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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-04-2012, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
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best dovetailing router

I'm new to this forum, and I suspect the answer to my question could be found with the search function. I have a 40 year old, fixed-base Craftsman router with a 1/4-inch collet. I just purchased a new dovetailing jig (Rpckler's) that requires a router with a 1/2 inch collet. Which router is best for dovetail jig, plunge or fixed-base? I'd really prefer a new plunge router, but only if it will be compatible with the dovetailing jig.

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-04-2012, 12:00 PM
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Any router will work fine with a dovetail jig, even your old Craftsman. Your router uses the Craftsman plastic guide bushings which flex something awful; I suggest you watch the video about making a replacement sub base plate. The video shows how to do this and the sub base plate shown is for a Craftsman. If you do not wish to do this yourself you can buy a new kit like the Milescraft 1201 for about $20. This includes a replacement sub base plate, 8 plastic guide bushings, an adapter that lets you use PC style guide bushings and a centering pin.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-04-2012, 12:06 PM Thread Starter
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Mike... Thanks for the informative advice, especially how to "improve" my old Craftsman router.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-04-2012, 01:03 PM
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I've got that Rockler jig and a Craftsman router of about that vintage. I installed the Milescraft base Mike recommended and dedicated the router to the jig. I don't know what model router you have but mine is a certifiable PIA to set up. You don't need the 1/2" collet for the dovetail jig, the proper bits are available in 1/4" shanks.

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-04-2012, 01:10 PM
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" I'd really prefer a new plunge router, but only if it will be compatible with the dovetailing jig."
************************************************
A plunger here allows stage cutting of the ways, a plus; it's easy on the equipment.
A straight bit, in stage cuts, can also be used for the dovetail socket and followed with the appropriate dovetail bit.
Moreover, target depth, so critical on these things, is easier to hit with a plunger than a fixed base. Which? Maybe DW 621.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-04-2012, 02:43 PM
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You will do fine with a fixed base router for dovetails. You cannot use the plunge function anyway with the dovetail bit because it will ruin the joint. Depth settings are not a problem. I keep a PC690 fixed base router dedicated & setup for half-blind dovetails. If you are planning on buying just one router you can get a combo set with both bases. Either style will work for dovetails.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-05-2012, 09:39 AM
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The ideal router for dovetailing is a fixed base type with a good depth lock. It can either have a 1/4 or 1/2" collet, but the 1/2" dovetail bits will flex less and do a little bit better job, but 1/4" bits will work. If you work in metric, a router with an 8mm collet is the preferred size, or you can adapt 8mm dovetail bits to fit a 1/2" collet using one of the collet bushings that are sold for this. The router does not have to be very powerful. A smaller, lighter router of about 1 hp is adequate for dovetailing. Your arms will thank you for the light weight router after cutting dovetails for several hours.

For most dovetail jigs your router should be capable of using guide bushings and these bushings will need to be well centered to the collet. I've had the best luck with the Porter Cable style bushings, but these aren't required if your router uses a different style bushing that is non flexible and can be perfectly centered around the router collet. Some routers require an adapter to use the Porter Cable type bushings and there are bushing sets being sold that include this adapter, or it can be purchased from the router manufacturer. Another option is to replace the router base plate with one that has a counter bored 1 3/16" center hole to allow the Porter Cable bushings to be used.

With either style bushing you should use a centering jig to be certain that the bushing is centered to the router collet. These centering jigs are nothing more than a precision ground shaft that fits your router collet, with a cone shaped piece that slides snugly on this shaft. To use it you place the shaft in the router collet and tighten the collet, then slide the cone down on the shaft until the small end touches the router bushing. You then loosen the bushing and press the cone against it to force the bushing into the center. Then re-tighten the router bushing. You then remove the shaft and cone and replace it with the dovetail bit.

There are some dovetail jigs that use router bits with bearings attached. These do not require bushings to be used on the router, since the bearing on the bit rides against the fingers of the jig to guide the router. Since no router bushing is used, no centering steps are needed. The Katie jig is one of these.


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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-07-2012, 06:48 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Charley; that's a lot of good info.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-07-2012, 11:07 AM
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I use 4 fixed base routers with my dovetail jig. I have 2 Ridgid Trim Routers for stock that is 1/2 inch and less for both full size and miniature dovetails and box joints with my PC dovetail jig. On stock over 1/2 inch I use 2 Hitachi Routers. The reason I have 4 routers set up is to eliminate changing bits at each step. All I have to do is set the bit height for the stock thickness I am using at the time.

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-07-2012, 08:54 PM Thread Starter
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Mike... Does the adapter that will allow me to use PC bushings come in the Milescraft 1201 kit? Do you know if the Rigid universal bushing kit can be adapted for use with the 1201 kit? Would the PC bushings be better than the Milescraft twist-lok metal bushings?
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