Router: Jig or Template

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Forum topic by becikeja posted 10-11-2010 01:44 AM 2254 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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617 posts in 2231 days

10-11-2010 01:44 AM

Lumberjocks I need your opinions.
I am debating to make an investment in a decent dovetail jig or a set of Rout-R-Joint templates from My skill level is intermediate. I am a weekend warrior. I do a little bit of everything, carving, turning, furniture, boxes etc… I have never bought a dovetail jig but have considered it many times. I saw the Rout-R-Joint last year at the woodworking show in Chicago. Another show is coming in December, so I have a little time to decide. My questions are as follows:
1) Does anyone have experience with the Rout-R-Joint system and is it worth the money?
2) Would you prefer the Rout-R-Joint System or a standard dovetail jig.
3) If you prefer a dovetail jig, which one? And why?
Looking forward to your thoughts.

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

8 replies so far

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 2562 days

#1 posted 10-11-2010 09:33 PM

1. No experience with that exact brand, but I did have a Gifkins style Fast Joint system that collected dust until I sold it
2. The Gifkins style jigs are middle of the road. They’re not a painful to use as the obligatory HB versions sold at Rockler, HF, Sears, etc. On the other than they’re not nearly as flexible as the Akeda, Omnijig or Leigh jigs
3. Current jig is a Leigh, adjustability and ability to fine tune the fit. With a standard size template system you’re stuck with sizing your box/drawer to the template. With an adjustable system you can size the dovetails to the width of the stock

The obstacle though is that the Leigh, Akeda and Omnijig as significantly more expensive than the Gifkins style jigs. If you’re doing a hobby shop you probably have more uses than a dovetail jig to spend $400. They do get sold on Craigslist for a fraction of the new price, but even in Chicago they’re rare (I’ve seen maybe 4-5 in the last year).

You can build a version of the Nagyszalanczy DT Jig for your table saw for less than $20, along with a good marking gauge this gets you 90% there on variable spaced through DTs. For HBs you can use one of the the Harbor Freight jigs. For around $50 you’d have as much flexability as the system you’re looking at.

Not to say that you shouldn’t buy the Rout-R-Joint, it’s just the Gifkins style jigs are in my opinion overpriced. For almost 2/3rd of the price of a variable to encounter the exact same limitations as the versions that sell for around $60 it just doesn’t add up.

View mcase's profile


446 posts in 2547 days

#2 posted 10-13-2010 12:54 AM


If you end up buying a a standard dovetail jig get a good one. The cheap ones are an enormous headache. If you are interested in knocking out drawer boxes, the Porter-Cable 12” is really a good deal at about $130.00. This also can be purchased as a kit with a fixed through dovetail template for about $160.00. If you want to jump up to 24” adjustable then you talking $500.00 – $600.00.

View becikeja's profile


617 posts in 2231 days

#3 posted 10-14-2010 05:05 PM

Appreciate the comments:

Nathan Allen. If understand your comment you would recommend an adjustable jig. On that type of jig is it possible to do various types of joints or just basic dovetails or finger joints with unique spacing options? That is one thing that has intrigued me on the Rout-R -Joint system is the variation. Now truth be told after the first few projects, will I ever use them again. I don’t know???

mcase: It’s funny you mention the Porter Cable 12”, that’s the one I keep going back to. I have seen to many posts (no experience just reading) that suggest the cheaper ones have a tendancy to bend.

DaveR Ok you have me curious, what are you thinking??? I will tell you that I tend to go for the more artistic side on my projects. I like complexity of design, but not complexity of tool utilization.

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

View swayze's profile


97 posts in 2506 days

#4 posted 10-14-2010 11:36 PM

Incra. Several models to choose from and you can do more then dovetails.

View gerrym526's profile


266 posts in 3227 days

#5 posted 10-14-2010 11:40 PM

My first question would be-what do you intend to use the dovetail jig for, and how often? One of my woodworker friends has a Keller jig (very nice, fixed spacing, well built, thru dovetails only)-he uses it for everything!-cabinet carcases with exposed joinery, drawers, boxes, etc. Are you intending to build lots of things with dovetail joinery, or just use it occasionally? DaveR’s comments are to the point on this, as are his comments about the factory look of dovetail joints cut with a router and jig. That said, however, I think they look nice, and lots of woodworkers who use jigs for dovetails feel the same way. You will get a more delicate, artistic, look with hand cut dovetails if you are willing to spend the time learning the use of hand tools.
One strong opinion I have regarding dovetail jigs is-”you get what you pay for”! I have a 15 yr old Leigh Jig that was expensive, but very well built. The Keller system, and the Porter Cable setup are also very sturdily built and very handy to use. No disrespect meant here, but I looked at the pictures of the Router-R-Joint and it looks like a flimsy piece of junk! If you don’t want to break the budget, it might make sense to look at the Keller jig-probably get the set up for about what the Route-R-Jig costs, but be set with a well built, solid tool.

Just my 2 cents.

-- Gerry

View becikeja's profile


617 posts in 2231 days

#6 posted 10-16-2010 04:19 PM

I wish I had the skills to do hand cut dovetails. I’ve tried a few times but, just can’t seem to get the accuracy. I’m sure with time and practice I could get there, but this work thing I need to do to pay the bills, just seems to keep getting in the way.

Fact is I don’t get a lot of time for my woodworking. Probably on average 6-8 hours on the weekends in the winter and maybe 2-3 hours on the weekend in the summer. (I live in Chicago so it’s always winter :). The Router Boss looks interesting, but just can’t justify that expense. I’m looking for someway to get a solid “quick” joint for small boxes/drawers etc… that is decorative. Really I don’t specialize in anything, I just build whatever pops into my head that I think I can handle. I have been using just a dado or a box finger joint, but it’s boring. I agree the std dovetail template is always the same as well, but you would have to admit it looks better than a box joint. (My opinion anyway)

I agree that the Rout-R-Joint system seems a little flimsy for the price. At $100 I think I would I give at a run, but at $270? That’s why I am asking if anyone has first hand experience. Can’t always judge a book by it’s cover, but I also know a guy at a woodworking show who pitches it 800 times a day, should be able to do incredible things with it and make it look well worth the money. That doesn’t mean I will be able to. So is there anything else out there like it that is more rugged? Anything else I should be looking into??

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

View jandjcarpentry's profile


13 posts in 2414 days

#7 posted 10-16-2010 06:32 PM

Porter Cable 4212 is a good investment for the money

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


17573 posts in 3094 days

#8 posted 10-17-2010 03:15 AM

I have never made a lot of drawers, so I like to hand cut the dovetails :-)) If I had a ton of them to do, I would probably cave in and get a jig :-(

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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