|Review by FloridaUFGator||posted 07-03-2008 07:57 PM||6567 views||1 time favorited||27 comments|
I purchased this after seeing it at a woodworking show. Man did it look good. The guy was doing all kinds of stuff with it (including sucking the money out of my wallet). He cut half blinds, through, sliding dovetails, variable spaced, fixed space, etc. I then proceeded to watch Norm do the same thing on the video that was running next to the demo. It was about 1/2hr long and I think I watched it 3-times throughout the day (before I bought it). The great part is that is a $599 retail machine but they were selling it for $529 plus a free Porter Cable D-Handle router (and I had another $20 off coupon from the show). So I got the jig and router for $509. I know what you are thinking – “That is still VERY expensive”. Just wait – keep reading – it gets worse.
Now for the Good, Bad and Ugly:
The Good: The thing actually does everything I saw it do and more. In terms of functionality there were no smoke or mirrors (sort of). I’ll explain the ‘sort of’ in the bad. It is extremely flexible in all kinds of cutting. I made a few drawer carcasses to try it out and they were great. Of course it wasn’t as simple as watching Norm do it but I eventually got to where I was cutting variable-spaced through dovetails very accurately. I’m not sure there it much this thing can’t do. It is huge so if you are considering the 24” version make sure you have the room (and the back support to lift it off the ground).
The Bad: I said in ‘functionality’ it does all it claims to do – with relative ease. The issue comes when you try to do these things with a board thickness other than 3/4”. I don’t know why I didn’t see or think of this while I was watching at the show. They never changed the board thicknesses they were using. You see, the jig ONLY comes with the preset stops, bits and templates for 3/4” thick wood. If you want to do anything other than that you will have to go to your wallet AGAIN (if the initial hit wasn’t hard enough). I’m not sure why PC decided on the 3/4” as their delivered standard. I would have thought 1/2” or 3/8” would have been more desirable (seeing that MOST dovetailing are on drawers). Anyways, I pulled mine out of the box and was ready to start cranking out some 1/2” drawers that I’ve been waiting to do for a very long time. Lo and behold $530 later I still can’t do them. I called Porter Cable and they confirmed what I thought I must have been imagining. They gave me a phone number to a local PC service department that would be happy to sell me the parts. Of course they don’t have the parts in stock (no one does) but would order them for me. To purchase the kit to allow me to cut dovetails in various wood thickness would be an additional $225 (just for the stops and bits). I don’t have a price for the router templates yet. If anyone knows of where these accessories are available online please let me know. I can’t find them.
The Ugly: For the most part the jig’s fit and finish is fine. I had a lot of trouble initially separating the fingers from each other. It took all of my strength (for about 15 minutes) to get each finger to slide. Once I broke the initial seal they started to slide a bit easier. However, the bar they slide on isn’t flat in all areas. The fingers bind in certain places making it difficult to microadjust when the time comes to set the fingers up for a cut.
All-in-all this is a great functioning jig. For this I give it a 4 or 5 star rating. Unfortunatley I have to bring it down to a 3 star because of the misleading marketing of what this thing can do out of the box. If you are ready to shell out about $1000 for a fully functioning dovetail jig I would highly recommend this.
Side note: They sell a separate dust collection connector for it. This works very well and is highly recommended if you have a good collection system.
-- ...and remember this: there is no more important safety rule than to wear these — safety glasses - Norm Abram