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The Akeda jig truly is a new approach to cutting dovetail joints—and a successful one. If it were 24 in. wide, it would give the Leigh D4R tough competition for the best-overall award.
The Akeda comes completely assembled, and setup is a snap. The jig is calibrated at the factory and no adjustments are needed. Within 30 minutes I had read through the excellent instructions and made a precise, finished joint with variable spacing.
The Akeda’s uniqueness comes from its boxlike design, which employs movable guide fingers that snap into a guide rail at 1/8-in. increments. The tails are cut first; then the tail fingers are replaced by tapered pin fingers. The clamping bars are simple and fast to adjust—one of the best designs of any jig. They require only one knob, with an internal gear system keeping pressure even.
The Akeda bits are not a standard size, so I’d keep a few extras on hand in case one breaks.
PREVIOUS REVIEW: 4/1/2003
The usual knock against router dovetail jigs is that speed and convenience are illusory, and that good woodworkers can hand-cut the joints in less time than it takes to adjust the fences, the stops and the depth settings associated with a jig. This point is probably closest to the mark when it comes to machining variably spaced dovetails. Jigs for such work are notorious for their mechanical complexity. But a new jig on the market, the Akeda DC-16V, takes much of the hair-pulling out of dovetailing with a router.
The Akeda deploys its finger templates in an ingenious way. Instead of sliding along a bar and locking with a setscrew, each guide’s pair of integral cogs meshes with corresponding slots in the jig’s back rail. The guides can be located and locked in place with ease and precision—either the cogs engage the slots or they don’t. Penciled reference marks, transferred to the back rail from embossed centerlines in the fingers, make accurate changeovers from tail guides to pin guides a snap.
On the downside, the dovetails can be spaced in increments of only 1/8 in. But, as I see it, the simplicity of this jig and the shorter set-up times that result make the spacing limitation acceptable.
When the dust had cleared, though, the Akeda had reliably produced dovetails that needed the barest of hand taps to send home, joints whose tails and pins typically measured within a tolerance of 0.005 in.
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