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For cutting dovetails, whether you need a bushing depends on what kind of jig you're using. I know that with my Sommerfeld Katey jig, I can use a bearing bit. Not sure about the older PC style jig since it's something I haven't used. Here's a video of that setup so you can tell for yourself. I don't think it would be that hard to make a nuw sub base, put a pointed bit in it, or even a drill bit, and with the blank base in place, plunce the bit into the base and you've got the center. I'd want to use a drill press to cut the PC bushing opening just right. Leigh also makes a jig similar to the Sommerfeld unit.

 

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One more thing to consider. The difference between the two jigs is huge. With the PC style, you're moving the rouger across the jig. With the Leigh/sommerfeld jig, the router is stationary in the table and you're moving the jig. I prefer the later since it's always possible to jiggle or misdirect the router and mess up the cut. The jigs that move are not cheap. I assume you're not going to change either routers or jigs, so you're left with redoing the sub-base. I'd see if you can purchase a replacement part for the subbase. Pre drilled would be nice, but it's not much of a task as described, to cut your own opening.
 

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My Katey jig came with the two bits so I didn't have to buy them.

No table? That's a pretty easy fix. Make your own. For cutting dovetails and many other tasks, you can get good results with a piece of good quality ply (you can get a piece of Baltic Birch ply or something similar, from a local supplier. You cut an opening in the ply and mount the router underneath. If you want to use it for the long haul, add a second layer or 18mm wide, straight stock as trusses underneath.

If you have almost any kind of cabinet, you can mount the top on it, or simply set on top of a couple of saw horses. I'd mount a switch on the underside of the top so you can easily turn the router on and off.

If you use two layers, cut an opening large enough for the router base in the bottom layer and attach the two with screws. Two layers help keep the top flat over time. Later, you might wish to put in a mounting plate, and the double layer will make that easier. Also, you can use a really flat 2x4 or 2x6 as a fence. You clamp it in place. Cut an opening for the bit and maybe a dust collection port at the back side of the opening. Simple to make, very serviceable. It is also safer in general to use a router in the table. Your mate may appreciate that.

Lots of posts on making a router table on the site. The Porter Cable type jig is less expensive in general than the Leigh/Sommerfeld (L/S) units, but one reason I'm selling my never used Rockler jig is it is very confusing to correct an effor in the result--at least it is to me. As you saw in the video, how intuitive the L/S jig is. You number the parts as shown and set height very simply and you've got it. Both L/S jigs also have straight box joint "tuning forks." The Sommerfeld "new" dovetail jig is $240 (U.S.), bits included, not very much more than the Porter Cable style jig. I think you'll be happier with the L/S style jig.

https://sommerfeldtools.com/profess...ols/jigs-and-guides/sommerfeld-s-dovetail-jig
 

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Sounds like you have more time than money, in which case, one router will have to do. You don't need a lift either. For me the PC jig vs. the Katey style jig is a matter of remembering how to adjust the PC style jig--I can't seem to get it down pat and I've retired my Rockler/PC jig. So when you get the spousal OK, I'd get the Katey style, which includes the bits. Really about the same cost as the PorterCable jig alone. Having semi retired, I know how money can get tight. A flat chunk of ply will make an adequate router table top. You could also repurpose an old table from a thrift store. It's no big deal to mount the router in the top only when you need it, that's a workable choice if you have more time than money.
 

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...I'm not sure how the power part works - how do you add an external power switch to your router without messing with the controls built in?

I'll keep my eye out for a Katey-style jig at reasonable price (over here).
Question one. You only have to have an external switch with a plug attached. You can build one easily with a 2 gang switch box with a scrap power cord. Plug that in, then plug the router into the socket. However, for safety's sake, you must unplug your router from this box whenever you change bits. You can also use a foot switch that's on/off. Not very expensive, but get one that defaults to off, and is momentary on - only on when depressed. Maybe $25 bucks, or find an old sewing machine foot switch in a used goods store and add a plug. Since you're using it to control a table mounted router, a simple switch, outlet, box and scrap wire with plug will do fine and cost maybe $8 or so. Use the wire and plug from an old computer power cord--may cost a buck.


Question 2. As you check the junk and thrift stores, keep your eyes peeled for a smallish, sturdy table with a nice flat top. Find some sort of straight edge, for example an 18-24 inch steel ruler from a stationer's, and lay the edge on the used table, and move it around. If there are any areas that aren't flat, you'll see it as light peeking through the gap. If it's coated with laminate, that's even better. Four legs and reasonably tall and maybe $25 dollars and you have your router table. If the legs are short, attach longer extensions to the outside of the legs to raise it higher. Not pretty, but works. You can sometimes find old home bars, or kitchen stands that you can top with a sheet or two of ply and you're set.

I've even seen tables made of a couple of 24 inch squares of ply. A simple top, and cut the second square piece across the diagonal and use them to support the top. Use L brackets or pocket screws to assemble this and use several L brackets to attach this to studs in the wall--easy to space for stud locations, and space the triangular supports to a little wider than stud width so the L brackets can go into the studs. Don't need much to make this work for you. Put your power switch on the triangular piece. Using a double thickness of 3/4 ply, you can put 1 inch screws through the L brackets to assemble this. Simple and very cheap to build.

I'm enjoying your project by the way It's a challenge to figure out how to get the job done on the cheap. What you save on the table and fence goes to the jig.

Finding a used Katey jig may be tougher. So don't limit yourself to that brand. The Leigh jigs are excellent as well. If you're going to make some money from the hobby to pay for itself, you're going to have to add some tools, and this jig is one of them. People really like dovetail construction.

If there are no used jigs out there, you may have to buy one. In which case, I think your best bet is the Sommerfeld version, which includes the correct, high quality bits. Share this string with your spouse if it will help her understand how you've gone to great lengths to make the most economical decision. I also suggest you make sure you do projects for her, make things that help her out, or that she'd like. My wife shows her appreciation by being amenable to adding to my shop and tools.

I accumulated a really fine shop full of tools before I retired, which made it easier for me to pay for them. There are certain basic power tools that every shop requires. The minimum is a table saw, router, drill press and band saw. But if you buy something that's inadequate, you will need to replace it later. If buying as you go, you can keep your eyes out for bargains in the used market. Just don't get impatient.

Tom
 
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