Dovetail Jigs Tool Test Review
Models tested include the Leigh D4R Pro, Leigh Super 18, Porter-Cable 4212, Fast -Joint Precision Joinery System, Leigh RTJ400, MLCS Master Joinery Set, and Rockler Complete
Synopsis: Router dovetail jigs promise to make flawless dovetails quickly and easily. We tested the jigs that can make both half-blind dovetails and through-dovetails, cutting test joints in 7/8-in.-thick stock and trying variable spacing and deeper tails when possible. Models tested include the Leigh D4R Pro, Leigh Super 18, Porter-Cable 4212, Fast -Joint Precision Joinery System, Leigh RTJ400, MLCS Master Joinery Set, and Rockler Complete.
Everyone loves the look of hand-cut dovetails, but not everyone loves to cut them. That’s why many woodworkers turn to a router dovetail jig. These jigs promise to make flawless dovetails quickly and easily. To help you pick the best one, Fine Woodworking asked me to test the field. There’s a pile of dovetail jigs on the market, so we tested only the ones that can do both half-blinds and through-dovetails, as both are essential for furniture making.
Most of the jigs are used with a handheld router, but a couple are used with a router table. That means your table must have an insert plate that can accommodate a standard 1 3⁄8-in.-dia. bushing. By the way, for most of these jigs you’ll need a router with a 1⁄2-in. collet and a minimum of 1 1⁄2 hp. All of the jigs include the bushings and router bits you need for basic through- and half-blind dovetails, with some offering optional bits for different-size joints or thicknesses. All can rout both parts of a half-blind dovetail in a single pass (with even spacing), and some also can handle the workpieces separately to allow variable spacing and deeper tails, so I gave that a try, too. Whenever possible, I cut my test joints in 7⁄8-in.-thick stock to get an idea of the depth and spacing possible with each jig.
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