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PC Mini Dovetail Template #4215 - Nice Idea, Poor Design, Not as Advertised

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Review by JustJoe posted 11-21-2012 10:09 PM 2882 views 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
PC Mini Dovetail Template #4215 - Nice Idea, Poor Design, Not as Advertised PC Mini Dovetail Template #4215 - Nice Idea, Poor Design, Not as Advertised PC Mini Dovetail Template #4215 - Nice Idea, Poor Design, Not as Advertised Click the pictures to enlarge them

I needed to make some small half-blind dovetailed drawers with 1/2” fronts and 1/4” sides and my Leigh jig wasn’t up to the task so I looked around and ordered the Porter Cable 4216. Most of you are familiar with the 4200 series PC jigs so I won’t discuss the jig itself, just the miniature template (#4215) – I just ordered the 4216 kit because I had to have the jig itself before I could use the mini dovetail template.

My first discovery upon opening the box and reading the instructions is that although it does do miniature dovetails – it doesn’t do them down to the advertised specs. Every website I search said that this jig would do miniature through and half-blind dovetails in wood 1/4 to 1-1/8” thick. That is not quite true. According to the manual it does through dovetails in stock down to 1/4” thick, but half-blind only down to 1/2”. Since I like my drawers to have sides thinner than fronts, that was a bit of a problem for me. But I decided since it was already here in the house I’d give it a try and maybe I could find a workaround.

Assembly was fairly quick and easy but setup soon showed a couple of more problems – The built-in biit depth-gauge was a little screw on the left with enough spring in it as to be worthless. Initial depth was supposed to be 3/8” so I ended up using a ruler and just setting it by hand to 3/8” + the 1/4” for the thickness of the template. The second issue I had was with the alignment – the jig itself looks like rough painted pot metal but is surprisingly slick – the top piece had to be overtightened to keep the wood from moving, and the left-alignment bracket was hard to position square to the wood.

But the final straw was the actual resulting dovetail. I started with 1/2” front and sides, made a test, adjusted the bit, made another test, adjusted the bit, made another test and so on until about 20 board feet later I had the closest I could get to a correct joint. To tighten the joint you heighten the bit. Starting with a 3/8” depth on a 1/2” piece of wood only leaves 1/8” to play with. But by the time I got done dropping the bit down far enough to get a semi-tight joint that 1/8” was down to under 1/16”. Just for grins I tried with 1/2” front and 3/8” sides – I just managed to get something that resembled a dovetail joint, but the sliver of remaining wood was about .000000000000000001” thick. So while the manual says 1/2” is the minimum, I suspect that 9/16 or 5/8” is probably closer to the truth – certainly not the 1/4” advertised.

The 4216 came with other templates for doing larger joints, but my Leigh handles those quite nicely so I doubt I’ll be getting much use out of the PC. I’m also now in the market for a miniature dovetail jig that is capable of handling 1/2” fronts with 1/4” or 3/8” sides so if you know of one out there that is available please let me know.
thanks
Joe

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JustJoe

1554 posts in 791 days



4 comments so far

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Howie

2656 posts in 1675 days


#1 posted 11-22-2012 01:51 AM

I can share your frustrations with the PC dovetail jig(s). I had a 4212 that I “fiddled” with three times and was never satisfied with the results(these were like an hour at a time not just a few minutes) I finally gave up and bought an Incra for my router table(LS-25)
The instructions for the Incra lists the smallest dovetail at 1/4” thru and 3/8” blind material thickness if this will help. I’ve found it is hard to beat the Incra for accuracy and their video makes the learning curve fairly simple.

-- Life is good.

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JustJoe

1554 posts in 791 days


#2 posted 11-22-2012 12:01 PM

Thanks I’ll look into the Incra.

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Cato

641 posts in 2065 days


#3 posted 11-22-2012 01:15 PM

I have the 4212 and it works well for me on thru dovetails. I can get them so tight I have to use a rubber hammer to knock them apart. I use scrap to set up same thickness as project pieces and that has worked well for me.

I have thought about getting the smaller jig set a few times but just haven’t had the need.

Howie, the easiest way I found to work the 4212on dovetails was to use two routers rather than switching bits back and forth.
Once I did that it was like night and day. No frustration and very minor adjustments to get tight fitting joints.

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BrentNichols

36 posts in 1700 days


#4 posted 11-24-2012 10:15 PM

The new 16” PC omni jig works very well for minature dovetails. This is probably were they corrected the issue, but not sure if you can justify the cost… Goodluck

-- BN in Indiana

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