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Porter Cable Dovetail Jig question

3015 Views 8 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Jake229
I'm new to the Forum but have a question about alignment of the P-C dovetail jig. Years ago I had a Sears dovetail jig and although I didn't use it a lot, I was able to make several nice drawers with dovetails. I got back into woodworking since I recently retired and decided to upgrade from the old Craftsman, which was missing a few pieces anyway.
So, I bought a P-C 4216. I read the instructions carefully, but continue to have problems that aren't discussed in the manual. Here's what I did to cut half-blind dovetails:

Carefully planed all the boards to the same thickness
I jointed one edge and then ripped the boards
Used my crosscut sled and measured carefully to make sure all angles were 90 degrees
Aligned the boards so that they are square with each other when I put them in the jig.
Used same thickness boards on the right side of jig to keep template even across the jig.

After several uses, and still not getting things right, I took it back and got a replacement from P-C. I set it up and still I get the offset. I'm at a loss to figure out how to correct it. (These photos are before adjusting the new jig for depth of cut, etc.) It's the offset top to bottom of the drawer that has me buffaloed.

Any suggestions?
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Welcome Jim!

I have the same jig but have not done the half blind DT. There are a couple of very good how to's on you tube specificaly on the half blind Should be a simple fix/adjustment on the set up
It's been a while since I used my PC jig, but to state the obvious, the offset between pin and tail cuts is off. The only things that come readily to my mind are 1) you're using the wrong offset guide- there's a different one needed for the "mini" DT's than that used for standard DT's; 2) the offset guide might not be perfectly square (vertical) to the front (tail) board, such that the tail board isn't offset the right amount; 3) if your tail board is not centered between the template fingers, and you accidently flip it (inside to out) when assembling. Your tails look perfectly centered, so I doubt this last one is the cause. Just my $0.02
Welcome to the forum.
I too haven't used my 4216 in years, but I can tell you that WWGOA (George Vondriska), has an in-depth video series on this jig that is quite intuitive. Worth watching. He goes through all set-up techniques and troubleshooting. I don't recall if this series is free, or if it is a subscription. I received it years ago when I was a member of WWGOA. Worth looking into.
G'day Jim, welcome to the forum.
Can I ask, what did you figure out? There is a supplemental manual for the 4216. Google supplemental 4216 manual and rockier has it available for free.
Can I ask, what did you figure out? There is a supplemental manual for the 4216. Google supplemental 4216 manual and rockier has it available for free.
I downloaded that manual but I didn't find it helpful for correcting the problem I was having. I did finally get it sorted though. I had watched videos on setup (Steve Woodward's was very good) but this was before I had posted on this forum.
What I found I needed was to make SURE that the scribed line in the template was parallel with the board edge. 1) Put a board (same thickness as drawer material) horizontally on both the left AND the right side of the jig and adjust the tension to lock them in place. Then I use a board that is close to the width capacity of the jig. I put it in the vertical clamp. What you're trying to do is get a straight line all the way across the jig so that you can accurately align with the scribed line on template.
Once I had that absolutely dialed in, it still took a few cuts to make sure that the guide is exactly positioned. Mine can wiggle just a bit and that little bit can throw the joint out of alignment.
Once I make a really good joint, I try to use it to make successive cuts by changing out boards one at a time, instead of taking out and replacing both at the same time. That is, I make the cut, then loosen the clamp for the pin board, remove it, and insert a new board into the pin clamp, then line it up with the tail board. Clamp that uncut pin board down, THEN unclamp and remove the cut tail board and insert and align a new tail board. I align it with the new pin board, then clamp it down and I'm ready to cut that joint. By following this procedure, I'm able to replicate one joint after another perfectly.

Hope this helps.

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Thanks Jim! Just got some junk pallet wood to practice with the jig. I think it will be a good jig, but getting the hang of it takes time and patience. Seems like it will be an amazing jig for sure. I am going to make a walnut box for a rifle. Got the wood, just need to master the dovetail and run it through the surface planer.

have a great day and keep sharing things on this forum. Lots of great people here!
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