Router Forums banner
1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,042 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've run into several projects where I need to make through dovetails in larger pieces of wood. So far 17.5" is as wide as they have been and too large for me to make using the PantoRouter as best I can see. This is a blanket chest I want to make for my granddaughter to take to college in mid August. Of course my other Porter Cable dovetail jig only handles 12" wide maximum and the LS Positioner is capable to a point but works using templates that don't come close to my needed layout. What I see that will work for a mere $600 is the Leigh D4R Pro jig and also does variable and adjustable dovetails both through and half blind up to 24". It also does box joints and several other joints with a minimum of 1/4" to 1-1/4" stock depending on joint.

While I'm not against learning to hand cut dovetail joints the clock is running on this project and from all I've read the wider the work the harder it is to match those pins and tails. 17.5" has 8 full dovetails. That's 32 cuts that need to be dead on or extremely close. I'd need a good dovetail saw, a fret saw, and a good marker to add to my tools to try to learn this process. While intriguing I'd prefer less stress to get the project right and on time.

So after all this, is it worth the $600 for the Leigh jig that would get used for other projects. I'd likely sell my PC 4216 as I would no longer need it. I'd still plan on learning the hand cutting process but it would be far more relaxed later rather than now......
 

·
Marine Engineer
Doug
Joined
·
4,960 Posts
My first dovetail jig was the Stots dovetail template master. It's now sold by Milescraft. You basically make a Keller style jig for what ever length you need. It works fairly well. I later found a nice aluminum keller set at an estate sale, so this jig doesn't see much use anymore.

DovetailTemplateMaster - Milescraft

The keller jig will cut through dovetails on long projects according to their literature, but I haven't tried that.

Keller dovetail jigs: Simple, fast & accurate woodworking tools
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
257 Posts
I have the Leigh D4R and it is a very nice jig. The only downside that I can think of is the steep learning curve. The manual is very comprehensive and takes you through each step. But since it so involved, I have to re-read the manual every time I use it. I am sure more frequent use would solve that problem.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,042 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The only thing I see right off that Keller jig doesn't have is the variable spacing. That gives you a vast choice of design vs fixed. My PC jig does a good job but is limited to a max of 12" width which normally is fine until you start doing case furniture. I had thought about doing 2 boards to join together to get the 17.5" total width and then realized the nightmare it could be aligning all 4 sections to each other. That's taking the 2 narrower boards to get the 17.5" on both side/front and back parts, a total of 28 through dovetails. Which again is why I hesitate to try that by hand not having any experience doing so. If it were 2-3 dovetails per piece on a narrow board it might be far more doable for me at this point but still has plenty of room to mess up.

As for the complexity of the Leigh jig, at this point I have a hard time using some of my less used tools without a refresher of the manual. Looking at the PC 4216 last night I just noticed the right side of the guide plates have depth stops for 1/4", 3/8" & 1/2". I've always used the variable stop on the left side......but again the limit is a 12" wide board and fixed spaced joints. Not that you can't skip a joint but certainly not variable by any means.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,775 Posts
The only thing I see right off that Keller jig doesn't have is the variable spacing. That gives you a vast choice of design vs fixed. My PC jig does a good job but is limited to a max of 12" width which normally is fine until you start doing case furniture. I had thought about doing 2 boards to join together to get the 17.5" total width and then realized the nightmare it could be aligning all 4 sections to each other. That's taking the 2 narrower boards to get the 17.5" on both side/front and back parts, a total of 28 through dovetails. Which again is why I hesitate to try that by hand not having any experience doing so. If it were 2-3 dovetails per piece on a narrow board it might be far more doable for me at this point but still has plenty of room to mess up.

As for the complexity of the Leigh jig, at this point I have a hard time using some of my less used tools without a refresher of the manual. Looking at the PC 4216 last night I just noticed the right side of the guide plates have depth stops for 1/4", 3/8" & 1/2". I've always used the variable stop on the left side......but again the limit is a 12" wide board and fixed spaced joints. Not that you can't skip a joint but certainly not variable by any means.

You can use your Porter Cable Jig and save some money. Page 6 starts instructions and continues Supplemental Instruction Manual
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,042 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks Marco, I had never seen this additional manual and it didn't come with the jig when it was bought. It does indeed expand greatly the use of the jig but doesn't allow for variable spaced dovetails. I have downloaded and printed this additional manual for future use. Thanks again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,775 Posts
Thanks Marco, I had never seen this additional manual and it didn't come with the jig when it was bought. It does indeed expand greatly the use of the jig but doesn't allow for variable spaced dovetails. I have downloaded and printed this additional manual for future use. Thanks again.
You can cut variable spaced joints with it. Sounds like someone wants to add to their collection. ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
715 Posts
I second the thanks, Marco.
Like Doug, I started with a Stott template. Its simplicity and extensibility have always endeared it to me. I have used it Keller- style and with a handheld router. The best part is that the inevitable mistakes do not permanently ruin the "teeth" - and I am extraordinarily prone to mistakes, like lifting the router too early.
I subsequently bought a P-C knock-off at a close-out, but found the learning curve and propensity for blunders to be not insignificant, so it has gathered dust. Now you have shown me new potential uses, that should have been obvious had I not been blinkered.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
372 Posts
I also started with the Stotts dovetail template master. I also purchased the General EZ Pro plus jig. Both are open ended to do longer dovetails. I prefer to use the router table over hand held, when I can. You are less likely to lift the fixture up when it is on the table. I have the original Incra positioner jig. I am pleased with all of them. With any jig or fixture, attention to detail will yield accurate, repeatable outcomes. I really don't have a favorite. I have done a few hand cut dovetails. I certainly need more practice in that area.
I don't see a need for me personally to purchase any additional dovetail fixtures. I am not in business, just for myself. I think it comes down to what your needs are, and how elaborate we want to get when doing any joint.
Whatever method or fixture you decide on, I hope that it will make your projects worry and stress free. Let us know how it turns out!

Thanks

Ellery
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
So you have an LS Positioner? If so you are not constrained by the templates. For a blanket chest you're probably using 3/4" stock and, for through dovetails, will be using the 5/8" or 3/4" dovetail bits. The Reference Guide advises a spacing of 1-1/16" and 1-5/16" for these bits and as long as you maintain the spacing in increments of these measurements you can space the dovetails at whatever you like. There's always the option of making the end pins wider to take up any minor variation due to the width of your stock. To reduce the chance of errors draw up the joint on a sheet of paper and mark the position of your A and B cuts on it.

The other option is to machine cut your dovetails at whatever spacing you like and then hand cut the pins. I bet you could do this in a fraction of the time it would take you to learn to use a Leigh D4R.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
106 Posts
I've run into several projects where I need to make through dovetails in larger pieces of wood. So far 17.5" is as wide as they have been and too large for me to make using the PantoRouter as best I can see. This is a blanket chest I want to make for my granddaughter to take to college in mid August. Of course my other Porter Cable dovetail jig only handles 12" wide maximum and the LS Positioner is capable to a point but works using templates that don't come close to my needed layout. What I see that will work for a mere $600 is the Leigh D4R Pro jig and also does variable and adjustable dovetails both through and half blind up to 24". It also does box joints and several other joints with a minimum of 1/4" to 1-1/4" stock depending on joint.

While I'm not against learning to hand cut dovetail joints the clock is running on this project and from all I've read the wider the work the harder it is to match those pins and tails. 17.5" has 8 full dovetails. That's 32 cuts that need to be dead on or extremely close. I'd need a good dovetail saw, a fret saw, and a good marker to add to my tools to try to learn this process. While intriguing I'd prefer less stress to get the project right and on time.

So after all this, is it worth the $600 for the Leigh jig that would get used for other projects. I'd likely sell my PC 4216 as I would no longer need it. I'd still plan on learning the hand cutting process but it would be far more relaxed later rather than now......
I've been using a General Tools jig for quite sometime. It does take practice to line it up when cutting a wide piece. And it pretty much leaves you with one width size. But overall it does what I need done. Beyond this in size I hand cut the joints.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
948 Posts
I have the D4R Pro, I've only used it once, but am actually setting up to begin using it more frequently, I've had it for 4 or 5 years. HOWEVER, I bought it used, which I highly recommend. I frequently see them on Craigslist or Facebook marketplace for around $200. Be sure to look there and save yourself $400.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,042 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
So you have an LS Positioner? If so you are not constrained by the templates. For a blanket chest you're probably using 3/4" stock and, for through dovetails, will be using the 5/8" or 3/4" dovetail bits. The Reference Guide advises a spacing of 1-1/16" and 1-5/16" for these bits and as long as you maintain the spacing in increments of these measurements you can space the dovetails at whatever you like. There's always the option of making the end pins wider to take up any minor variation due to the width of your stock. To reduce the chance of errors draw up the joint on a sheet of paper and mark the position of your A and B cuts on it.

The other option is to machine cut your dovetails at whatever spacing you like and then hand cut the pins. I bet you could do this in a fraction of the time it would take you to learn to use a Leigh D4R.
You are correct, the wood is milled 3/4" Cherry and the dovetail bit used in the plan is a 5/8". I thought about the spacing and by the plans they are as seen in the attached PDF. I drew these up in AutoCAD2005 for clarity and precision. The spacing is 2-3/8" accros the 17.5" width boards at 3/4" thick. Now if I could create the template......
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,042 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Another possibility is cutting them with the table saw but then again unless you do this often that extra $130 or so for the flat cut angled tooth blade is yet another specialized expense. I guess if you commit to any of these you'll need to make far more use to justify the cost. Thanks for the responses guys.....something to think about and maybe I'll look into making custom LS Positioner templates.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,042 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I discovered, was pointed to in another forum I think, a free program while on this journey that will allow you to create the custom made templates for the Incra LS Positioner that I am still trying to get the hang of. I see how it works and can create the file but then you need a printer that will print the template on a long sheet. so it can be cut out and used. The program is called pyRouter and is found here. Now if I can get the program to duplicate the needed pattern and then print out the template I should be far closer. Documentation is included with the download file.

I've only installed and played with it for a short time as I had another project, building a platform for a new to me 12' dome for the telescope, that took president as that project has been ongoing for a few weeks now and the concrete columns are poured and the platform started. Need to finish this and then get serious about the blanket chest.........

I may need to give Mark at Incra a call and see if he's heard of this program before and if so get his input.
 

·
Registered
Woodworker
Joined
·
49 Posts
I have an older Leigh jig from the 90's. I think it's a D3. What you're looking at is worth every penny. There is a learning curve but once you're dialed in and understand the unit it is very easy to make beautiful dovetailed joints. I keep some of my test joints to help me in setting up for future projects. Use quality bits and you will make some beautiful dovetail joints.

Red
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top