ready for dovetails

  • Advertise with us

« back to Joinery forum

Forum topic by lazyoakfarm posted 03-03-2013 07:25 PM 1770 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View lazyoakfarm's profile


144 posts in 3031 days

03-03-2013 07:25 PM

I am ready to try my hand at making dovetails for my kitchen drawers.
Leigh DR4Pro OR Akeda BC24. I have the Incra LS system and its just too complicated for me. I want something easier for the kitchen drawers, i will still use the Incra for the neat little things when Im not in a hurry.

So far the only thing I dislike about either of them is that the Leigh might require more setup if the dovetails are not evenly spaced requiring multiple setups for the mirror image.

I wish there was somewhere that I could try them both out. wouldnt that be nice…

I have searched this question and found a lot of comments to be from years ago.

My wife says. exactly what you need, more tools you dont know how to use. I said yep.

26 replies so far

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3714 days

#1 posted 03-03-2013 07:36 PM

I use the Leigh D4 jig. I have had it for quite a while now, and it does a great job, very accurate, and I like the ability to space out the dovetails to any combination I like. It takes a bit to learn to use it though. If I havent done dovetails for a while, I sometimes have to get the manual out. Its a great jig though with endless combinations. I also like its ability to do sliding dovetails. Leigh has a great customer service group also.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3627 days

#2 posted 03-03-2013 07:48 PM

I got a leigh years ago from woodcraft to make all drawer boxes for a kitchen client….....I sold the thing after completed the job….
If I would have to go over that process again, Dovetails by hand are much easier, precise and you just avoid all the hassle about getting unnecessary gadgets!

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3882 days

#3 posted 03-03-2013 07:51 PM

You can jig up to cut dovetails on the bandsaw pretty
easily. To cut the bottoms you’ll need a 1/8” blade
or a scroll saw. You also need a fence.

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2918 days

#4 posted 03-03-2013 08:03 PM

I’ve got the Leigh D4 (older one pre D4R and now you say they have a D4Pro) as well. Unlike Wayne, I have to leave the book open at all times (for me it’s not intuitive at all). As for your “mirror” image concerns, it’s a single initial set-up that works for both the pins and tails (don’t mess with it). Everytime I use it I scratch my head as to why it works but it does. I assume you’re going half-blinds which does require a few “test” boards to get the depth corrrect. Once you are happy with fit, they tell you to save the test board and mark it with the cutter used so you can return to that depth setting on your router at a later date.

I did my kitchen drawers and only did half blinds in the front. I dadoed the backs figuring nobody seems them anyway and there are no stability issues at all once the dovetail gets “locked” in the front. It made assembly a lot easier also. Lock the dovetails (square is pretty much a given if you followed the set-up instructions but check it anyway) then measure/cut the backs. I don’t know about the Akeda BC24 but I am really impressed with the quality of the old D4.

View iminmyshop's profile


287 posts in 2228 days

#5 posted 03-03-2013 08:58 PM

Both the Leigh and Akeda get great reviews. The Akeda is supposedly easier to use but, except for the occasional jig showing up on craigslist and estate sales has been unavailable from the manufacturer for years.


View lazyoakfarm's profile


144 posts in 3031 days

#6 posted 03-03-2013 09:06 PM

Both of them sure look great. I dont see anyone using any kind of backer board which i thought was strange. I have to with my Incra, even using a brand new Whiteside bit.

View DKV's profile


3940 posts in 2738 days

#7 posted 03-03-2013 09:51 PM

Do you have a bandsaw? Why spend money when you don’t need to. Make points with the wife.

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

View Kazooman's profile


1264 posts in 2186 days

#8 posted 03-03-2013 10:05 PM

I have an older model Leigh D4 jig and it works well. I would have to say that there is a learning curve and you need patience and practice to get good results. As was mentioned above, it is nice to be able to vary the sizes of the dovetails. I’ll attach a couple of photos of an example. As far as setting up the jig, I sorta stumbled upon an easy way to make certain that the spacing is symmetrical and identical end to end. I roughly set the fingers in place to find a pleasing arrangement. Then the end fingers are locked in place. (You need to do this carefully so they are the same on each end.) I then measure the gaps between the sets of fingers and cut small spacers out of scrap. I don’t ever measure again. I place the spacer against the end finger set and slide the next pair over and tighten them down. Working in from each end gives a perfect result every time.

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2918 days

#9 posted 03-03-2013 10:15 PM

lazyoak…the D4 manual does recommend the use of backer boards if tearout is a problem. I’ve found it depends on the wood, the sharpness of the cutters and the technique (the book gets into all that also…thats why it is always open when I use it). DKV, the router jigs are fun to play with (the only difference between men and boys being the price of their toys). And properly set-up, they have to be faster than band saw (and I don’t know if you can do half-blinds on a bandsaw).

View lazyoakfarm's profile


144 posts in 3031 days

#10 posted 03-03-2013 10:17 PM

Oh shoot. I just ran across the PC OmniJig. this thing looks nice too. Akeda is not being produced at this time.

View a1Jim's profile


117416 posts in 3811 days

#11 posted 03-03-2013 10:40 PM

Here’s one jig that helps you make dovetails that look like their hand cut.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View lazyoakfarm's profile


144 posts in 3031 days

#12 posted 03-03-2013 10:53 PM

have you guys seen Norm demo the omniJig? Leaning hard that way after I look for some reviews of course.
It sure helps to watch a series of videos of how it works. Well worth the investment for a company to do that. Im just about sold. any thoughts are appreciated.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3392 days

#13 posted 03-03-2013 10:54 PM

Do yourself a favor and watch the Incra videos. It’s not that difficult when you watch Perry do it a few times on the videos.

You can knockout all the dovetails for your kitchen drawers in a couple of hours because you can cut so many of them at once.. Devote the time saved, compared to what it would take doing them individually with the Akeda or Leigh, to learning the Incra system.

It’s jobs like kitchen cabinet drawers where Incra separates itself from its competitors.

-- jay,

View lazyoakfarm's profile


144 posts in 3031 days

#14 posted 03-03-2013 11:08 PM

Cosmicsniper. (cool name) I will do that before I spend that kind of money. Ive already started modifying the push plate with larger bottom runners for added stability. Im all for saving several hundred bucks.

My dad hates perfect joints, he likes the looks of the had cut with a few flaws.

Many thanks

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3392 days

#15 posted 03-03-2013 11:20 PM

No problem. I firmly believe you already own the best tool for that job. I know it’s intimidating at first, but I think it’s one of those things that really pays off in the long run.

I’d hate to see you spend the kind of money on something else…it’s not like those systems are a piece of cake either. Heck, even handout dovetails have a learning curve…which is probably why I’m awful at them. :)

-- jay,

showing 1 through 15 of 26 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics