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Rockler dovetail jig trials and tribulations #1: Trials and tribulations with dovetails and box joints.

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Blog entry by oscorner posted 07-05-2007 03:32 AM 14276 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I bought the Rockler dovetail jig after seeing this video: http://www.rockler.com/video/video.cfm?ID=3. In the video it looks fairly staight forward and, well…easy. The guy said after only an hour he was spitting out beautiful dovetailed drawers. Well, I haven’t found it to be so simple. My jig is an older version than that shown in the video. This is the jig with the through dovetail template on it:

I also have the half blind template and have found it somewhat easier to use. They also…at least I thought they did…said that the through dovetail template can be used to make box joints (flawlessly…well?) In this next shot you will see three joints that I made. The top is the half blind dovetail joint. It was too loose, then in this photo too tight. The top split when I pursuaded it a little. This was my sixth are eighth try…I was getting a little frustrated. The second joint from the top is a hand cut box joint…it is too loose after a couple of trys. The Rockler jig doesn’t cut equal pins and cutouts to make a box joint. I even tried putting a larger diameter bit than what is provided. I was afraid to go any larger… I didn’t want to cut into the template by accident. I had already made contact with the metal of the jig with a dovetail bit on my first setup of the through dovetail template. The bottom photo is the through dovetail made on the jig. It is too loose and has a lot of chip out…UGLY! I made notations on them so that on my next trys I will know whether I’ve improved or gotten worse.

If any of you can help or have had experiences that can help me, I’d appreciate your advice.

-- Jesus is Lord!



16 comments so far

View Don's profile

Don

2599 posts in 2827 days


#1 posted 07-05-2007 03:46 AM

Mark, I think your experience is fairly common. I haven’t owned one of these, but have seen them used by novices at a woodworking club. They were all frustrated with their lack of results. But with perseverance, some became quite proficient in a short period of time.

I first learned how to make dovetail by doing so by hand. I was prepared to practice, practice, practice. But now unless I have a specific reason to do so, I cut my dovetail and box joints on my Incra Jig.

I suppose we become a little impatient, believing the marketing spin and watching a video of a guy who has used the jig a thousand times. Ever bought a gadget at a fair after the demonstrator showed you it could cut grass and make beds? LOL

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://dpb-photography.me/

View mot's profile

mot

4911 posts in 2687 days


#2 posted 07-05-2007 03:56 AM

Os…I have an auxiliary manual for that jig. Send me your email and I’ll fire it over.

Rules of thumb with that jig:

Half Blinds:

Too loose: lower the bit
Too tight: raise the bit

Through Dovetails:

Entirely setup by the thickness of the board. If your depth is set to the thickness, then fit is adjusted by moving the template fore and aft.

Box Joints:

Will always be asymetrical

I’ll get you that manual.

Tom

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

View oscorner's profile

oscorner

4564 posts in 2961 days


#3 posted 07-05-2007 04:07 AM

Thanks, Mot! Don, I know what you mean: Ever bought a gadget at a fair after the demonstrator showed you it could cut grass and make beds. It was watching a guy at Lowes making caborie legs on a ShopSmith that got me interested in the SuperShop. His bandsaw cut wood like butter, but I have no idea what kind of wood he was using. It was very impressive. I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one that has had less than perfect joints on one of these jigs.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View Dano's profile

Dano

222 posts in 2682 days


#4 posted 07-05-2007 04:21 AM

Thanks for this post, I have a brand new Porter Cable dovetail jig that I’ve had for several weeks and haven’t even opened the box yet. I have high hopes but I am worried my results will follow suite. Knowing what the learning curve is helps to avoid frustration.

-- Dan in Central Oklahoma, Able to turn good wood into saw dust in the blink of an eye!

View mot's profile

mot

4911 posts in 2687 days


#5 posted 07-05-2007 05:00 AM

Dano…different animals. The 4212 is a worthy beast. Check out it’s auxiliary page at http://www.portercable.com/jigs and get the supplemental manual there. The 4212 is idiot proof. The Rockler jig is not. Apples to donuts.

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

View Karson's profile

Karson

34874 posts in 3051 days


#6 posted 07-05-2007 05:10 AM

With the Incra Jig I believe and I know with the Leigh Jig. sertain router bits are used for a range of thickness of wood you cannot go outside that range or the joint won’t fit.

A 1/2” 14 deg and a 1/2 8 deg are not made for the same wood thickness. this is a Leigh page for their bits with their jig. See their chart on Half Blind bits for their jig.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View oscorner's profile

oscorner

4564 posts in 2961 days


#7 posted 07-05-2007 05:18 AM

I used the 8 degree that came with the half blind template and the 14 degree and straight bit that was supplied with the through dovetail template. I guess I just haven’t perfected the settings, yet?

-- Jesus is Lord!

View Karson's profile

Karson

34874 posts in 3051 days


#8 posted 07-05-2007 05:22 AM

So the leigh scale saws that the 8 deg bit is for 3/4” wood. What is your thickness.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8775 posts in 2750 days


#9 posted 07-05-2007 05:50 AM

I have been using the Akeda because of the 1/8” incremmental adjustments that can be made. For example a drawer side width can be measured at 3”, 3-1/8”, 3-1/4”, 3-3/8” etc.

I started about 5 years ago on on of the Rockler half-blind dovetail jigs that preceded the one you have.
It just is not a very refined jig and deals in 1/2” increments.

The big drawback to Akeda is that they seem to be an unstable company and parts may be hard to get, should they go out of business for good. This is sad because they have a jig that is truly easy to use and I think it is a good product.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View mot's profile

mot

4911 posts in 2687 days


#10 posted 07-05-2007 08:40 AM

I use the Akeda, as well, Todd. Good group of people with tough luck.

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

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2811 days


#11 posted 07-05-2007 11:36 AM

hey Tom… how many toys… I mean tools do you have/ know/ have the manual/ critiqued….
it seems like an endless list!!! :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View mikeinmissouri's profile

mikeinmissouri

12 posts in 1658 days


#12 posted 03-04-2010 03:36 PM

I had a leigh d-4 and sold it to buy some new tools. I have cut some dovetails by hand and found it’s pretty easy. I bought the rockler jig for some quick half blind dovetails and found that if your lumber is just a shy over 3/4 inch it wont route deep enough. if the joints are too tight, adjust the bit out in extremely small increments until it fits perfect. once you get the perfect fit you can make every drawer in a matter of minutes with perfect results. My leigh was a much better dovetail jig and I wish I would have kept it for really nice adjustable thru dovetail joints but for fast drawers, I kind of prefer this jig! Just some advice when cutting dovetails it can be confusing but the front and backs of the drawers go on the top of the jig, always put the pieces with the inside facing out. your drawer sides will be routed in the vertical position also with the inside out. Your left side connections both front and rear will be routed on the left side of the jig and the right side joints, both front and back will always be routed on the right side of the jig. I am easily confused so I use colored stickers on the corners for the left, makes it easy when you are routing! hopes this helps

-- Mike, Peculiar Missouri

View naomi weiss's profile

naomi weiss

199 posts in 2044 days


#13 posted 05-27-2010 05:06 PM

I’ve had mine for about 4 years and have only used it as a vise. For the same price i could have gotten a real vise! I asked specifically about 1/2” shank and the dude there said it was ok; it wasn’t. Then again he also really misinformed me about a sharpening stone. Ugh.
If it makes you feel any better, check woodworking magazine, spring 2008 for glen d. huey’s ‘the tools i never use’—we’ve all all been there…
PS-looked for a link without success…sorry.

-- 'Humility is a duty in great ones, as well as in idiots'--Jeremy Taylor

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112070 posts in 2228 days


#14 posted 05-27-2010 05:12 PM

Like Don said it is common place to have to fight this jigs to get them set up.
Naomi unforchantly people who work in woodworking store don’t always know what their talking about your better off asking the LJ gang.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View bowedcurly's profile

bowedcurly

479 posts in 380 days


#15 posted 12-27-2013 08:01 PM

oh what fun it is with tha Rockler Dovetail Jig dust dust dust al day< I just bought one guess my trials will begin,

-- Staining killed the wood<<<<<>>>>>Dyeing gave it life

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