|Review by awlee||posted 04-21-2013 05:49 PM||8416 views||3 times favorited||6 comments|
I’m a fan of Incra tools and was very happy to get the I-box jig for box joints as a gift. The jig is sturdy, made of extruded aluminum and MDF, and includes an instructional DVD. Set up is easy. The instructions in both the DVD and the handbook are clear and easy to follow. I set mine up for a table saw, though there is an option to set up for a router table too; and one can go back and forth between table saw or router table without much fussing. Set up took me an hour-and-a-half (but I tend to be slow). I’m including a photo that shows the final set up and the position of the wood to be cut. The basic components of the jig: a fence that sits on rails that run in the table saw’s miter slots, and an assortment of platforms, guide blocks, and backer boards to hold and lock the project pieces into place, and an acrylic sheet in front of the jig to prevent dust and chips from kicking up.
The components seem so simple that I wondered if the Incra was much of an improvement over a shop-made jig. After using it, I’d say “yes.” The biggest advantages of the Incra I-box seem to be these:
First, there’s a micro-adjust knob (you can barely see it, but it’s on the far left side in the picture, sticking out the end of the jig) that allows for quick, small adjustments to vary the distance between blade cuts and, thus, to allow for very precise joints. Turning the knob widens or narrows a “saddle” incrementally; the wood rides on the saddle and continually moves along it as you move from dado cut to dado cut. Second, you can easily adjust the jig for any width of dado cut. Third, the dust shield really works and is a big help for safety. Fourth, the backer boards (you can see the sheets of hardboard that sit flush on the front of the fence face) are adjustable, riding on a miter slot in the fence; and so you can move them to the left or right after a series of cuts to maintain some backing and prevent tear out. After using the backer boards for a few projects, you can simply make new ones and slide them into place.
In terms of improvements, I wish the fence were taller and the platform a bit deeper. There’s a fair bit of torque on the wood as it passes over the dado blades, and I found the MDF blocks of the jig don’t really hold the wood snugly. As you can see from the photo, I ended up clamping the wood to the jig itself; and still I found myself taking very slow passes with each cut.
I’m including photos of a wood box that I made using the jig. The box came out well, the jig made pretty quick work of it. The jig is pricey, as of this writing $155 on Amazon. For me, that’s more than I would care to spend if I were making only a very occasional box. But if you make any with regularity, it seems like a good investment.