|Review by trasner||posted 01-07-2013 07:20 PM||20689 views||4 times favorited||24 comments|
I have been doing a lot of pocket hole joinery because I usually build shop furniture, jigs, etc. However, I wanted to make some things that did not have visible screw holes. I have a biscuit joiner but do not feel that would get the job done. That leaves dowels or m&t joints. I realize that most authorities say that m&t will provide the strongest joint with dowels a close second. However, for my uses, If the joint fails because over 500lbs of pressure was placed on it, my concern will most likely be for who was hurt : )
Lets face it, all dowel jigs are nothing more than several evenly spaced guide bushings. The difference is the ability of the jig to place accurate holes in different configurations. The inexpensive self centering dowel jigs cannot do this. I searched and reviewed all the different jigs on the market. I found the three highest rated ones are the Dowelmax, Joint Genie, and Jessem Paralign jig. The Dowelmax is ridiculously priced (it is over $400 for a complete system with different size bushings). That is more that most of my powertools with motors and other complicated electronics. I can only imagine how much markup the makers of Dowelmax make on each unit. That being said, obviously they did something right as people do really like the Dowelmax and continue to buy it. But not this guy. The joint Genie looked good but seemed a little more complicated with so many parts which leaves more room for error.
When I was looking at the Jessem Paralign, I saw their new Dowel Jig: The 8350:
What really stood out to me was that it is the only dowel jig that is adjusted without having to remove the jig and add a spacer or change the setting. Brilliant! The 1/8” indexing system locks in exact every time. It also has an alignment slot to match the dowel on an opposing board of different lengths. Simple, and also brilliant! No other dowel jig has these features. You do have to use your own clamp to clamp it to the board, but it is probably for the best as you do not have to keep reassembling the jig each time you want to place it on another board. Even with the Dowelmax you have to use an external clamp when clamping to a second board when beyond the spacers reach.
As with all Jessem tools, it is rock solid and quality made using CNC anodized aluminum with laser engraved markings. HERE IS THE BEST PART: $99 FOR THE 3/8”SYSTEM (for $159 you can get the master system which has 1/4” and 1/2” bushing guides). I am not sure why Jessem sells this one and the more expensive Paralign, but my thought is that they realized they can manufacture a more diverse, and lighter jig for less money. I guess it will only be a matter of time before they discontinue the Paralign because the 8350 does everything the Paralign does. I have a Jessem router lift and it is a wonderful product. All their tools are made in Canada.
I received the jig 1 week after ordering it and was very nicely packaged. My only gripe is that the instructions and videos could be a little more detailed. In the video and instructions, they scribe a line in the wood and center the jig at its centerline. The only problem I found with this is that if joining to the face of the 2nd piece, you cannot see the centerline mark on the wood. JessEm should have laser engraved a centerline along the front as well. This is not a big deal beacuse usually I will not use the centerline but will just line up the jig at the edge of the wood and go from there. I will just mark the sides to be drilled. This is how the Dowelmax is used. The jig comes with an indexing pin so I can drill as many accurate holes as I want.
The test joints I have made are perfectly flush. I even did a test piece using three rows of dowels like the video. They fit perfect.
I hope this helps those looking for a reasonable priced quality dowel jig.
BTW, I made the storage box.