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rockler dovetail jig

7639 Views 9 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Drugstore Cowboy
alright guys, i need help. i was attempting to route a dovetail using my rockler dovetail jig along with the router bit the kit came with.. i have no clue what im doing wrong but the two photos below will show you the issues. i had two pieces of wood one the went on the top of the jig and then one that slid in the front, so i could do two pieces at once so they match up. well that is not the case. the upper piece looked good but when it came to the bottom piece the notches are 2 times bigger than the slots on the top. check out the two pictures i have attached and let me know if this is something as easy to fix or am i doing something wrong (obviously)

please help.


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I have a few questions that may help someone figgure this out.
1) Are you using a 7/16" OD Guide Bushing?
2) Is your dovetail bit the 1/2" x 14 deg. or the 1/2" x 8 deg bit that they offer with the jig?
3) Is the wood 3/4" thick? (This is important only to help get perspective of size)
4) Are the fingers and the spaces of the comb both 7/16" wide?
5) Could you position these pieces in the jig as they were when you cut the dovetails and post a picture showing this?
a) i was first using a 7/16 bushing that i got out of the "Turnlock" bushing kit that rockler has and i noticed that there was too much gap inbetween the bushing and the fingers so i changed it to a 1/2" bushing and it fit nicely, but either one i used i received the same result.

b) i used the 1/2" x 14 degree bit that came with the jig

c) the thickness of the wood is 3/4"

hope this helps................


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1) Use the 7/16" bushing, Start on the left side of the jig, and keep the bushing against the left side of the finger when pushing the router in, and against the right side of the finger on the way out. (Keep the bushing against the comb at all times), and make sure that the comb is laying flat against the top of the horizontal board.
2) You will want your bit to cut a path approx 7/16" deep to start.
3) Raising the bit will make the teeth left on the vertical board smaller, lowering the bit (deeper cut) will make them larger. It will likely take a few attempts to get this right. You can only cut them once. if they are wrong, cut the board shorter and try again. Once you get it right, you might want to take a piece of scrap and put it in the jig vertically. make your cut as if you intend to use this board, and then set it aside. Use this as your depth guide to get you close next time you put the bit in the router.
4) You will have to set your stops so you can align your boards right. When the horizontal board is in place, the left edge of your board (as shown in your picture) should be centered in the groove of the comb, and the left edge of the vertical board should be centered on the finger located just to the right of the groove.once the boards are in place, adjust the stops on the jig against the left edges of both boards so you can duplicate the set-up quicker next time. After you have adjusted the left side stops, you'll need to do the same thing on the right side of the jig with the vertical board offset towards the center.
5) Once you are happy with all of the above, you may have to move the comb forward or back in the jig to adjust the depth of the joint when you put the boards together. If the grooves in the horizontal board aren't deep enough, the comb should be positioned farther in toward the body of the jig. This adjustment will be 1/2 of the distance you need. If you move the position of the comb by 1/16", it will show up as 1/8" of placement when you put the joint together.
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make sure you boards are 1" increments, 2, ,4 etc up to 12 in wide.( 1/2 pin+1/2 tail) need to work out evenly.
Jeff, I, too, have the Rockler machine and setup yesterday and tried to cut the dovetails. WOW, what a mess! So, I have reread your posting and printed it out and shall try again to do the job. I am using MDF until I get the ideas and methods correct in my mind. I gues it is again just a time for trial and error until we get it right.....right?

Joe Mulherin, Indio, CA
Hi Joe

Not trying to be a smart ass ,but you need to start over at
Just trying to help :)

Down load the user manual (PDF guide) from Harbor Freight and read it over a time or two.
It will show you how to make the dovetails that will come out right the 1st. time and every time after.

Manual below

The key is to keep all the stock the same size (thick) MDF is a good one to used for the 1st time because it's a true size.
Besure to mark the stock with A,B,C,D it will help plus put s X on the stock to show the inside of the box.
Plus put the stock edge under the 1st. pin (in the center of the 1st pin) and always use the same router when you do dovetails and set the stop bar for that router.
Most don't put dovetails on the front and back just the front and the sides but the jig will do both and do it very well but it's bit ticky to setup.

Plus you may want to read the link below.
Small error in this type of dovetail jig but you can fix it quick and easy. (see link and snapshot /pictures)
The Error=the finger part of the jig will move just a bit when you clamp the stock down, that's to say it will move to the right or the left and this will off set the joint and with a dovetail joint it must be dead on....
You will not see it until you put the joint together,one will be high or low,by 1/16" the norm.

Just a side NOTE
The box jig(s) that Oak-Park sells are great for what you want to do.
You don't need to use your rubber ruler ,if you want a box that's 11" wide and 20" long that's what you cut the stock for, quick and easy ,then put the slot in for the bottom then but a face plate on the front and your done.
Plus it can be from 1 1/2" to 48" tall unlike the norm. jigs.

Hope this helps
Bj :)
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There is another method to learning the Rockler dovetail jig that may seem too simple. Go to your Rockler store and say: "Show me!" I know this works because that is what I did. Nothing beats the hands on demonstration.
I found the rockler jig ok to use. plan on having plenty of scrap wood to learn how to use properly regardless of which type of dovetail you are using. i spent a good half day trying to figure out how to make the half blind jib work got fed up, looked for better instructions, spent another 2 or 3 hours learning the through jig.

right now i am looking at the katie jig because i am planning on making a piece wider than the 12 - 16 inches that you can effectively use with the rockler system.

do a google search on dovetail shootout and look for a link to woodshopdemos he compares several of the predominant jigs out there and gives some objective advice as well as step by step pictures - good for those of use that don't want to drive more than an hour back to the rockler store for a personal demonstration.
Guess I was just lucky -- because I sure do NOT claim to be dovetail expert.
Prior to buying the Rockler Jig all I had done was sliding dovetails for shelves etc.

I had to build a chest of drawers a few months ago -- and I happened into Rockler on a day they were demoing their fancy new jig. I asked if they had one less expensive --- they did -- so ---- I bit ---

Anyway -- I set up the jig -- followed the instructions --
Blew off three pieces of scrap fine tuning the depth -- and then started on my drawers. They came out fine. My biggest problem was tear out -- but that was my error for not using a backing board.

I wouldn't pretend to give advice -- just assurance -- that the Rockler jig can produce good results -- even for a rank dovetail amateur.

Hang in there --
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