Need some input and advice from experienced dovetail jig users.

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Forum topic by Jerry posted 12-19-2013 07:57 PM 1503 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Jerry's profile


2654 posts in 1670 days

12-19-2013 07:57 PM

Topic tags/keywords: jig question router milling joining

I am considering getting a dovetail jig for some future larger projects I’ve always cut them by hand before, so I don’t know a thing about jigs.

The one thing I have noticed, however, is that a lot of the videos and pictures I’ve seen show rounded back sides to the dovetails, like in the picture below.

I don’t much like this, and I wonder if all dovetail jigs do this, or just some of them. If any of you know which jigs, if any, do NOT produce this rounded back edge, I would be very thankful to know what models and brands they are.

Thanks in advance,

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be.

13 replies so far

View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 2712 days

#1 posted 12-19-2013 08:07 PM

Those are blind dovetails and would not be seen at all. You must want through dovetails. I love my Keller Dovetail Jig!

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2132 days

#2 posted 12-19-2013 08:09 PM

The Leigh D4R I used to own did that to some extent on half blinds.

If you think about the geometry, I don’t think you can cut a square internal half blind corner with a rotating tool.

View JustJoe's profile


1554 posts in 2060 days

#3 posted 12-19-2013 08:11 PM

+1 to what he said about half-blind dovetails. Once assembled you don’t see the curved part.
I like my Leigh. It does through, half, variable spaced, sliding, etc.
I don’t like my Porter Cable. It does fixed half and through but not to the dimensions/proportions I like.

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View Woodbum's profile


813 posts in 3087 days

#4 posted 12-19-2013 08:18 PM

+1 on the Leigh D4R. I use it for all of my through dovetails. I still cut my half blind dovetails on the router table with an Incra fence system. Don’t know why, just ‘cause. On half blind, who cares if they are round backed. That will be hidden when the joint is assembled.

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

View hoosier0311's profile


706 posts in 2047 days

#5 posted 12-19-2013 08:19 PM

I have a leigh super 24
It does any variation of dovetails or box joints
one can space the pins at any interval desired
comes with 3 bits that are great quality.DVd and good instructions.
and can’t think of anything bad to say about it.
only thing to remember is when they say make small adjustments, they mean exactly that. one little “tweak” in the jig makes a visible difference in the end result.

-- atta boy Clarence!

View kdc68's profile


2657 posts in 2298 days

#6 posted 12-19-2013 08:22 PM

Those rounded corners would only be for half blinds. As echoed above, the router wouldn’t produce a square corner in those instances, nor would they be seen. Now if the jig were set up for through dovetails, then you wouldn’t have that.
Many jigs on the market like the Keller and the Leigh. Check those out as well one’s from Porter Cable, Rockler’s, MLCS, Shop Fox, ie. There are many on the market. Good luck in your search

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View b2rtch's profile


4861 posts in 3070 days

#7 posted 12-19-2013 08:34 PM

I bought a dovetail jig. I spent two days leaning how to use it and then I never use it again.
It just take too much time to set it up.

-- Bert

View upinflames's profile


217 posts in 2184 days

#8 posted 12-19-2013 08:43 PM

Don’t even throw the Rockler jig into the choice pool. My son has one and it is junk, too much plastic, the templates are plastic, but Rockler will tell you they are phenolic. New names for crap still make it crap. The templates will warp in every direction, not to mention they wear pretty quick too.

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1702 days

#9 posted 12-19-2013 08:47 PM

I’m pretty sure all half blind jigs do that. For through dovetails I have used the Leigh and Rockler ones and they both do fine although the Leigh one is way more adjustable of course.

I hardly ever use my Leigh anymore as if you are only doing a single piece of furniture it’s just not worth the time and effort to setup and get set just right. It’s just easier to cut them by hand. I have a kitchen remodel coming up someday in the next couple years so I am going to keep it around for that but will probably sell it after I finish that.

View Jerry's profile


2654 posts in 1670 days

#10 posted 12-19-2013 09:11 PM

Thank you gentlemen one and all. You have answered my questions and so much more! I originally decided to learn to do hand cut dovetails after watching a Paull Sellars video on YouTube, and after two weeks of trying, I got a good joint. He made it look so quick and easy, as did Rob Cosman. I think we all know it can be quick, but not so easy to get it right. For me, it’s beginning to look like a well practiced woodworker can do as well with hand tools as they can with a jig, and without the setup. I was looking for an easier way for larger projects, but it’s beginning to look like I just need more practice and experience and the hand tools might turn out to actually be the easier way. Hmmm…..

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be.

View lepelerin's profile


495 posts in 2347 days

#11 posted 12-19-2013 10:14 PM

+1 for the leigh jig but it’s an expensive piece of equipment.

View RHaynes's profile


112 posts in 1642 days

#12 posted 12-19-2013 10:15 PM

By hand or with a router aren’t the only options. I actually cut them on the table saw with a jig. The layout time is the same as cutting them by hand, but there’s less hand-tool time involved when you use the table saw to define the pins and tails and take some wasting cuts to clear out material. I just clean up the joints with a chisel and/or a file and they’re done. The only trick is you have to be careful of tearout on the back part of the workpiece. I usually score it hard with a marking knife, make sure the depth of cut doesn’t get too close to the line, and periodically replace the fences on the jig to make sure there’s zero clearance between the blade and the fences.

-- "Sometimes the creative process requires foul language." -- Charles Neil.

View CClark's profile


3 posts in 2275 days

#13 posted 12-20-2013 02:59 AM

I love my older Leigh D1258R-24. I did a few upgrades on it. These sell for around $100 on the fleaBay. So, not expensive.

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