! Well that made me so happy I went out and spent the night tweaking my Bench-Dog router table. I made a bigger top and took the Jessem router lift from the tablesaw extension and put it on the bench-dog table.

Four days later FEDEX completed my 1-day shipping and I had the Incra Jig! Life was good. I rushed out to the workshop and started assembling. The jig is very well made and comes almost completely assembled so it was just a matter of bolting it to the table and then re-assembling everything the previous owner had taken apart when he tried to fit it in the box to send back to Amazon. That was the only confusing part because the instructions said “this part is already assembled. DO NOT TAKE THE SCREWS OFF. Insert the screws into the tabs…” And of course the scrwes had been taken off and there were no tabs, but I finally figured it out. I was missing a 1/4×20 hex head bolt just under 2”. All I had in the shop were 1” bolts so I made the 12 mile trip to ACE, bought a bolt, drove 12 miles back and got it put together. Then I reached in the box for the last and most important piece, the right-angle fixture.

IT WASN’T THERE. I checked the box, the table, the floor, retraced my steps from the workshop to the driveway and there is no right-angle fixture. Now I knew it was used, but the website said they checked it for completeness and usability. So I got back on the phone to Amazon for another “polite” discussion. They offered to send me a return label, or give me a 20% discount. I didn’t want to return it because of the time already invested, and 20% refund was no good if it left me with $300 in useless pieces of metal so I told them to wait while I contacted Incra. I checked Incra’s website and didn’t see any place to buy parts, but then I googled them again and it turns out they have two websites and the 2nd one does.
So I went back to Amazon and said “show me the money”. This time they were prompt and within 12 hours I had an email saying they’d refunded $112 (31%?) so I was starting to feel better and thought this might actually work.

Refund in hand, I went to the Incra website and put the jumbo right-angle fence in my cart, filled out all my personal data and hit the big BUY button.

Gateway Error. Try Again. (The computer is mocking me now.) I tried again. “Gateway Error. If it Persists, please contact us.” Well you bet your sweet patootie I will. I looked up their toll-free number and started dialing. Nobody home. I got one voice-mail after another. (It turns out there aren’t that many people in the company – I think I heard four different names). I checked the times on the computer and it said they should be there by now. So I tried again, more voice-mail.

At this point I had zero patience left so I sent another very polite email:

Dear #%#$^#^. I need a #$%^ part. Your website is broke and nobody is answering the phone. Are you even in business??. (It might have been a bit ruder than that, but I meant it in the nicest way.)

Right after I hit send, I decided to call a 3rd time and leave a few choice words on the voice-mail. Of course Neil picked up on the second ring. It turned out their payment processor was down online and on his end. He apologized and said he’d respond to my email as soon as it was up. So feeling a wee bit guilty for going off the deep-end I thanked him and sat back to wait for the email. It came a couple of hours later and I purchased the missing parts. The fastest shipping they offered was UPS 2nd day so I took that. Total with shipping was just under $80. That meant that with the refund from Amazon the total price for my jig would be $349 (we won’t count the gallon of gas and .55 for the 1/4-20 bolt) and my tool-fund was now $1 in the black!

Before the end of the day I also received a couple more emails from Incra. It’s a small company – I got one from Neil who I think is the main sales manager and chief engineer, and one from another guy who I think is the CEO and the head shipping clerk. Both said they were glad my purchase had gone through and if I needed any help to just call or email and they’d be happy to assist. They really are a good company with great products and I feel bad for losing my cool with them. Really – some of my blog may be a bit tongue-in-cheek and I may exaggerate a little bit for effect, but not here – these guys put out great products. I recommend them to anyone. Thanks Neil!

The parts arrived Friday. My normal UPS guy must have been off because I didn’t recognize the one that showed up at 8:15 in the evening. I live off the beaten path and I imagine he had a bit of trouble finding me. Saturday morning I assembled the jig and started playing with it. I had to dig through my router bits to find some that were actually the advertised size – most of my 1/4” bits were closer to .240” but I finally found one that measured .249 and life was good. The jig works perfect when the router bit is the right size. If it’s not, you have to adjust it with a micro-adjust dial before you get great results. I’m looking for easy so I will dig through every bit I have and find the ones that are closest to their stated size. This jig does box joints, dovetails (half and thru) double dovetails, double-double and more. I’m really stoked, I think it’s the last jig I’ll ever have to buy. It’s all aluminum except for two small nylong screws and the plastic templates. I sucked up two of the templates with the shop-vac. I thought they’d be mangled but when I pulled them out they were just as good as new – they aren’t flimsy little piecs that will tear apart just when needed the most. The jig also came with the add-on “Projects and Techniques” book. It’s stamped “Discard” but they threw it in there (along with five copies of the instructions and the correct oversized instructional booklet) so I’ve got a whole lot of joinery options to try out now.

Yep, the last jig I’ll ever buy. Unless of course Akeda ever decides to get their act together and start producing jigs again….

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2 comments so far

View Handtooler's profile

Handtooler

1012 posts in 634 days


#1 posted 343 days ago

Great two part history of “The Dovetail Joinery Jig Journey”! So glad your sojourn is temporarily finished with you being sedated in a haven of dovetail dust redsidue. Now let’s see those “mini-dovetailed” boxes you are so anxious to accomplish. Good Luck in your future endeavers.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343 bassboy40@msn.com

View JustJoe's profile

JustJoe

1554 posts in 541 days


#2 posted 342 days ago

Thanks! I prefer hand tools for a lot of things, but when it comes to the joinery I like to crank it out and get it done. I’m still playing with the jig to get a feel for it – going through the scrap piles to make little boxes to hold bits and stuff for the workshop. Here are two pics. The 1/2” box joints are in wood 1/2” thick and didn’t follow any of the templates in the jig – but it was too easy to figure out what stops to use. I’ve got a couple boxes glued up today that took about 15 minutes each. The 2nd shot is through-dovetails in 3/16” thick wood. That’s smaller than I’ll be doing (I wanted to be able to do 3/8-1/2) but it’s nice to know I can get down that small. Spacing looks ridiculous because I just grabbed some thin scraps of what might have been an old cigar box, a bit, and the first template I saw.

-- This Ad Space For Sale! Your Ad Here! Reach a targeted audience! Affordable Rates, easy financing! Contact an ad represenative today at JustJoe's Advertising Consortium.

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