Leigh Industries is celebrating its 25th anniversary with the release of a low-cost version of its popular router dovetail jigs. Using lower-cost materials and offering limited features, the new Leigh Super Jig series will start at less than half the price of its high-end D4R dovetail jig.

New economics
The rising costs of aluminum and shipping, and a poor exchange rate between the United States and Canada, where it operates its headquarters, were two influences that drove the company to introduce the lower-priced jig, Leigh General Manager Matt Grisley said.

The cost of aluminum has skyrocketed in the last two years, causing tool makers to raise prices across the board. Leigh cut costs by constructing the Super Jigs with glass-filled nylon end caps that hold together a two-part aluminum-extrusion body. The more expensive D4R, by contrast, has a single aluminum-extrusion body that is machined to size.

"Just by not having machining to do saves a lot of money," Grisley said. "And there's a lot less aluminum used."

Price competitive
The timing of its announcement better pits Leigh against rival Porter-Cable, which is expected to release a competitively priced upgrade to its OmniJig joinery system any day now.

The Leigh Super Jig will cost $199 for a 12-in. version, $259 for a 18-in. version, and $329 for a 24-in. version. Dovetail jigs from other manufacturers such as Woodpecker and Akeda range in price from $80 to $500. Decked out with all the bits and accessories, the Leigh DR4 can cost as much as $900.

Feature breakdown
New features include the ability to cut 5/16-in. and 5/8-in. box joints, and half-blind dovetails in a single pass. And a newly designed elliptical bushing system allows for easy adjustments to fit a joint. There's also an on-board tip sheet, which details all of the basic setups most users will need without having to search around for the instruction manual.

One limitation to the Super Jig is that it can only cut dovetails with a single-width pin, unlike the higher-end model, which has variable-width capabilities. However, by manually adjusting the pins, you can space the dovetails any way you like.

VSR Dust Collection System

A new dust-collection accessory for all Leigh dovetail jigs catches dust and chips directly below the cut. Photos: Leigh Industries

New dust collection
In addition to its new line of jigs, the company also will introduce a dust-collection accessory called the VSR, or Vacuum and Router Support, which moves with the router to always capture dust and chips directly below the cut. The VSR also features an aluminum rest, which provides extra support for the router while you cut and allows you to park the router on the jig when not in use.

The VRS is sold separately and will be available for all model dovetail jigs from Leigh, including those no longer available, the company said.

Roland Johnson is a contributing editor to Fine Woodworking based in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota.

Posted on: June 7, 2007