|Review by JustJoe||posted 11-21-2012 10:09 PM||4603 views||1 time favorited||5 comments|
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.
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