|Review by RandyMorter||posted 04-03-2011 02:34 AM||7036 views||2 times favorited||10 comments|
Just so you know, this is the first commercial jig I’ve ever used like this. I’ve never cut a box joint before in my life. In other words, I’m a noob.
I ordered the Woodhaven 4555 Box Joint Jig from Amazon for $59.99 on 3/26/2011 and received it in Phoenix on 4/1/2011. I purchased it from Amazon rather than directly from Woodhaven because the shipping was free but now I see Woodhaven ships free on orders over $50 (according to the catalog that came with the unit).
I looked at a few other jigs but they were either about twice as much or (one of the Rockler jigs) used a lot of plastic and had reviews that it flexed too much. This one has a long aluminum fence with a laminated MDF fence, aluminum guide pins, and attaches to your existing miter. It can be used on either a table saw with a dado blade or on a router table that has a miter.
Assembly was pretty straight forward for the jig itself.
However, I didn’t know that it recommended an additional sub fence mounted to your miter. I have the Craftsman 22124 and stock miter, and this jig would not fit the miter. I made an “adapter” for the jig. It wasn’t terribly difficult to make but I wanted to start using the jig right away and this was one of those things that had to be done first. I made the adapter out of some poplar that I already had machined.
Once I got the adapter done I tried using the jig. It’s not that easy, or at least it wasn’t for me but then no one ever accused me of being a brain surgeon (which I’m not, BTW).
I wanted to use this on my table saw because I already have a Freud 8” dado set. I didn’t have to order a new router bit; I got to use my new (to me) table saw; I am not sure my little Bosch router table is big enough and I don’t have a miter that fits well in its slot.
So, I initially tried setting the dado at 1/4” and setting up the jig for 1/4” slots. First, from the directions, I thought the spacing of the two aluminum “keys” were important so I was trying to get them to be exactly 1/4”. Then, I made my first cut and found that the actual dado is a bit undersize. So I spent time trying to get the aluminum key sections to measure to the exact width of the cut.
I tried a few pieces, adjusting things, and got the pieces to line up a bit but it took quite a while making a few cuts on two different pieces and then trying different adjustments.
I got tired of making a lot of small cuts so decided to try the dado at 1/2”. However, the stock zero clearance insert (ZCI) wouldn’t work with that setting (it DID work with the 1/4” width). I tried one cut without a ZCI but didn’t like making it. I was able to hold the piece to the fence but I didn’t like it and decided I wasn’t going to do that. So, I made a trip to Home Depot to pick up some 1/2” MDF to make an insert which you can see in the picture.
I don’t know how others do their home made ZCIs, but I put a finger hole in it similar to the stock unit, and added a hole for screwing it to the table. I also put 4 wood screws in the corners for adjusting it like the stock ZCI. I’m pretty happy with it and will make another for the normal blade when I’m done with this jig. But, it was another delay in the middle of trying to work with my new jig.
I also scaled the 1/2” back to 3/8” and decided that would be a good size for me. It’d be one less cut for every two of the 1/4” cuts but not so big as the 1/2” which just didn’t look that good to my eye. The ZCI was cut using the 3/8” width.
I finally realized the setting of the two aluminum pieces isn’t important either. They just need to be fairly snug but after you make a cut with the dado you can use that cut to set the aluminum keys so they are snug by placing the cut over the keys, spreading them to get the desired fit, and tightening the movable key section.
The important adjustment is the distance from the right edge of the blade to the left edge of the fixed key section, as viewed from behind. That distance must equal the width of the cut. Once I directed my attention to that, I used my Grizzly dial caliper to adjust the fence. I looked at the difference between the width of the finger and the slot. Using the dial caliper I moved the fence left/right as necessary the same distance that the finger was short or over the width of the cut. That made the process pretty easy once I used my new caliper (it attaches to the table with a switchable magnet so it’s pretty easy to move on/off the table).
Once the adjustments were done, I made a few test cuts. My first “box” (unpictured to protect the innocent) was a learning process. It looked like crap. After a few more adjustments I made one more joint which I’ve pictured here. It’s not bad. It’s also not glued, but was sanded, but due to the lack of glue the sanding isn’t perfect. I figured out how to keep the grain matched up on the cut, as you can also see (although its not quite the same as if it had been a miter cut).
Once again, I’ve learned that just buying a tool doesn’t mean you can make boxes like Mic!
Good solid unit at a decent price.
Aluminum keys should not wear out.
Can be used on a table saw or router table.
Should produce repeatable results once set up.
Supplied sacrificial fence is reversible and has two sets of mounting holes so you can use all 4 corners.
Need additional mounting piece (the hardware was included with the unit).
I’m not sure if I can cut more than one piece at a time due to the short keys (Mic cuts multiple sides at once).
Included instructions for use are pretty bare but there are examples online.
Setup time is lengthy but it probably is for all jigs of this nature.
Yeah, I gave it 5 stars. I’m not sure how it could be any better unless it had it’s own dial adjustments.
-- Randy Morter, Phoenix, AZ