Dovetail problem

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Forum topic by studiousmatt posted 04-24-2010 02:00 PM 1692 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View studiousmatt's profile


43 posts in 3553 days

04-24-2010 02:00 PM

OK here is the question. I purchased a leigh dovetail jig several years ago. I have tried in several occasions to use the jig and seem to be having issues with getting the quality jounts that the jig is touted as beeing famous for.

I have read, read, and re-read the instructions and with my self diagnosed ADD I cannot seem to get through the book and apply the directions.

What I am seeing is the joint is tight on one side and progressivly becomes loose moving towards the other side. IE the joint seems tight on the left and they are clearly not the correct size working to the right.

has anyone in the land of the forums had similar issues?

since the jig was pretty pricy, I would really like to get it up and running, however it is a bit frustrating.

9 replies so far

View Andrew C's profile

Andrew C

2 posts in 3159 days

#1 posted 04-24-2010 03:51 PM

It sound as if something is not square on your jig. I am no expert I am going thru a similar learning process my self, but the guy where I purchased my jig from was very helpful the best peace of advise he gave me was.”heighten to tighten and lower to loosen”
IS there a possibility that the bit you are using is creeping in the router collar some times if the waste builds up in the cut it can force the bit to pull out of the collar slightly ,a variation as small as 1/2 a MM will have a big sufferance in the quality of your joint

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3683 days

#2 posted 04-24-2010 04:36 PM

I would have to agree with Andrew. It sounds like maybe your jig isnt set up square. When you say the joints are loose as you move towards the opposite end, are they loose on the sides or at the ends (bottom) of the joint or both. I use a Leigh jig and it works great, but you have to be sure the template is on the right graduation marks at each end. Another trouble could be that the router bit isnt centered in your router guide, but I would think you would see the problem along the entire board. Also be sure the guide fingers are tight and not moving on you as you progress along the template.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View bigike's profile


4055 posts in 3491 days

#3 posted 04-24-2010 04:47 PM

I have and use the same jig the only trouble i have is setting up the HB dovetails for some reason. Your problem sounds like what they said ^ like the teeth are not level or the wood isn’t square, what kind of jig do you have the D4R?

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View bhack's profile


349 posts in 3923 days

#4 posted 04-24-2010 05:05 PM

I have the Super24 and I agree with all the above. Especially the square cuts. If the end is not square the piece will not fit flush with the side stop and finger assembly. Be sure finger assembly is parallel.

Good luck.

-- Bill - If I knew GRANDKIDS were so much fun I would have had them first.

View mikedddd's profile


147 posts in 3433 days

#5 posted 04-24-2010 05:07 PM

I have had the D4R jig for a few years now and it took me a bit of trail and error to get the fit right, as Andrew said make sure the bit isn’t moving I’ve had that happen and that the boards are cut square, make sure the bit is centered in the guide bushing this is very important you will have to loosen the base plate on your router to adjust this, if your router didn’t come with a centering jig you can use a dovetail bit for this, with the router unplugged raise it up in the router and just before it makes contact with the guide bushing check that when you turn the bit the clearance to the guide bushing is the same all the way around. Make sure that the boards you are using are the same thickness for the full length of the board. Also if you search here you will find other discussions on setting up dovetail jigs.

-- Mike

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3764 days

#6 posted 04-24-2010 05:15 PM

Re: Centering the bit in the guide bushing

My router (Porter Cable 618) was not centered and couldn’t be adjusted as designed because the base plate mounting screw holes were tapered as were the mounting screws (dumb). So I counter bored the holes with a brad point drill to make them flat on the bottom and replaced the screws with binder head screws which made the plate adjustable.

-- Joe

View griph0n's profile


68 posts in 3546 days

#7 posted 04-24-2010 05:33 PM

I found centering the baseplate solved MANY of my router problems, including the ones with my dovetail jig.

I bought this from lee valley:,43000,51208&ap=1

I think it’s made by these guys: Centering Pin&cat=Centering Pin

Lee Valley doesn’t sell the centering pin for some reason, so I bought it direct from them. Not cheap ‘cause I’m in Canada, but should be easy if you’re in the States.

I didn’t think to do it myself, another missed opportunity in self-sufficiency. Rats….

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 3793 days

#8 posted 04-24-2010 06:09 PM

It sounds like the bit isn’t centered. The easiest solution is to make sure you hold the router in the same position through the entire process. If the cord is closest to you, it has to be that way through all your pieces. You can’t have the cord closest to you on the tails and then away from you on the pins. If that makes sense. I believe the manual talks about this problem, as well as explains the solution. Good luck

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View TomHintz's profile


207 posts in 3601 days

#9 posted 04-24-2010 08:14 PM

The three most common problems with the Liehg jig is the side stops not being set up perfectly square and/or the wood not be cut perfectly square.
Also, centering the bit in the collar. I know all this has been mentioned before but I get this kind of email weekly and I can’t even remember when the fix was not one of these. You have to remember that the Leigh jig is ultra precise, including if you are accidentally telling it to cut joints in crooked boards.

-- Tom Hintz,

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