How to make a Dovetail Joint?

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Forum topic by Crushgroovin posted 08-08-2010 04:25 AM 2644 views 1 time favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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234 posts in 3096 days

08-08-2010 04:25 AM

Topic tags/keywords: dovetail jig joining

I just made a huge CL score and picked up a barely used Rockler Dovetail jib for $25. I have all kinds of great ideas for boxes and other projects that will take advantage of the newly acquired tool. Now I just need to find a good tutorial on how to make dovetails using a jig and how to incorporate them into projects. If anyone can recomend a really good video or book I would greatly appreciate it. I have watched the Rockler promotional video and am looking for something a bit more detailed and less of a promo video.



-- I wouldn't be so arrogant if you weren't such a moron!

10 replies so far

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 3052 days

#1 posted 08-08-2010 05:49 AM

I was given a Leigh dovetail jig and had no directions on how to use it. I searched through google and found different promo videos and such but nothing that really gave me what I needed. So I put bits and pieces of info together and just started cutting them on scrap boards until I got it down. You will need a dovetail bit and straight bit along with a guide bushing on the router plate. I have only cut through dovetails, if your doing that you want to clamp your first board in the jig and what I do is hold the other board up to it and mark a line down the clamped board which will give me the depth that I need to cut. My jig has one setting on it for the tail board so once I have the depth set I go head and route the tails. That is the easy part. When it comes to the pins you have to have the correct setting on the jig. You base it on the thickness of the board. I always cut them a little small or tight at first just to make sure I don’t cut them too loose. You route the pin boards with a straight bit and once again set the depth of cut to the thickness of the tail board. With me it took a bit of practice to figure it out. I would just get some scrap boards and mess around with it a bit and you will get the hang of it.

You can spend a lot of time looking through the net on how to use it but in my opinion, once you have the right bits and guide bushing the best thing to do is just start cutting some test boards. I found most all the directions and videos rather confusing. Once you get it figured out its a great thing to have. I use mine all the time for boxes and other projects.

Good luck

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Rick S...'s profile

Rick S...

10762 posts in 3204 days

#2 posted 08-08-2010 06:55 AM


This is a Link to a previous Forum Posting that I did.

It’s all about the Leigh Dovetail Jig and as stated it’s a General Wealth of information, Pictures, Videos, How To’s, etc. etc. Pictures of EVERY type of Dovetail you can imagine. I also have their FREE 90 Minute CD that you can have them send to you. It leaves Nothing unanswered.

Dcase: Did you try going directly to Leigh’s Site? The Link for that is also in the above Posting. I also tried the Web and Nothing worth while until I hit Leighs own site.

Hope it’s of some use. Have FUN Guys!


-- It is not necessary for Some People to turn OFF the LIGHT to be IN the DARK! (Ontario, CANADA)

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 3316 days

#3 posted 08-09-2010 10:18 PM

Leighs, at least the D series are a little different beast, the biggest issue I have with mine (no other complaints, trust me; they’re unreal east) is that it is always 2 notches off on the pin sizing. Not a big deal since I just have to remind myself to always move it two out from the suggested size of the dovetail bit cutting the tails.

Most likely this is an issue with the bushing I use, but again the biggest rules of using a dovetail jig is to get a copy of the manual, read, re-read, take some sample cuts then re-read again. Like my Leigh’s previous owner I was about to re-list it on Craigslist until I realized that in a sub-section the description of how to set the Through Pins position was related to the size of the bit being used.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3246 days

#4 posted 08-09-2010 11:32 PM

All 3 of the comments that precede me mention the Leigh dovetail jigs. The Rockler jig is quite different.

I also know from experience that it is hard to figure dovetail jigs out without a good manual.

I would recommend you look for a manual for your Rockler jig. You may be able to download it from a website. If you cannot find a manual for a rockler jig there are a few other brands that are more like the Rockler than Leigh.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5101 posts in 4132 days

#5 posted 08-10-2010 01:15 AM

Did ya ever try callin’ Rockler?? DUH!!!!


View Vern Little's profile

Vern Little

103 posts in 3709 days

#6 posted 08-10-2010 05:00 AM

Chris, here you go.
I think the Rockler is enough like the Porter Cable for you to get the gist of it.
You can see anything if you “google it”.

-- Earth first, we'll drill the rest of the planets later. Vern

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 3052 days

#7 posted 08-10-2010 06:05 AM

I did end up getting a lot of good information on the Leigh jig from their site but even with all the directions I got it still boiled down to having to play with it for a while. Once set up correctly its a breeze to cut dovetails. I use mine all the time.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Crushgroovin's profile


234 posts in 3096 days

#8 posted 08-10-2010 07:30 AM

Hey Bill did you ever try not being such a D*, I am guessing no. I wasn’t looking for the manual. Seriously Dude I don’t know you so keep your negative comments out of my thread.

Everyone else, Thanks for the helpful insight! I was able to do some more digging and find what I was looking for.

I have about 20 GB’s of woodworking videos and it took some patience but I was able to identify a couple that have really helped. A manual is great but it doesn’t do much in the way of calculating the size of project to build to achieve the best results from a jig. I was able to find that and much more in a video from Woodsmith Magazine simply titled “Machined Dovetails”. I downloaded via Rapidshare so I am not sure what the original video title is. It is extremely useful in regards to building projects using dovetailed joints.

The other video I have found extremely interesting is from Al Navas entitled “Inlaid Dovetails Tutorial” While I am quite a ways from doing any inlaid dovetail joints I now have a goal in mind. I have the rough workings of a very nice looking box in my mind. As I grow more familiar and get better using the Jig I can try and start following that video.

I picked up a Milecraft Router Base Plate today so I am going to start making some practice cuts this weekend. Wish me luck in someday making something worthwhile with the jig.


-- I wouldn't be so arrogant if you weren't such a moron!

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3213 days

#9 posted 08-10-2010 08:16 AM

This video is from Woodworking Online it uses a PC but I think it references a Rockler. HERE

Never used one so not sure if it will help but you can check it out if you like.

View RKW's profile


328 posts in 3619 days

#10 posted 08-10-2010 06:38 PM

woodsmith has some podcasts that you can find online. Just google woodsmith+podcast. One of them is on machine dovetails. It covers the jig by portercable, but im sure the principles are probably the same.
good luck

-- RKWoods

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