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Dovetail Jig #1: 75% Done

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Blog entry by Jim posted 04-22-2009 02:44 AM 2906 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Dovetail Jig series no next part

This is a dovetail jig I’m working on from some plans of an old Shop Notes Magazine.
The original plans called for Cherry but I used White Oak. I also extended the original jig an extra foot so it would be able to cut bigger pieces. It’s still only 75% done, I still have to make the template fingers, but I’m waiting on my new locking router plate and bushings before I cut the clearances and angles of the fingers.









-- -- Jim - Kokomo, Indiana



15 comments so far

View cabinetmaster's profile

cabinetmaster

10874 posts in 3019 days


#1 posted 04-22-2009 02:50 AM

Which issue of Shopnotes? I have all issues since the beginning.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View Jim's profile

Jim

145 posts in 2783 days


#2 posted 04-22-2009 02:52 AM

Issue 43, January of 1999, Pg 16

-- -- Jim - Kokomo, Indiana

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cabinetmaster

10874 posts in 3019 days


#3 posted 04-22-2009 02:57 AM

Thanks, I’ll look into building one myself.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View Jim's profile

Jim

145 posts in 2783 days


#4 posted 04-22-2009 03:11 AM

It’s real easy, not too pricey, just depends on which hard wood you use. the 1 3/4” thickness is what gets you, after I had the local mill plane it down for me I realized they had milled it an 1/8” too thin, and it messed up the middle track so I had to do some adjustments on which bolts to use. The 12-24 machine bolts are hard to find (I found some at True Hardware while in another town).
I also found this guy: http://www.wideopenwest.com/~careysherrill/dovetail.html
I actually talked to him a bit about what woods to use and such and he was real helpful.

-- -- Jim - Kokomo, Indiana

View Julian's profile

Julian

880 posts in 2986 days


#5 posted 04-22-2009 03:12 PM

I just looked up that project in shopnotes. Very cool project you have going on. What are you going to use for the fingers? I can see phenolic is the way to go since hardboard will eventually wear out or swell from humidity.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

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Jim

145 posts in 2783 days


#6 posted 04-22-2009 09:39 PM

For now, due to hoping to have a couple boxes made by Mothers Day crosses fingers I’m just going to try and do as the one guy in the link did, and use quarter sawn white oak because the local mill had some, but nobody around carries the phenolic. Plus it was a LOT cheaper for the time being haha. I almost wish I had the equipment and materials to just make them out of metal and not have to bother finding the plastic somewhere but the oak will get me through the first couple boxes I’m sure.

-- -- Jim - Kokomo, Indiana

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8523 posts in 3109 days


#7 posted 04-22-2009 09:50 PM

I have that shopnotes, definitely a cool jig to make! post more pics as you progress! should look great.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View interpim's profile

interpim

1158 posts in 2919 days


#8 posted 04-23-2009 12:11 AM

I looked into this Jig and am tempted to build one up as well… I am curious though, do you really think it is worth it for me to build this (beginner woodworker) when the costs of materials which I priced out today is going to be about $70 for just the hardware. I haven’t priced the Phenolic yet, but I can imagine it would get expensive especially if you wanted to build extra or wider fingers. Also, i don’t think the shopnotes article mentioned anything about being able to do half-blind dovetails like some of the smaller commercial jigs can do.

I may be off base on this, but I don’t know if I trust myself to create everything exactly right. Besides, how would I cut a 1/8” kerf into the keys? my thin kerf blade on my TS i think is 3/16”.

I am not trying to downplay the jig your building, I am just trying to justify it for myself since I too am in the need of a dovetail jig :)

-- San Diego, CA

View Jim's profile

Jim

145 posts in 2783 days


#9 posted 04-23-2009 01:41 AM

No offense taken, and believe me, I’ve already ran all these arguments and more through my head lol. What I found was, that for a even the lowest dovetail jig you can get, that will do full through joints (Porter Cable), was close to $200 for the jig alone. And that’s preset distances. With changeable fingers added into the pictures you’re looking into the $300+ range and those are the lower end models. The Phenolic was expensive, I won’t lie. I can’t even remember what I found it for (http://froogle.com) but I know the .05 12”x12” sheets were like $9 and that’s only a tenth of the thickness needed. And trust me, this jig is pretty forgiving when it comes to being “Exactly right”. I have a new Craftsman Professional Table Saw that I’m still trying to fine tune just to get 98% perfect lines from, and the way this jig sets up, the materials forgive small errors.

Like I mentioned earlier, the mill I go to actually planed it down an 1/8” thinner than I asked, so all I did was switch from a 12-24 bolt on the fingers to a 10-24, but used the 12-24 hex nuts (for now they seems to do the job, but prob won’t be my permanent solution).

As for total cost… I think I had about $30 in the hardware, $30 in the lumber (plus a bit more due to the fact that around here I couldn’t find MDF board other than 4×8’ sheets and a week later I found the mill I go to now and they sell any size needed. gr), just spent $35 on a Milescraft router plate and a set of metal bushings for my router, and a ton of wasted time for cheaping out and trying to make the jig originally in pine lol. But, in the end it’s been fun, learned a LOT about my tools, and hopefully now that I have bushings and can make the fingers, by next week I’ll be pushing out dovetail boxes in time for Mother’s Day.

As for Halfblinds on this jig, I BELIEVE that you can make them by only using the one side of the fingers. Don’t quote me on that because I’ve never made halfblinds, I’ve always tried making fulls (and failed miserably when one by hand) but if you just want a cheap halfblind jig, you can get them at Harbor Freight for $30. But they are very basic models, no frills.

If you decide in the end, this is just too much cost, time, or effort for you, there ARE other options for an easy jig. For $60-$80 you can buy spare templates that go on dovetail jigs, halfblind templates are even cheaper, and tack it onto a board and basically use it like a normal store-bought jig. Just use clamps to hold your piece against the board, route your dovetails, and assemble. The drawback being it’s a little more clunkier going this route, and the templates are preset distances (unless you shell out more for the adjustable fingers templates.) The Jigs are nice but pricey. I’m more into making everything that I can so that I can make it to fit me (i.e. making the jig as long as I want, and making the fingers any sizes I want).

If you need help or want anymore info feel free to ask. I’m hoping to have mine built by Sunday, and I’ll make sure to get more pics up.

-- -- Jim - Kokomo, Indiana

View interpim's profile

interpim

1158 posts in 2919 days


#10 posted 04-23-2009 01:54 AM

Thank you for the responses Jim

Where are you sourcing your hardware from?
I went to ACE hardware today, and priced everything out, and added it up (had time to kill) With buying the minimum of what I would need before tax cost was going to be $62.50

But, the good thing was they had everything that would be required (except for 12-24 square nuts) all they had was 10-24.

-- San Diego, CA

View Karson's profile

Karson

35035 posts in 3861 days


#11 posted 04-23-2009 02:05 AM

It’s an interesting looking jib. Keep us informed on the progress.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia karsonwm@gmail.com †

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8523 posts in 3109 days


#12 posted 04-23-2009 02:34 AM

interpim, normal tablesaw kerf is 1/8” . are you sure your thin-kerf blade is 3/16” ?!? usually they are 3/32”... my point is – that it would be possible for you to cut 1/8” slots if you wanted to.

P.S. phenolic is extremely costly material. another more practical choice would be UHMW.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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interpim

1158 posts in 2919 days


#13 posted 04-23-2009 02:35 AM

Maybe it is 3/32 LOL… Not sure why I was thinking 3/16 LOL.

-- San Diego, CA

View Jim's profile

Jim

145 posts in 2783 days


#14 posted 04-23-2009 03:32 AM

I got most of my materials at Lowe’s, and a few from Menards. I was a bit wrong on the hardware cost now that you mention it (I had to make a couple runs for the materials as I was building it and realized I was short). I know the 3/4” angle aluminum in 3’ was around $7 a piece (for some reason I only grabbed one on my first trip…) and the straight aluminum was around $3. The knobs were a killer at $2.50 a pop, some places I’ve heard sell for half that if you get them in the garden area w/the lawn mowers (I never found such a deal though). The threaded rod was $4 for a 3’ length. Springs were $.50 each, and then the odds and ends of screws were a few bucks. Maybe closer to $40 but you don’t have to make the jig 3’ long either, and you might get away cheaper w/the angle aluminum, if you got a 4’ and cut it in half.

As far as the fingers again, I’d tinkered around with the idea of trying to make them of MDF, but the more I think on it, the more I don’t think it’ll work out the best. I just see it breaking up over time without having an ending on them. And I looked it up, the cheapest 1/2” sheet of phenolic I saw was a 12”x12” for $33.45 before shipping… that would give you about 2’ of working material for fingers (if you neglect the kerf waste) which would be plenty cause the fingers they used were 1 1/2” and 3” wide. But you’re paying for a square foot of plastic that costs more than a 4×8’ sheet of 3/4” MDF!

I may do some research and see if there’s any other sort of material that could be used and not have to worry about swelling, etc. Acrylic would be alright if it didn’t flex so bad (doesn’t work great for no clearance throat plates either I’ve learned). And so much for using aluminum if we had a way to cut it right… it’s about $25 for a 6”x1’x1/2” block.

-- -- Jim - Kokomo, Indiana

View Jim's profile

Jim

145 posts in 2783 days


#15 posted 04-30-2009 04:36 AM

Jig’s finished! It’s posted in the projects section w/new pics. Thanks for all the encouragement

-- -- Jim - Kokomo, Indiana

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