Tweaking the Leigh Dovetail jig for my shop (DR4)- upgraded

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Blog entry by Bob #2 posted 03-14-2010 05:19 PM 8063 reads 1 time favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have had this Leigh dovetail jig for more than a year and have yet to tune it so I can use it.

From wood stuff 2010

When I first got it it was an old D4R so I upgraded the clamp mechanism and added a bit of adhesive sandpaper to the clamp bars.
The first couple times that I tried this machine I found that the wood wanted to slide under the clamp bars so I put sandpaper strips to control that .
I also had difficulty the 1/4 inch shank bits that I had on hand were sliding out of the collet adapter and spoiling the joints.
I replaced the collet with a new one from Lee Valley and purchased 8mm shank bits as well as an 8mm adapter.
I’m surprised how much better this combination seems to work in my router.
It makes me wonder why the industry ever produced quarter inch bits as they have been a pain in the ass since I started woodworking.
My “go to” router has become a Triton three and a quarter horsepower machine which has all the right features but of course, with a large motor, becomes a bit of a behemoth to move back and forth on the job.

To follow along with this procedure please see my blog here:

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

13 comments so far

View bigike's profile


4052 posts in 3316 days

#1 posted 03-14-2010 06:00 PM

nice post! i have one of these jigs and i can get the through Dt’s to work but when it comest to the HB dovetails something goes wrong and i can’t figure out what, i haven’t tried in awhile but i will and post it to see if i can get some feedback as to what i’m doing wrong. GOOD LUCK! with your joint making.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4064 days

#2 posted 03-14-2010 06:16 PM

Nice entry, Bob. I have a D4R with dust collection in the shop now. I was, as you might remember, using the Akeda jig. I really love the Akeda as well, but surprisingly enough, the 1/8 increment spacing DOES become an issue of you don’t plan for it specifically. As I tend to be incapable of planning for anything specifically it’s not hard to end up with something that I’m not pleased with. My biggest concern with the Leigh is the tearout so using backer boards is essential in it’s process. I agree with you on the 1/4” shank bits. They are a pain. Great post, again.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4049 days

#3 posted 03-14-2010 07:45 PM

Bigike, I had a bit of trouble visualizing the HB joint as well. The instructions said that the tails and pins are cut with the finger in the same position. That’s true but… the wood needs to be changed to the positon so that the “tail board is used to butt the pin board to the right position” then removed.
Once I figured that out it was fairly easy to adjust for the tail board thickness on the scales .

Mot, good to hear from you gain!
I looked at the Akeda when I decided to go with this system. The selecion of wood around here adds to the difficulty of getting the right sizes of stock without breaking the bank so I can appreciate your frustraton in getting stock to accomodat the jig.

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View mikedrums's profile


102 posts in 3064 days

#4 posted 03-14-2010 07:52 PM

I guess I’m a bit cynical, but I would be pretty PO’d if I had to make any mods on something that costs as much as that jig.
This thread caught my eye because I’m about to post my own topic sharing the repairs I had to do on a cheap dovetail jig I recently bought from MLCS. I actually anticipate having to make mods on cheaper tools I buy, just because everything is made in China and the quality control just isn’t there. And I was debating in my mind whether or not to just bite the bullet on an expensive jig that would be perfect out of the box.

I’m kind of glad I went with the cheap one, now that I see even the expensive ones need some work, too.

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4049 days

#5 posted 03-14-2010 08:01 PM

Hi Mike:
In fairness to Leigh Industries the jig I bought wasover 10 years old and never used. It was one of those toys that guys buy and become intimidated by when they read the manual.
I have seen the new models at Lee Valley and the fit and finish has improved over the years.
The real nice thing with this one is that a call to Leigh industries brought my older D4R up to the same capacity as the newer model and the parts all fit perfectly despite the years between models.
That has not been my experience with Chinese products. Taiwanese is actually pretty good in comparison.
p.s. the mods I made are now built in to the new models so it works right out of the box.

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View mikedrums's profile


102 posts in 3064 days

#6 posted 03-14-2010 08:07 PM

That’s good to hear, Bob. I’ve always heard great things about Leigh, and it’s encouraging to hear about such great customer service.

View degoose's profile


7234 posts in 3382 days

#7 posted 03-15-2010 07:53 AM

I have the D4R and I love it… I have tried the cheaper jigs… no comparison… I made a cabinet where nearly all the joinery was done on the D4R…HB dovetails for the drawers and main carcass and sliding dovetails for vertical dividers and shelf…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View OutPutter's profile


1199 posts in 4018 days

#8 posted 03-15-2010 10:25 AM

Hi Bob, I have the same Triton and have had trouble with the 1/4” collet and the bits slipping. I’ve never had that problem with the slipping on my other Craftsman router. I wonder if it’s something with the Triton. Have you called customer support about the issue? I might give that a try since I can’t afford to replace my router bits.


-- Jim

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4049 days

#9 posted 03-15-2010 03:19 PM

Outputer, try replacing the 1/2- 1/4” collet.
I replaced mine at Lee Valley ( $4.90)
If your bit has ever slipped on you one time yo collet is probably pooched.
I seem to remember that the original Triton collet adapted was difficult to close???

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View mikedrums's profile


102 posts in 3064 days

#10 posted 03-15-2010 07:15 PM

Larry, which other jig have you tried? Do you remember?

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4049 days

#11 posted 03-15-2010 07:27 PM

I had this one for a few years and used it about 5-6 times.
It took some fiddling to get it set up but worked O.K. for generic drawer joinery.

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Tony's profile


986 posts in 4058 days

#12 posted 03-17-2010 04:04 PM

THanks for the tip Bob, I made a few tweaks here and there on mine, but not this one – next time I get it out, i must remember to look at the fingers.

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

View schloemoe's profile


709 posts in 2966 days

#13 posted 05-11-2010 04:51 AM

I hate to say it but it kinda makes me a little happy when I see other people having problems with set up . Makes me feel less alone. I really don’t have a dovetail jig but if I did I know I’d have problems too. But I always say some times it’s better to own a tool than it is to know how to use it. Just a little humor

-- schloemoe, Oregon , http://www.

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