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Discussion Starter #1
I've only ever used a router maybe twice in my life and just got my new Leigh D4R Pro in the mail the other day so I figured I'd give it a shot. I cut my first through dovetail and it stunk, I took too much off and the fit was very loose. I watched the Leigh CD again and added a bit to my pins length to fix the loose issue. They seemed to fit perfectly the second time but I had a gap between my pins and tail.

The gap was because my pin was too long. I cheated and chopped off the pins (maybe (1/16 )with my miter saw but was curious what caused it? Even after cutting it with a miter saw they are still a tiny bit unflush, nothing a little sanding wouldn't fix. I would say I am pleased with my second attempt. I feel with a little help my third will be perfect.
 

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how proud were the pins before you trimmed them????
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
If I had to guess 1/16. Like I mentioned after trimming it down the joints fit snug, but are still a tiny amount maybe 1/64 sticking out on each side.

Maybe shortening my straight router bit depth on my pin cuts would do it?
 

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bit set to cut too deep or the setting on the gray scale needs tweaking...
both...
use a LA plane yo trim that 1/64'' or a paring chisel...
avoid sanding to remoce material because of the different grains of wood...
 

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Your bit depth is too deep by the amount the pins are too long. Check the manual, page 8-16 on adjusting bit depth.

Rather than change bits and re-adjust, I've found it very helpful to have two routers with a bit in each.
 
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I've only ever used a router maybe twice in my life and just got my new Leigh D4R Pro in the mail the other day so I figured I'd give it a shot. I cut my first through dovetail and it stunk, I took too much off and the fit was very loose. I watched the Leigh CD again and added a bit to my pins length to fix the loose issue. They seemed to fit perfectly the second time but I had a gap between my pins and tail.

The gap was because my pin was too long. I cheated and chopped off the pins (maybe (1/16 )with my miter saw but was curious what caused it? Even after cutting it with a miter saw they are still a tiny bit unflush, nothing a little sanding wouldn't fix. I would say I am pleased with my second attempt. I feel with a little help my third will be perfect.
Eric, for a guy who has only used a router a couple of times, I'd say you didn't do too badly.

Another hour or two of practice and you'll be knocking out perfect dovetails by the boatload. :smile:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
bit set to cut too deep or the setting on the gray scale needs tweaking...
both...
use a LA plane yo trim that 1/64'' or a paring chisel...
avoid sanding to remoce material because of the different grains of wood...
That is what I figured. I like to think about what I think went wrong then ask to see if my conclusion was the right one. It was just my first test piece so I am not too worried about it for now. An orbital sander wouldn't work? I don't have any hand planers or chisels.

Your bit depth is too deep by the amount the pins are too long. Check the manual, page 8-16 on adjusting bit depth.

Rather than change bits and re-adjust, I've found it very helpful to have two routers with a bit in each.
From now unless I get comfortable with it I might set my depth a little shy of what I think it should be. I remember when making the cuts being worried it was too long. I do have another router but its a cheap Black and Decker Storm plunge router and wasn't sure if it was of good enough quality, I didn't want to risk it messing up my work.

Eric, for a guy who has only used a router a couple of times, I'd say you didn't do too badly.

Another hour or two of practice and you'll be knocking out perfect dovetails by the boatload. :smile:
I used one once when I was maybe 13-14 (over 20 years ago)and one for a few minutes last year. I am new to pretty much all of this but as long as I can follow simple instructions through online videos and articles, with the help from you guys, it is really not too difficult.

My biggest issue is I have to get some lumber. I gave almost all of mine away to my neighbor when we built a tree house for his kids last fall. I literally have only a couple pieces to practice on at the moment. I need to get busy because I'll be starting my first project as soon as my friend gets their tax return back. I am going to build something like this (below)......and I want to incorporate through and sliding dovetails.
 

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That is what I figured. I like to think about what I think went wrong then ask to see if my conclusion was the right one. It was just my first test piece so I am not too worried about it for now. An orbital sander wouldn't work? I don't have any hand planers or chisels.



From now unless I get comfortable with it I might set my depth a little shy of what I think it should be. I remember when making the cuts being worried it was too long. I do have another router but its a cheap Black and Decker Storm plunge router and wasn't sure if it was of good enough quality, I didn't want to risk it messing up my work.

I used one once when I was maybe 13-14 (over 20 years ago)and one for a few minutes last year. I am new to pretty much all of this but as long as I can follow simple instructions through online videos and articles, with the help from you guys, it is really not too difficult.

My biggest issue is I have to get some lumber. I gave almost all of mine away to my neighbor when we built a tree house for his kids last fall. I literally have only a couple pieces to practice on at the moment. I need to get busy because I'll be starting my first project as soon as my friend gets their tax return back. I am going to build something like this (below)......and I want to incorporate through and sliding dovetails.

Certainly wish you all the best on your project. Quite ambitious for a first serious try.
 

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That is what I figured. I like to think about what I think went wrong then ask to see if my conclusion was the right one. It was just my first test piece so I am not too worried about it for now. An orbital sander wouldn't work? I don't have any hand planers or chisels.

I am going to build something like this (below)......and I want to incorporate through and sliding dovetails.

sure an ROS would work but you need to be really careful because the face side of the wood will sand away much easier than the end grain leaving a wavy profile...
hold the sander as flat as you can and keep it moving...
100/120 grit is really course for this....
do you own any chisels at all???
can you sharpen really well...
if you want a decent life time set look to the Stanley Fat Max chisels MADE IN ENGLAND....
the made in China ones are a crap shoot...
just need to look for them...
Narex from the Czech Republic are very good buy/value and not bad chisels either.....

the dovetails...
do you plan to use them elsewhere other than the drawers...

nice well done center you have there...
for those shelves dado the side walls...
insert/glue the shelves into the dado...
pin/pocket screw the shelves from the bottom of the shelf into the side walls and avoid the fasteners and filler from the outside...
 
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From now unless I get comfortable with it I might set my depth a little shy of what I think it should be. I remember when making the cuts being worried it was too long.
You only get one chance at bit depth with a dovetail bit. If you adjust the depth and make a second pass, you'll end up with notches on the sides of the cut.

The only way I've found to get consistent results with the dovetail jig is to tinker with scrap OF THE SAME THICKNESS AS YOUR FINAL WORKPIECE until you get a good joint ON THE FIRST PASS. The reason is this: When you put the workpiece back in the jig for a second try, it will be a thousandth or so away from its original position. The router bit will shave that thousandth off one side of your pins or tails, but it doesn't put any wood back on the other side. So your pins or tails get narrower and the cuts get wider. That may make your test joint fit, but it's not easily repeatable.

So keep tinkering with scrap. Cut the pins and tails off your two test pieces and try again until you get good joints on the first pass. Then you're ready to move on to your workpiece.

That's why I like having two routers for dovetailing. Once you find the proper bit depth, you can quit fussing with that and only worry about adjusting the jig properly, and keeping track of the inside and outside of the drawer, and remembering to use the correct bit on the correct side of the jig, and I forget what else . . . .

Oh, you'll need a second guide bushing to use two routers.

I took a Sharpie and wrote INSIDE 2 ME on one side of the jig and OUTSIDE 2 ME on the flip side of the jig. The color of the ink matches the color of the router I use on that side. That's after multiple screw-ups where I put the board in backwards or grabbed the wrong router.

A lot of things have to be right to make good dovetails, and a momentary lapse of attention can leave you cursing. But it's wonderful when it all comes together.
Keep at it, and Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Certainly wish you all the best on your project. Quite ambitious for a first serious try.
I am pretty confident as long as I take my time making sure everything is measured correctly and the tools are dialed in correctly it will turn out perfect.

sure an ROS would work but you need to be really care careful because the face side of the wood will sand away much easier than the end grain leaving a wavy profile...
hold the sander as flat as you can keep it moving...
100/120 grit is really course for this....
do you own any chisels at all???
can you sharpen really well...
if you want a decent life time set look to the Stanley Fat Max chisels MADE IN ENGLAND chisels....
the made in China ones are a crap shoot...
just need to look for them...
Narex from the Czech Republic are very good buy/value.....

the dovetails...
do you plan to use them elsewhere other than the drawers...

nice well done center you have there...
for those shelves dado the side walls...
insert/glue the shelves into the dado...
pin/pocket screw the shelves from the bottom into the side walls and avoid the fasteners and filler from the outside...
I just started buying the tools to do this a month ago. I might own one chisel if I can find it, its probably in rough shape. I do have a double wheel stone grinder but rarely have used it. I was going to do sliding dovetails for the shelves so I didn't have to do any pocket screws. I wanted to see if I could possible do some sort of dovetailing for the overall boxes on the entertainment stand.

All in all its going to come down to if I can find cheap enough lumber to work with. If not I'll have to go with oak veneer plywood which I would prefer not to do and it would limit me on how to build it. The chisels will probably have to wait a few months until I can get more funds.

My biggest concern with the entertainment center is I'm not sure how I was going to connect the three segments (boxes) together and if I need to join to boards the best way to do so. Biscuits? I want to build something that is going to last that I can be proud of. Something that can be moved around without parts coming loose or falling apart.

Whats the norm as far as a good brand of wood glue goes?


You only get one chance at bit depth with a dovetail bit. If you adjust the depth and make a second pass, you'll end up with notches on the sides of the cut.

The only way I've found to get consistent results with the dovetail jig is to tinker with scrap OF THE SAME THICKNESS AS YOUR FINAL WORKPIECE until you get a good joint ON THE FIRST PASS. The reason is this: When you put the workpiece back in the jig for a second try, it will be a thousandth or so away from its original position. The router bit will shave that thousandth off one side of your pins or tails, but it doesn't put any wood back on the other side. So your pins or tails get narrower and the cuts get wider. That may make your test joint fit, but it's not easily repeatable.

So keep tinkering with scrap. Cut the pins and tails off your two test pieces and try again until you get good joints on the first pass. Then you're ready to move on to your workpiece.

That's why I like having two routers for dovetailing. Once you find the proper bit depth, you can quit fussing with that and only worry about adjusting the jig properly, and keeping track of the inside and outside of the drawer, and remembering to use the correct bit on the correct side of the jig, and I forget what else . . . .

Oh, you'll need a second guide bushing to use two routers.

I took a Sharpie and wrote INSIDE 2 ME on one side of the jig and OUTSIDE 2 ME on the flip side of the jig. The color of the ink matches the color of the router I use on that side. That's after multiple screw-ups where I put the board in backwards or grabbed the wrong router.

A lot of things have to be right to make good dovetails, and a momentary lapse of attention can leave you cursing. But it's wonderful when it all comes together.
Keep at it, and Good Luck!
I think I was already hooked the second time I attempted them. Once I am ready to start my project I will do plenty of test passed on scraps before making my finals cuts. I have multiple bushings but will have to pick up more templates. Had I had more suitable scrap laying around I would have gone dovetail crazy.
 

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1... I am pretty confident as long as I take my time making sure everything is measured correctly and the tools are dialed in correctly it will turn out perfect.
2... I just started buying the tools to do this a month ago. I might own one chisel if I can find it, its probably in rough shape.
3... I do have a double wheel stone grinder but rarely have used it.
4... I was going to do sliding dovetails for the shelves so I didn't have to do any pocket screws. I wanted to see if I could possible do some sort of dovetailing for the overall boxes on the entertainment stand.
5... All in all its going to come down to if I can find cheap enough lumber to work with. If not I'll have to go with oak veneer plywood which I would prefer not to do and it would limit me on how to build it.
6... The chisels will probably have to wait a few months until I can get more funds.
7... My biggest concern with the entertainment center is I'm not sure how I was going to connect the three segments (boxes) together and
8... if I need to join to boards the best way to do so. Biscuits?
9... I want to build something that is going to last that I can be proud of. Something that can be moved around without parts coming loose or falling apart.
10... Whats the norm as far as a good brand of wood glue goes?

11.. I think I was already hooked the second time I attempted them. Once I am ready to start my project I will do plenty of test passed on scraps before making my finals cuts. I have multiple bushings but will have to pick up more templates. Had I had more suitable scrap laying around I would have gone dovetail crazy.
1... w/o a doubt..
2... same thing many of did decades ago and are still buying..
try to buy the best you can from the start so you don't have to buy it again later...
3... not a good move to to sharpen on a grinder..
you'll never get ''really'' sharp...
4... dadoes are way stronger and simpler.. sliders the 1st time around can be an undertaking...
save the sliders for your drawer glides...
5... can't help you there...
6... buy one chisel at a time...
start w/ a ¾'' and then move up and down from there..
or the 4 piece set should do you well + 1 really wide chisel... (use it as the paring/trimmer chisel)..
in the long run it's more expensive to do it that way but a smaller initial outlay...
get a really cheap chisel and use it a utility chisel.. ie: glue scraper...
7... screws, nuts an bolts but NEVER EVER use drywall screws...
8... Splines.. hard to beat and way better than biscuits...
A slot cutter set w/ multiple dia bearings is a very good way to go...
save the money you'd spend on a biscuit joiner and use it for something that you will get more mileage out of and will multitask for you....
get the joiner later if you still see the need..
Freud Tools | 2" (Dia.) Stacked Slotting Set
Buy CMT 800.506.11 Slot Cutter Router Bit Set 1/2"SH 1/8"-23/32"H 1-7/8"D at Woodcraft.com
9... dadoes w/ the pocket holes...
a slider if it's torqued can break at the neck of the pin...
good place to start... very handy little number...
Shop Kreg Mini Kreg Jig Pocket Hole Kit at Lowes.com
10.. most use the PVA glues ie: TiteBond made by Franklin...
I use Franklin.. same glue for less money...

11.. Welcome to the club...

.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the heads up. Unfortunately I already bought a PC Biscuit/Plate Joiner. I do already have a Kreg Pocket hole jig. Unless its something that is cheap my budget is completely tapped out for awhile and I'll have to make do with what I have for the time being.
 

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If you begin using two routers, you will probably find that your drawer sides and ends are offset like this (exaggerated for clarity). This is because the two router bushings are not identically positioned with respect to the bit. You'll need to fiddle with the bushing position to get it right. It's sort of counter-intuitive to me. Seems I had to move the bushing opposite to the way I thought it should go to get a better fit. Anyway, it's one more thing to fiddle with and get right while you're practicing on scrap.

Then, once you have everything set up just like you want it, and you're making perfect dovetails, that's when you need to use a router for something else. That's why you buy a THIRD router, then a FOURTH and so on . . .
 

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Discussion Starter #15
If you begin using two routers, you will probably find that your drawer sides and ends are offset like this (exaggerated for clarity). This is because the two router bushings are not identically positioned with respect to the bit. You'll need to fiddle with the bushing position to get it right. It's sort of counter-intuitive to me. Seems I had to move the bushing opposite to the way I thought it should go to get a better fit. Anyway, it's one more thing to fiddle with and get right while you're practicing on scrap.

Then, once you have everything set up just like you want it, and you're making perfect dovetails, that's when you need to use a router for something else. That's why you buy a THIRD router, then a FOURTH and so on . . .
I'm not ready to invest in a third or fourth router that is for sure. I'll make sure I hold onto my scrap from now on so I have plenty of wood laying around to test on. What are your opinions on instead of using biscuits or splines, using dowels to join two 1x8 pieces of wood to make a 1x16?
 

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two routers for the jig...
one w/ a straight bit for hogging...
2nd for the DT bit...

if you set the straight really deep (over cut) you fill what will amount to small dado in the tail piece that you fill repair w/ a high contrast wood filler...
 

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What are your opinions on instead of using biscuits or splines, using dowels to join two 1x8 pieces of wood to make a 1x16?
Edge-to-edge glue-ups have such large glue areas that they are plenty strong without any dowels or biscuits. I consider biscuits and dowels to be alignment aids instead of strength enhancers for these glue-ups. If my boards are both straight, I don't use anything but glue. Titebond III.

Now end-grain glue-ups are a different story. The end grain soaks up glue, and the glued surface is usually small with potential for heavy loading forces. They need help in the form of biscuits, dowels, finger joints or dovetails or such.
 
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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks guys. In case any of you guys ebay. For another 2 hours or so if you spend $75 or more on your total purchase you get $15 off. Code is C15SPRING I added 4 items to my cart all totaled up to $85 and it worked for me. Also since I was careful to make sure they were not listed in the Industrial category I got 2% back ebay bucks, 2% back on ebates, and 2% on my double cash card. So all in all I got a igaging vertical digital 3:1 guide, a igaging digital I54 Fractions Caliper 6", a brass igaging marking 2:1 tool and a Dowl It Wellman Self Centering Dowell Guide all for less than $65 shipped.

Ebay has been having a lot of $15 for $75 or $20 off for $100 off days three in the last 10 days or so. So if you are like me and like picking up a few odds and ends when ebay has these deals let me know and I have no issue messaging anyone if and when I find out on the deals. They are normally only good for 5 hours or so.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Well I ended up buying my second Bosch 1617 Router so it would be easier to just switch routers instead of changing my bits. My issue is even though the dovetails are tighter than my first attempt I am having an offset issue. Meaning when I connect the boards together the edges do not align. They are off quite a bit maybe 1/8". I cut multiple times and the only thing I came up with is its not the set up of the jig but me using multiple routers. I am using the Bosch RA1125 Template Guides but never centered either so I am guessing that is the issue? I have never used a centering cone but did buy the RA1151. Both routers are using the same exact 7/16 template. Considering how perfect the boards lined up using one router am I correct that my issue is in the set up of the second router?

The new fingers I cut fit into the first dovetails I cut and line up correctly. However the new fingers I cut do not fit into the new tails. The tail bit is on the new router I just bought. Do you guys who use this jig ever get joints where you cannot see daylight through any of them when holding it up to light? I am hoping my expectations are too high because it seems it might take forever to get them seem less.
 

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Yes, your issue is two routers with bushings not set up the same. See my post above with the red and yellow drawing. Always keep the same router handle in your right hand and try not to twist the router but go straight in and out. Then, if your bushing is off-center at least it will be consistent.

Loosen the bushing on one router or the other and move it slightly to left or right and try again on scrap. Keep messing with it until the edges line up.
 
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