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Finger joints...why can't I do these?

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Forum topic by Tom posted 07-30-2017 08:44 PM 1197 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Tom

172 posts in 965 days


07-30-2017 08:44 PM

I”m in the process of building a small box. I have a porter cable dovetail/finger joint jig that I’ve used in the past with no problem but today…I can’t get anything to work right. I’ve tried on scraps and the joints are shifted just enough that they won’t line up; I’ve tried two different router collars and used the bit that came with the jig. I’ve messed up 3/4 of my box sides assuming that I was doing it right and need help. I barely have enough of the piece left to replace the messed up pieces.

Is the collar on the router supposed to fit snug in the jig? I’m pretty sure it is. I know it’s the right bit because I only have 2 Porter-Cable bits and they came with the jig.

I’m not going to try to use the table saw method. I’ve tried more times than I want to think of and the joints never worked out right. They’d either be too tight/loose/shifted and my boxes looked like crud.

Any advice on what I’m doing wrong with the jig? My material is 3/4” oak and even testing on scraps of different wood things still don’t work right.


28 replies so far

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

1272 posts in 1703 days


#1 posted 07-30-2017 09:32 PM

Is that collar thing you mention the kind that sticks down around the bit and has a ring that screws down holding it to the router?
If so then maybe you don’t have it centered around the bit.
Just guessing here

-- Aj

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Tom

172 posts in 965 days


#2 posted 07-30-2017 09:53 PM

It wasn’t centered…but still not right. the pins/openings are not the same size. I’m done messing with it for the day.

View firefighterontheside's profile

firefighterontheside

17547 posts in 1762 days


#3 posted 07-30-2017 09:56 PM

If the bit is not centered in the collar and you don’t orient the router the same each time, then the slots will all be at least 1/4”, but some may be bigger due to the router and collar orientation.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

19196 posts in 2588 days


#4 posted 07-30-2017 10:13 PM

Afraid I am not much help….as all of mine are handcut…

Just a backsaw and a chisel…

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

3912 posts in 2214 days


#5 posted 07-30-2017 10:24 PM


Afraid I am not much help….as all of mine are handcut…

Just a backsaw and a chisel…

- bandit571

That must be hard on you hand. I would have though you’d use a maillot or something to strike the chisel with.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

8099 posts in 2482 days


#6 posted 07-30-2017 10:50 PM

Pop corn time

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waho6o9

8099 posts in 2482 days


#7 posted 07-30-2017 10:51 PM

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

3912 posts in 2214 days


#8 posted 07-30-2017 11:03 PM



Pop corn time

- waho6o9

Why?

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View johnstoneb's profile

johnstoneb

2789 posts in 2078 days


#9 posted 07-30-2017 11:06 PM

There is a little bit of slop in the collar on the PC dovetail jig. You can adjust it out when cutting dovetails. but you can’t get rid of it for box joints.
I just make a jig for my table saw or router table and cut them . It takes about 5 minutes to make a jig for the table saw or router table.
One of the early woodsmith magazines had a very simple one board jig. I have used that ever since they published it.

The above video is a good one. You don’t need the sled. You can use a miter gauge and screw the jig to the miter gauge. It will make some very fine box joints and a lot quicker and tighter than the PC jig. I have the PC jig and only tried it once on box joints. It does make nice dovetails but not so nice box joints.

You can use the same jig on a router table with a miter gauge.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Gilley23's profile

Gilley23

488 posts in 287 days


#10 posted 07-31-2017 03:06 AM

Easy to make jig:
https://youtu.be/AiPzFNsuN2k

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2799 posts in 1386 days


#11 posted 07-31-2017 03:02 PM

Tom,

I’ve been frustrated by them too. Partly because I so rarely make them its a learning curve every time.

I bought the Incra jig same thing – every time I use it I have to get the manual out.

I would suggest you regroup, watch some videos, like William Ng. Yes, they all make it look easy, but I think the TS method is the best way to go because you can fine tune it.

If you’re doing a lot of box joints, you might want to invest in the Incra Jig. Probably the cheapest thing Incra sells.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Tom's profile

Tom

172 posts in 965 days


#12 posted 07-31-2017 03:09 PM

I don’t do a lot of boxes at all…but I have some metal coins used for boardgames coming in and I wanted to make a box to store them in. I think I’m going to try the router table jig first since I haven’t tried that and it may work…if that fails I’ll try the TS jig again. I do remember from one video that the guy cut all 4 sides of the box at once on the TS jig and that may help.

View Gilley23's profile

Gilley23

488 posts in 287 days


#13 posted 07-31-2017 03:19 PM

Tom, did you watch the video that I posted above? Whatcha think? Can’t get any easier than that.

View Tom's profile

Tom

172 posts in 965 days


#14 posted 07-31-2017 03:27 PM

I did and watch Steve’s stuff and I’ve also seen the William Ng video. Both are basically the same type of jig I’ve tried in the past and it failed but I’ll try again. Might have to find some free scrap wood just to try this again.

View GR8HUNTER's profile

GR8HUNTER

3282 posts in 618 days


#15 posted 07-31-2017 03:47 PM



https://wnwoodworkingschool.com/make-an-accurate-box-joint-jig-simple-fast/

HTH

- waho6o9

DITTO ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ :<))

-- Tony Reinholds,Pa. REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

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