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Forum topic by Joel_B posted 12-30-2014 09:05 PM 1637 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Joel_B

294 posts in 846 days


12-30-2014 09:05 PM

Ok so I have never made a dovetail joint but will need to for making some drawers.
Here is what I am considering:

PC 4212 – Seems like good bang for the buck, but setup seems clumsy, especially lining the wood up to the scribed lines on the fixture, this was mentioned in a video. Also using a free hand router and flying wood chips are problematic.

Keller 1500 – Kind expensive for a piece of phenolic but I guess you are also paying for the bearing guided bits. Seems more foolproof than the 4212 but only does through dovetails. You have to make your own clamping system but it can be used on a router table which would be my preference.

Incra LS17 with PRO-II Joinery fence. More money than I wanted spend but seems like it might be the easiest and best to use on a router table and more versatile. Might be worth the extra $120 over the PC 4212.

-- Joel, Encinitas, CA


26 replies so far

View wbrisett's profile

wbrisett

201 posts in 1814 days


#1 posted 12-30-2014 10:37 PM

Joel: be aware that you’ll also need special bits for the Incra system. Those are extra. There are a couple of options out there including Eagle America and Whiteside.

http://www.eagleamerica.com/product/v100-3442/ea_-_router_bit_sets
http://www.woodpeck.com/whitesidejoin6pcset.html

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WarrenC

5 posts in 708 days


#2 posted 12-30-2014 10:45 PM

I have the Leigh Jig. Very expensive, but it does a good job. Only problem is that it does a terrible job on plywood(Baltic Birch) drawers, chipping everywhere

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pintodeluxe

4858 posts in 2278 days


#3 posted 12-31-2014 12:58 AM

The PC jig for sure. It excels at making half blind dovetails for drawers. I us it all the time, and made some 11-1/4” tall drawers recently. They assembled easily with a light tap. It is a solid jig, and easy to set up as well.
It has two limitations, neither of which bother me.
1. 12” wide board is max. No big deal, most drawers are less than a foot wide.
2. Drawer heights need to be 3-1/4”, 4-1/4”, 5-1/4” etc. to show symmetrical dovetails. I plan my designs accordingly and it works well. If you use false drawer fronts as many do, this is easy to get around. For instance if your false front is 7” high, you could make your drawer box 6-1/4” high.

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

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JAAune

1643 posts in 1782 days


#4 posted 12-31-2014 01:23 AM

Is the need to make drawers a one-time thing or ongoing? Is it for enjoyment or utilitarian purposes? Perhaps you’ve already had this discussion with yourself but dovetail jigs aren’t always the route to go when doing drawer boxes. There are other options which are sometimes more appropriate.

If it’s utilitarian and only a small run of drawers are needed, it’s usually more economical to just buy dovetailed drawer boxes. They average around $50 per drawer for pre-finished, hardwood boxes.

If it’s for fun and only a small number of drawers are needed, hand-cut is a lot easier than people think.

People who are skilled at tuning bandsaws and good at jig-making can cut perfect dovetails on the bandsaw.

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

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kdc68

2526 posts in 1742 days


#5 posted 12-31-2014 01:45 AM

Unless they HAVE to be dovetailed drawers, there are alternatives such as a locking rabbet joint. Easy to do with a table saw. Here’s a PDF from Woodsmith that outlines it well if you are unfamiliar with this simple joint

http://www.woodsmithshop.com/download/509/locking-rabbet-joints.pdf

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

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Joel_B

294 posts in 846 days


#6 posted 12-31-2014 02:05 AM

Thanks for all the great feedback.
I am all for doing things with hand tools when it makes sense to me.
I have planes and chisels and enjoy using them, I don’t yet have any good saws but that will be coming.
This is something I don’t want to do by hand because of the learning curve and time involved in actually doing it.
If I had the time I would give it a try.
I will be doing quite a few drawers for some bedroom dressers and possibly kitchen cabinets and shop drawers.
I have considered other joints like the lock miter and they are certainly strong enough and easy enough but I am somehow stuck on the traditional look of the dovetail joints.
Now that I know more about the Incra system, I think I am leaning towards the PC 4212.
It does what I need and at a significantly lower cost, I just have to realize the setup is going to take some time to get right.

-- Joel, Encinitas, CA

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Everett1

213 posts in 1999 days


#7 posted 12-31-2014 02:12 AM

I have a Leigh from the 80’s. It’s so nice, but I got it for the right price

-- Ev in Framingham, MA

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JayT

4783 posts in 1676 days


#8 posted 12-31-2014 02:16 AM


I am all for doing things with hand tools when it makes sense to me.
I have planes and chisels and enjoy using them, I don t yet have any good saws but that will be coming.
This is something I don t want to do by hand because of the learning curve and time involved in actually doing it.
If I had the time I would give it a try.

With these comments in mind, have you thought about doing them by hand with a magnetic guide to help? A guide will dramatically reduce the learning curve of hand cut dovetails as you start out and the guides are relatively inexpensive. There are several of us on here that use these types of guides. Veritas makes one and I purchased one from David Barron and absolutely love it. I did a review of the guide here and that review post also includes a video showing how to use the guide and gives a good idea of how fast you can make a set of dovetails by hand.

I think I am leaning towards the PC 4212.
It does what I need and at a significantly lower cost, I just have to realize the setup is going to take some time to get right.

Yes, it does. Personally, I think the learning curve on router jigs is just as long or longer than learning to cut by hand. If you prefer to use the router, that is fine, I just wanted to present another possibility.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

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Joel_B

294 posts in 846 days


#9 posted 12-31-2014 03:24 AM


I am all for doing things with hand tools when it makes sense to me.
I have planes and chisels and enjoy using them, I don t yet have any good saws but that will be coming.
This is something I don t want to do by hand because of the learning curve and time involved in actually doing it.
If I had the time I would give it a try.

With these comments in mind, have you thought about doing them by hand with a magnetic guide to help? A guide will dramatically reduce the learning curve of hand cut dovetails as you start out and the guides are relatively inexpensive. There are several of us on here that use these types of guides. Veritas makes one and I purchased one from David Barron and absolutely love it. I did a review of the guide here and that review post also includes a video showing how to use the guide and gives a good idea of how fast you can make a set of dovetails by hand.

I think I am leaning towards the PC 4212.
It does what I need and at a significantly lower cost, I just have to realize the setup is going to take some time to get right.

Yes, it does. Personally, I think the learning curve on router jigs is just as long or longer than learning to cut by hand. If you prefer to use the router, that is fine, I just wanted to present another possibility.

- JayT

I have heard of those magnetic guides. Being that I would like avoid the noise and chips of a router I am going to look into hand cutting with one of these guides. Since I plan to get into guitar making those skills and tools will probably be needed anyway.

-- Joel, Encinitas, CA

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pintodeluxe

4858 posts in 2278 days


#10 posted 12-31-2014 03:42 AM

One thing I like to do with my PC jig is use a larger 14 degree dovetail bit for a different look. I stain the drawer fronts before assembly for more contrast.
My first time using the jig took 20-30 minutes to get tight fitting joints. It takes even less time now.
Good luck with whatever you decide.

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

View runswithscissors's profile

runswithscissors

2189 posts in 1490 days


#11 posted 12-31-2014 03:58 AM

I like the PC 4212. I used to use a Craftsman dovetail jig. All of them (in my experience) have a learning curve, but once you’ve mastered your jig, you can crank out dovetails very rapidly. I did 23 drawers using dovetails for my kitchen remodel. Would have been pretty tedious doing them by hand. The nice thing about them is that when you get your setup right, you can assemble the drawers without glue, and they hold themselves together. Of course, you do use glue for a permanent job. But it is obvious that they are very strong.

I don’t find the router chips to be a problem—just an annoyance when you have to clean up. Some routers have provision for a vacuum hookup, but my PC 690 doesn’t have that, and I don’t find it to be a problem.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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ChefHDAN

808 posts in 2315 days


#12 posted 12-31-2014 12:49 PM

Take a peek at the woodtek jig I bought it when they had a deal for all of the templates included. It has a kinda crappy manual to understand the alignment set up, but once you do it it makes sense. I don’t use it much, because for most stuff the drawer lock joint works fine, but I don’t cry about the $$$ for it to sit in the shop either.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View johnstoneb's profile

johnstoneb

2145 posts in 1638 days


#13 posted 12-31-2014 02:36 PM

I have the PC. It does an excellent job. Remember you have setup to do on all dovetail jigs. You do need to read the manual carefully when setting up. I believe (my manual is in shop) if you plan your heights in 1/4” increments (ie 1 1/4, 1 1/2, 1 3/4 et.) you will get symmetrical dovetails. That is covered in the setup in the manual if you read it close enough. The mini template can go down to 1/8 increments. PC also has a manual for advanced dovetails that shows you how to setup for inlayed, end to end, skipped pin and others. I think all the jigs require you to use a router freehand and dust collection is a problem on all of them. Once you learn how to setup the PC setup is fairly quick and once setup you can crank out dovetails quickly. One thing it is quicker if you have two routers one setup for tails and on setup for pins you have to change bits when changing fromtails to pins. It takes almost as long to change bits as it does to convert the jig from tails to pins.

One thing I would recommend is learn to cut dovtails by layout and cut dovetails by hand before going the power route. It make setup on the power route easier because you have an understanding of why you’re doint things.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

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runswithscissors

2189 posts in 1490 days


#14 posted 12-31-2014 08:29 PM

The PC 4212 does not require you to use 2 bits. All the cuts are made with the dovetail bit. Their bit is 1/2” shank. Though I haven’t checked to see compatibility, I believe Grizzly’s 1/2” shank bits will work. Don’t know about 1/4” shank bits—whether they would work with the 4212. Of course, you also use a bushing to fit the template.

Both boards for a corner are done at once, with one setup. You do have to remember to shift from side to side on the template for opposite corners.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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rwe2156

2198 posts in 946 days


#15 posted 03-05-2015 02:25 PM

I gave up entirely on power dovetails. Just sold my jig matter of fact.
With practice, I submit you can have 2 drawers built by the time you get done tweaking the setup.

Then there’s the noise, the dust, the ear protection, the eye protection, the cleanup…..

When you look at a nice dovetail, what do you want to think,

“I really had that machine dialed in perfect” or
“That took some skills!!”

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

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