LumberJocks

First Dovetails Ever. Easy as Pie with the Akeda BC24 Dovetail Jig

  • Advertise with us
Review by thiel posted 07-12-2009 06:10 PM 25458 views 15 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
First Dovetails Ever.  Easy as Pie with the Akeda BC24 Dovetail Jig First Dovetails Ever.  Easy as Pie with the Akeda BC24 Dovetail Jig First Dovetails Ever.  Easy as Pie with the Akeda BC24 Dovetail Jig Click the pictures to enlarge them

First, Some Background
There’s one thing I should clarify so you’ll put this jig in the proper perspective: I’ve never made a dovetail. Not by hand, not by machine. I’ve never even seen a dovetail jig used (except on New Yankee Workshop). To be perfectly honest, I didn’t (until this morning) know the difference between a pin and a tail.

That being said, I have aspirations of building fine furniture of my own design some day. And with those aspirations in mind, I try to make each tool purchase my first and last for that type of tool, so when I picked this jig I knew it was pricey for a neophyte like me, but I wanted to be sure that I’d want to keep it – til I die.

Why Did I Choose the Akeda
To me, the Akeda jig stood out for two major reasons. First, although the dovetail spacing is variable, it varies only at increments of 1/8th of an inch. Some see this as a limitation, but I see it as in-built repeatability. Second, Akeda displaces all the geometry of setup into their proprietary bits and guide pieces. What that means is that as long as you use the right bits with the right guide pieces, the jig is supposed to be foolproof – requiring no adjustments to dial in the cut.

I’d researched some of the criticisms leveled at Akeda as well. The biggest criticism was that the Akeda Jig was only 16 inches wide. Which is why I ordered their brand new 24 inch “Blanket Chest” model. :-)

The ordering process (from The Jig Store in Canada) was smooth and simple. I did have an opportunity to email Kevan at Akeda, who replied quickly and completely—making his reputation for customer care well deserved.

I placed my order knowing full well that a Leigh jig would have been the conventional choice.

On Arrival
The jig and accessory kit arrived promptly and in good shape. Below are photos of the contents, but suffice it to say that you need a specific bit and a specific set of guides for different board thicknesses, so there are a LOT of parts and pieces. Everything is well constructed and the jig itself weighs in at about 40 pounds.

Akeda jig in box

What's in the box?

And the accessory pack that I ordered with it…
Accessory pack

Setup
Setup was as painless as advertised and the jig was ready to go in under 15 minutes. But with the jig ready to go, I wasn’t! I own two routers: an old Ryobi half horse fixed base that I use for quick edge treatments and a Triton 2.25 hp plunge that lives in my router table. The Ryobi baseplate didn’t work with the Porter Cable style guide bushings Akeda supplies, so I pulled the Triton out. After fitting the various attachments needed to adapt the Triton to PC style, their was simply no way I could get it to work with the jig. I chalk this up as my own issue and not a shortcoming of the jig, but for those of us hoping to get by with fewer routers, you might want to know. So… I headed down to Home Depot to buy a PC router… and came back with the Ridgid instead.

Here’s a view of the clamping arm. It has a rubbery sandpaper-like substance on it to hold the work secure.

Akeda jig clamping arm

The knob used to clamp and unclamp the work is a separate piece that you move around the jig as needed, which I like, but there’s no way to quickly spin the know for big adjustments, which I didn’t. This last bit is a minor shortcoming and I could easily customize the handle to address my concerns, but my bet is that if it had a longer handle (as I desire) then it would bang into the work if I was using larger pieces.

Ready to Cut
With an entirely new router in hand, I set up a test on some pine I had laying around. Since through-dovetails are the most complicated (IMO) on this jig, I figured I’d try those first.

I should emphasize at this point that I referred to the manual only very briefly to make sure that I wasn’t missing something HUGE. Pretty much everything was done based on intuition, and intuition seems to be a suitable replacement for the user guide with this jig. Also, remember that I’m using a new out of the box router, and I did not adjust it at all, so the baseplate did not benefit from a detailed centering process. Lastly, I used soft pine which had not been jointed to flatness.

Tails first. I put in the tail guides (which you use for any size joint) and inserted the proper router bit (7 degrees for my 3/4 inch board). I set the bit depth by clamping my board in the horizontal clamp first and dropping the bit to meet the bottom of the board.

Setting bit depth on Akeda jig

Then I inserted my work into the vertical clamp.

Ready to cut tails on Akeda jig

The router is well supported and slides smoothly over the jig. Dust collection works as advertised. Visibility is good too. Overall, routing the work was uneventful – just the way I like it. Also, I really like how the router is fully supported and the bit is safely “buried” in the jig when I plug in the router and/or turn it on; it’s a nice little safety routine facilitated by the design of the jig.

I switched to the straight cutting bit (which you don’t need to do for half-blind dovetails), switched out the guide fingers for pin cutting, clamped in the new board, and cut again.

Pin guides on Akeda jig

Result
Here’s the result. The joint has a perfect feel to the fit (as far as I know!). I had to push to fit the joint by hand, but not too hard. Alignment was good and the joint appears tight. Akeda supplies (as an accessory) two different bushings that should tighten or loosen the fit if I desire; I might try those just to see what I’m missing.

Results! First dovetails

Pin side

(You might notice in the photos that I have one board inserted backwards; since my layout is not symmetrical it creates an offset on either end. The joint is fine… I’m the one with the defect!

Excluding my trip to Home Depot to buy an appropriate router, it took me about 40 minutes to unpack the jig and router my first dovetails—ever! And, they were perfect.

Update!
Below are my second dovetails ever. The first were not a fluke! This could become an addiction.

-- Laziness minus Apathy equals Efficiency




View thiel's profile

thiel

359 posts in 1947 days



21 comments so far

View ellen35's profile

ellen35

2570 posts in 2087 days


#1 posted 07-12-2009 06:59 PM

Nice review. I really appreciate a review that is thorough and covers all the important aspects of a tool.
Thank you.
Ellen

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8775 posts in 2754 days


#2 posted 07-12-2009 07:17 PM

YOU’RE KILLING ME! I only have a 16” Akeda.

This is a pretty good dovetail machine. I think that you will find that the 1/8” increments of the Akeda will fit your needs just fine. Like you said, ” see it as in-built repeatability.”

I use two routers and leave them set up with each bit.

I also back-up my cuts with a scrap pieces of wood to help control the tear out.

I think that you will love using this jig. The simplicity of it and the dust collection makes it a dream to use. Changing back and forth between pins and tails is literally a snap.

HAVE FUN!

Setting the Routers

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View cabinetmaster's profile

cabinetmaster

10874 posts in 2213 days


#3 posted 07-12-2009 07:25 PM

Never heard of this brand but I will get more info on it. Looking at Todd’s video made me want one like this.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View thiel's profile

thiel

359 posts in 1947 days


#4 posted 07-12-2009 10:05 PM

Thanks gang. Yep, a pricey jig for sure. BTW… you’ll note that in the photo where I set bit depth, the collar and the bit are clearly out of alignment. In spite of that I got a pretty good joint. Now I’m gonna align the router closely and be amazed!

-- Laziness minus Apathy equals Efficiency

View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 1981 days


#5 posted 07-12-2009 10:07 PM

thiel,
Thanks for the very good indepth review, and Todd thanks for the conformation. I have been looking for a new dove tail jig….I will check on this one.

-- Don S.E. OK

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8775 posts in 2754 days


#6 posted 07-12-2009 10:41 PM

Theil, did you get a centering bit for your router?

This is a must-have.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112089 posts in 2232 days


#7 posted 07-12-2009 11:48 PM

Interesting review well done

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View ND2ELK's profile

ND2ELK

13495 posts in 2428 days


#8 posted 07-12-2009 11:59 PM

Hi thiel

Great review! This is the dovetail jig I was planning on buying. After seeing your review and Todd’s coments I am confident I am making the right decision. Thank you for posting.

God Bless
tom

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2476 days


#9 posted 07-13-2009 01:17 AM

Thiel, thanks for the review. I do not have a dovetail jig but that is one of the next tools that I am going to buy. Your review and Todd’s video have provided some good info on this one.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2303 days


#10 posted 07-13-2009 02:53 AM

Great review, I always wondered why not more people get the Akeda, as to me it looks easier, faster, with equal results and quality to the Leigh Jigs…

I have this one on my list, but since I’m not doing any large number of dovetails these days, it’ll have to wait for the right moment. but this is definitely a great way to make dovetails.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8775 posts in 2754 days


#11 posted 07-13-2009 09:05 PM

I feel the excitement!

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

529 posts in 2136 days


#12 posted 07-14-2009 02:41 AM

Great review, and looks ten times easier to set up the a Leigh.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1140 posts in 2646 days


#13 posted 07-14-2009 06:12 AM

I have the 16” too but I haven’t used it yet, will get a workout when I make the drawers for my sideboard :) Looks great though :)

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View Tomas's profile

Tomas

45 posts in 2643 days


#14 posted 07-14-2009 07:29 AM

Wow – doesn’t anybody feel $450 is a lot for a jig like this – not to mention Leigh, which is even more expensive. I have the Porter cable jig and plan on attaching the template to a block of wood to try my hand at dovetailing wide stock – if that does not work out I may have to take a second look at these jigs. I look forward to future posts where this jig has been put to use to earn its keep – thanks for sharing. – Tomas.

View Brad_Nailor's profile

Brad_Nailor

2531 posts in 2612 days


#15 posted 07-15-2009 07:44 PM

Great review….lots of info and pictures! I would love to own a jig like this…but $450 is pretty steep..

-- http://www.facebook.com/pages/DSO-Designs/297237806954248

showing 1 through 15 of 21 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase