Help with dovetail jig

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Forum topic by pashley posted 12-06-2013 10:29 PM 1894 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1035 posts in 3136 days

12-06-2013 10:29 PM

Could use some assistance – I bought I nice Porter Cable dovetail jig. Trying to get it to to half-blind dovetails….I THINK I have it right, as seen here:

Seems I need a minor adjustment on the template position, moving it a bit away from me?

Yes, they look good, but they good in tight – I have to pound them in…and I doubt you should have to. I’m guessing it’s because of a very fine adjustment on the dovetail bit depth?

But my other question is, on the inside of the joint….should it look like this? I’m thinking it shouldn’t?

I just don’t understand how they could be hidden, since they are rounded during the routing?


-- Have a blessed day!

13 replies so far

View RussellAP's profile


3059 posts in 1705 days

#1 posted 12-06-2013 10:36 PM

Can’t help you out, but will watch and learn.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Alongiron's profile


552 posts in 2112 days

#2 posted 12-06-2013 10:37 PM

Everything is perfect but they are too tight. If you loosen them up just a tad, you will be able to tap them in just a bit further and that will cover the gap to the interior. Look to the left side of the jig and it tells you how to loosen up the joint. You are so very close. But remember just a little turn makes a big difference.

-- Measure twice and cut once.....Steve Lien

View fladdy's profile


93 posts in 2431 days

#3 posted 12-06-2013 10:43 PM

I echo Alongiron’s comments. They seem a little tight and a small adjustment makes a BIG difference. I practiced on a few scrap pieces before making my first drawers.

-- Fladdy

View Loren's profile


8158 posts in 3066 days

#4 posted 12-06-2013 11:03 PM

Setup properly it will put rounded ends on the insides of the tails.
You may have to push the template further in to get it to do
that with the thickness you are working with, or try it with a
1/4” backing board behind.

View pintodeluxe's profile (online now)


4824 posts in 2232 days

#5 posted 12-06-2013 11:11 PM

Assuming it is the 4210 / 4212 jig, you can adjust the depth of socket it cuts by moving the template. Move it away from you to make a deeper cut. I put locknuts behind the threaded knobs so they would hold their position better. Once set correctly, you will not see the joint from the inside.

Tightness of the tails in the sockets is a bit depth-of-cut adjustment. There is a bit setup guide on the P.C. jig so once you get it dialed in, it is easier to setup next time.

If you use board widths of 3-1/4”, 4-1/4”, 5-1/4” etc. the dovetail spacing will be perfect every time.

Once you get the stock 7 degree bit figured out, try a 14 degree bit. It gives a nice look.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Texcaster's profile


1103 posts in 1092 days

#6 posted 12-06-2013 11:53 PM

I once worked at a place with a dedicated stand alone dovetailer. It was setup so the pins protruded the tails by about 2mm ( a very fat 1/16in ). Their big trick was to glue and assemble the front to the sides, put the drawer in its opening and tap the sides in or out till the fit was perfect. Once dry the back was fitted. The back was rebated to fit a dadoed side. If the front measured 500mm, the back would be 499mm. This wasn’t top end furniture but it was solid timber. I was there about 1 year and nothing came back on us.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

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893 posts in 2094 days

#7 posted 12-07-2013 12:42 AM

If you use board widths of 3-1/4”, 4-1/4”, 5-1/4” etc. the dovetail spacing will be perfect every time.

Glad you pointed that out. Great way to cheat too. I used a 1×8x 8” routed scrap pc. of wood as a guide to measure the dead centers of the tails. (I think it’s actually 3 3/8”) I have a designated 2 HP D handle router set up just for cutting dovetails. It takes too long to set the bit up perfectly every time.

Also, this way there is no reason to go from one side of the jig to the other as the tails are symmetrical. I mark the matching sides, route all the pieces on the left. take one out, fit the new one before removing. The 1/4” shy bottom dado groove ends up going right through the last tail without nicking it if you recess it around 5/16”.

I like to cut a few extra side pieces in case I mess one up…. it happens.

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 1491 days

#8 posted 12-07-2013 12:47 AM

It may be just the picture, but it looks like the tails look flat (I think loren is pointing this out) Here is a pic I have of a broken one in 1/2 in maple. It gives the inside view of what the setup should look like. Maybe it can help you along with the other advice. Also I found a fun little vid for you. It is fun. He seems to be a shop teacher, and has sorta a northern accent.. and plenty of safety advice. Now not mentioning what jig you are using, this still may help.

-- Who is John Galt?

View skipj's profile


87 posts in 1691 days

#9 posted 12-07-2013 07:02 PM

If it is 4210-12 its what pinto said. If it is the 4210-12 I can get you all the setup measurements’ you need. I have the 4210 set up drawer boxes with dedicated router, I have made over 100 boxes in the last 6 months

View pashley's profile


1035 posts in 3136 days

#10 posted 12-08-2013 02:05 AM

I figured out what happened – I didn’t push the template away from me far enough in order to round the pins. It’s good now!

-- Have a blessed day!

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 1491 days

#11 posted 12-10-2013 01:03 AM

Glad to hear!

-- Who is John Galt?

View pashley's profile


1035 posts in 3136 days

#12 posted 12-10-2013 01:14 AM

Not only did I have to figure out how to do regular joint, but an angled one too!

-- Have a blessed day!

View b2rtch's profile


4821 posts in 2467 days

#13 posted 12-10-2013 01:23 AM

I bougth a dovetail jig.
I spent a lot of time time leaning how to use it and then I never used it again

-- Bert

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