keller jig for small boxes pros and cons

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Forum topic by floridagramps posted 01-10-2011 06:08 AM 3839 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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23 posts in 3631 days

01-10-2011 06:08 AM

Topic tags/keywords: jig question

I am recently retired and hope to make personalized keeper boxes for 10 grandchildren. I will be working with 3/8 and 1/2 inch stock. I would like to use thru dovetail and box joint joinery. I have no interest in half blind dovetails. From what I’ve read in this forum and elsewhere it sounds like the Keller jig is a reasonably priced, easy to use solution. I do have a couple questions.

I understand that template fingers are fixed 1 and 1/8 inch apart and that bearings on the router bits follow the template. Am I restricted to bits specifically manufactured for Keller jig?

Is it important that I also invest in a clamping system?

Can the jig be inverted and used in portble mode on a router table when working with short pieces of wood for small boxes?

Is there a better way to do this without spending significant money?

-- florida/maine gramps

3 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3313 days

#1 posted 01-10-2011 05:18 PM

I have never used a Keller jig or any other jig of a comparable design so consider that when reading my comments.

I know about Keller jigs and I have difficulty envisioning how you get good, accurate dovetails without a clamping system. You have to clamp the board in place some way and using F-clamps or C-clamps or any other independent clamp would, IMO, be awkward and difficult relative to a clamp made specifically for the jig. The Keller with it’s clamping system will get the price up into the high $200s.

Let me suggest the Leigh Super Jig -

This jig sells around $250 and it is exceptionally well made. It will do everything the Keller does plus variable spacing. The clamps on this jig are easy to use and they hold (unlike the clamps on some cheaper jigs).

You will see it pictured with the VRS attachment which is really great for capturing the dust and chips, but that is optional and not necessary to get good, clean, tight-fitting joints.

The jig comes with 3 starter bits and, for some, that is all they need. In theory, you may be able to use bits from another source, but I would advise staying with Leigh bits.

Be advised that their bits have an 8 mm shaft. The jig comes with an adaptor to convert a 1/2” collet to an 8 mm collet.

You can use a plunge router with this jig but, IMO, a fixed base router is the better option.

Spend some time at their website and check out their excellent videos.

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

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 4131 days

#2 posted 01-10-2011 06:51 PM

I use the Keller 1500 jig for all my P.O. bank boxes. I’ve actually owned it for about 10 years.

It’s very simple, well made, and I like the bearing guided router bit concept. You don’t have to worry about the bit being exactly centered in a bit template. Amana makes a replacement set of bits for the Keller that are 1/2 the price of the Keller ones. They are available on Amazon. The bits use a 1/4” collet so there are no adapters to have to deal with. The design also allows for unlimited length dovetails even though I can’t imagine ever needing that ability. I made my own clamping system. The Keller only comes with the template and bits. You have to fabricate your own mounting system and they include the instructions for doing this. You cannot pull it out of the box and start cutting dovetails. There is a little work involved to get it ready.

I would not recommend a plunge router. You want the depth of the straight and dovetail bits to match up and it would make consistency a nightmare. I cut a lot of dovetails since I am gearing up for the show season and I have two fixed base routers, one for each bit, so I don’t have to go through all the changing and adjusting. This is not an issue for occasional use.

There are slicker and fancier jigs out there, and the Keller is really geared for the occasional user, but it’s the one I had laying around when I started making these boxes. It works well for me.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View hairy's profile


2783 posts in 3771 days

#3 posted 01-10-2011 06:51 PM

I have only used a dovetail jig 1 time. It was a keller. It was simple to use , and did a good job. It might not be for everyone, but I feel it’s a good place to start. It’s not as versatile as others, but it costs a lot less.

-- My reality check bounced...

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