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Akeda Works Like Magic

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Review by pintodeluxe posted 06-10-2015 11:50 PM 6348 views 2 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Akeda Works Like Magic Akeda Works Like Magic Akeda Works Like Magic Click the pictures to enlarge them

Okay when the hype of a new tool is gone, and the dust has settled… here is a review of an older Akeda dovetail jig. This may be a moot point, but hey you might find one on ebay.
I have used four different types of dovetail jigs including Porter Cable, Leigh, and an off-brand jig. I felt comfortable with making dovetails, so flipping through the manual was not a big deal. Put the clamp in the correct position, snap in the guide fingers and dust chute and you are ready to rout.

CLAMPING SYSTEM
The first thing I noticed about the Akeda is that it is robust and well constructed. Weighing in around 28 lbs, it really has some mass to it, which is a good thing. The clamping system is truly world-class. I could not believe how easy to use, and how sturdy the clamping system is. The manual states you can use the jig as a vise around your shop, and you know what… you could, it is that strong. I have never had one board slip even slightly, and I don’t crank the handle down very tight. On most of the other jigs you really have to apply some pressure or the workpiece will occasionally slip. In fact the Akeda is the only jig I feel comfortable re-cutting a workpiece twice if needed. The side stops register the board firmly in position. For me, this really helped with the accuracy of my dovetail joints.

DUST COLLECTION
I get the feeling that the DC on some dovetail jigs is an afterthought. On the Akeda there is built-in dust collection that really works. I could dovetail in a suit and tie, and no one would be the wiser. There are no DC accessories to attach directly to the router. Instead the dust collector hose attaches to the jig itself. I tried a shop vac and a single stage dust collector. They both worked well, but I use the DC because it is quieter.

ROUTER SUPPORT
As you may know the Akeda jig supports the router front and back. The box-like design gives you ideal support, and a “parking garage” for the router to spin down between cuts. You simply slide the router off to the right side of the jig and let it power-down. Unique to the Akeda is that the router doesn’t actually rest on top of the guide fingers. Instead it rides on the rails of the jig, perhaps 1/16” above the guide fingers. Why does that matter? Well you need a perfectly flat surface to slide the router across. Individual guide fingers are often not in one plane, and any imperfections here would translate to the dovetail joint. My Leigh Superjig fingers are often misaligned by 1/16”, despite carefully holding them down and tightening them individually. I don’t want to start a brand war, but rather I’m just passing along some of my personal frustrations with the other jigs I have.

GUIDE FINGERS
There are three types of guide fingers. 1. Through pin guides in various angles, 2. Tail guides, and 3. HB pin guides. Through dovetails are amazingly simple to cut. To set bit depth: I look through the window and lower my bit until it reaches just below a board clamped in the horizontal clamp. I use two routers, one with the standard straight bit and one with the dovetail bit. Through dovetails I can get right on the first time, without any test boards. There are 7, 9, 11, 14, and 20 degree dovetail bits. I think I like the looks of the 7 degree best.

Half blind dovetails require the typical test cuts for exact bit depth, but the manual will get you close.

The guide fingers snap in and out easily, without any tools.

JOINT FIT
Not only were there no gaps in my dovetail joints, they slid together with the perfect amount of hand pressure. I don’t need a mallet to assemble the joints, yet they stay together from light friction. The final tipping point that made me choose the Akeda was Todd C’s video. That is exactly how all my joints fit. http://lumberjocks.com/reviews/831 The video is in the second comment following the review.
There is no fore-aft adjustment of the jig. Just put straight & square lumber in the jig, and get perfect dovetails out. If you have ever spent an afternoon tuning a standard dovetail jig, you realize what an engineering feat this jig truly represents.

JOINT APPEARANCE
This is one area strangely lacking in most reviews… how does the joint look? The look of Akeda dovetails will be slightly more slender than most jigs. This is because of the multiple dovetail angles you can choose from. Seven degree for 3/4” stock, 9 degree for 5/8” stock etc. all the way down to a 20 degree bit for 1/4” stock. The narrow end of the pin will be about 1/4” wide if you size your stock correctly. The Akeda joints look less bulky and more attractive than the joints I have made on my other jigs.

This tool is a slam dunk. If you can find one, please do yourself a favor and purchase it.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush




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pintodeluxe

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7 comments so far

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CL810

3726 posts in 2890 days


#1 posted 06-11-2015 12:38 AM

Good review Willie. Thanks for taking the time to post it.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

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whope

142 posts in 2347 days


#2 posted 06-11-2015 11:50 AM

I contacted the ‘maunfacturer/owner/whoever is running the website’ to try and get a hint of when it might go back into production. No real info. They are still maintaining a reservation list (that I’ve been on for years). I needed a jig, so I moved my name to the 24” jig and picked up something else.

-- Measure it with a micrometer, mark it with chalk, cut it with an axe.

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helluvawreck

30112 posts in 2769 days


#3 posted 06-11-2015 01:20 PM

Thanks for the well written review.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

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Ken90712

17543 posts in 3091 days


#4 posted 06-11-2015 11:20 PM

Thx for the info, have been looking around for one. I just got the Incra I-box in the mail yesterday and look fwd to playing with that.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

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shipwright

7894 posts in 2700 days


#5 posted 06-15-2015 12:14 AM

I have one and agree with all of your points. I even bought an extra set of bits several years ago when it looked like they might go under. Now I do mostly hand dovetails but I won’t be parting with this jig. When it comes time to do a set of kitchen cabinets again, I’ll be ready.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees. http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

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Mainiac Matt

7631 posts in 2231 days


#6 posted 06-18-2015 07:03 PM

My understanding is that Akeda had to stop selling this jig in the US market because the designer/inventor was an industrial designer who did contract design work for the Leigh jig, and was sued for contract violation when he later designed and promoted the Akeda… Then the plant that made the Akeda had a fire and couldn’t produce product.

The jig is still available in the EU through Trend (no reference to the Akeda name), but this is a metric model. When I inquired, Trend couldn’t sell them in the US, but they do sell them in Canada and the Canadian distributor for Trend will ship to a US address.

As you can see, I really wanted an Akeda jig a couple years back, and did quite a bit of research.

It’s a great looking jig and the few people that have them seem to rave about how great they are, but in the end, the price through Trend is very high and was too rich for my blood.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

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Buckeyes85

125 posts in 1590 days


#7 posted 06-30-2015 11:28 AM

Excellent review. I have one that I bought several years ago and agree with all your points. i especially like that you can variably space the pins and the angles are such that, while these will never be mistaken for hand-cut, don’t look like they came off an assembly line either. Most recently I’ve been working on cutting DTs by hand but like Shipwright, I’m planning to hold on to the Akeda in the event i have a bunch of them I need to cut.

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