Dovetail jig advice

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Forum topic by sikrap posted 06-03-2009 10:29 PM 4510 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1121 posts in 2782 days

06-03-2009 10:29 PM


I am looking for a dovetail jig to help me get started making some drawers quickly enough so that the wife gets some things she wants. I know that it is far more rewarding to cut them by hand, but I’m a newb and don’t know how. I understand that some practice and some scraps will go a long way to educating me, but I don’t have the time right now. My question is this- Is the PC 5008 a good dovetail jig? I can get one for $35-$40, but I don’t want to waste money on crap. I tried to find some reviews on line and at some forums, but can’t seem to find anything. All opinions are welcome and appreciated. Thanks!!

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

12 replies so far

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5839 posts in 3008 days

#1 posted 06-03-2009 10:40 PM

IN my honest opinion some of the dovetail jigs in this price bracket leave a lot to be desired when it comes to functionability and finish ease of use etc.We had a chap here last week cursing one he bought and it was similar to your ideas at the moment .I feel maybe someone can offer better advice as I don’t actually own one of these type anyway hold fire til you get better advised by the good people here.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View ellen35's profile


2720 posts in 2855 days

#2 posted 06-03-2009 11:00 PM

I own a Leigh Super 12. It was a little pricey but…
The first dovetail box I cut came out so – so. The second was really good and the third…well, it was pretty near perfect! Short learning curve with this…you just need the $$. I got the Super 12 as it was the least expensive. I watched a tutorial on dovetailing on the Wood Whisperer website. It was excellent.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

936 posts in 2816 days

#3 posted 06-04-2009 12:29 AM

I owned a LEIGH too…same as Ellen, impressed with the acuracy in the same day of purchase…..I sold it after completed a job and got 90% of the investment back!

-- 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 a1Jim's profile


115177 posts in 3000 days

#4 posted 06-04-2009 06:08 AM

Hey Dave
I own four different dovetail jigs. the $49 jig may do the job but don’t expect much. They are hard to get set up and are limited. You can spend up to $750 for a dovetail jig by Leigh or porter cable . But if you want a good basic set up I prefer the set the MLCS set that John Nixon does a great demo on how it works on you tube. If I was starting over I would just do hand dovetails it’s one way how people measure the worth of custom wood furniture. You can do it ,anyone can it just takes practise practise practise .There are a number of how to’s on hand cut dovetails out there. The one I like best is by frank Klausz called “Dove tail a drawer”
but there is information all over the net. Here’s a link for the MLCS Jig

-- Custom furniture

View Neodogg's profile


94 posts in 2850 days

#5 posted 06-04-2009 06:47 AM

anyone every use the Rockler jig?

-- If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem!

View LesB's profile


1228 posts in 2866 days

#6 posted 06-04-2009 07:23 AM

The PC 5008 is a rather primitive jig but with care it can do the job. For not too much more, $169, you can get the PC 4112 model which is easier to use and does a better job. Both of those jigs make fixed size dovetails so it obvious they are not hand made but on a drawer who really notices; especially if they are blind dove tails.
The guys suggesting the Leigh jigs are correct. It is the “Rolls Royce” of jigs and the price reflects it. It will do everything in the way of dove tail making but make those very thin pins that perfectionists have not started using so they can prove their dovetails were made them by hand. I sometimes wonder how strong those thin pins are??

I have the 24” Leigh and love it…. the learning curve for the Leigh is steep but once figured out is great. If you expect to make lots of dove tails in the future I too would suggest getting the Leigh, eventually.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 2948 days

#7 posted 06-04-2009 04:18 PM

I own the rockler jig, and it’s crap. The jig always is off just a hair, which might be fine for some, but not me. I used it for years before getting down to my roots and doing them by hand. It took me the same amount of time to get good at hand cut dovetails as it did with the jig. The only difference is that I can pump out 4 drawers of amateur quality with the jig versus one of high quality by hand. If I was building cabinets for a living I would get the leigh or the pc omnijig, but for fine furniture, I will stick to doing them by hand.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3072 days

#8 posted 06-04-2009 05:49 PM

if you need to make lots of drawers – now might NOT be the right time to learn dovetailing by hand – although it’s a technique worth learning in the long run.

if you just want to crank out drawers right now, and plan to make lots of dovetail drawers in the future – invest in a good jig like the Leigh or Akeda – they will serve you right, produce excellent results – and keep their value if you ever choose to sell them (as Moai mentioned).

another option would be to make the drawers with a different joinery all together – stub tenon? inverted rabbet? box joints on the table saw/router table? depending on the application – these might be just as strong and decorative as dovetailed drawers. and may require $0 in jigs (depending on what scrap you have a round and other tools/machines at your disposal) – just another though “outside the drawer”

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2715 posts in 2709 days

#9 posted 06-04-2009 06:06 PM

I would spend more and get something like the Porter Cable 4212 at around $169. I’m sure there are others just as good. Check out reviews before you decide. I have the PC, and it’s not too bad to set up. They all have a learning curve, so be prepared. All it takes is patience, common sense, and lots of scrap material to test cut. I don’t think I would try too hard to save a buck on a really cheap jig. You probably wouldn’t use it. Whatever you choose, make sure your router bit is perfectly centered with the template guide. You’ll get a lot better fit .


View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3298 days

#10 posted 06-04-2009 06:16 PM

I have a $49 no-name jig that does okay, but I never could get the joints quite right. I also have the PC 4210 ($130 at Lowes) and it makes perfect joints. I’ve used other PC jigs and always had good results.

-- -- --

View Shopsmithtom's profile


787 posts in 3618 days

#11 posted 06-04-2009 07:26 PM

About a year ago I bought a cheap little Craftsman jig on ebay for about $8 plus shipping. It’s plastic & 8”, which is big enough for most drawers. It set up pretty easily and after a couple of practice cuts, has made really nice dovetails.

Now, I don’t expect that it will last forever or that it will do all that the pricier jigs do, but for drawers & some small jewelry boxes, (see my last project) it has worked well. And…it was CHEAP. And it shows no sign of dying, yet. They’re on ebay all the time. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View ajosephg's profile


1878 posts in 2984 days

#12 posted 06-04-2009 07:40 PM

After a lot of consideration I recently acquired a PC 4212 and I am well satisfied. It comes with all the bits and bushings needed to use.

Main thing is to spend some time (hour +) reading the instructions, and getting their supplemental instruction manual. There are also soome good instructional videos on the ‘net that are good.

-- Joe

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