Dovetail jigs allow woodworkers to create strong, accurate dovetail joints for boxes, drawers and furniture without fasteners.
A dovetail jig clamps workpieces, allowing users to run a router along a template to cut dovetail pins and tails.
Choosing the right dovetail jig for your router table depends on many factors. These include a jig’s design, ease of use and price.
Variable-spacing jigs give you a lot of flexibility in terms of how far apart each dovetail is. They make it easy to create joints with a wide range of proportions, and they’re also easier to set up.
There are a few different types of variable-spacing jigs for routers, including those with fixed fingers and those that allow you to change the location of the template fingers. The Keller System, for example, uses a precision ball-bearing guide on the shank of the router bit to ensure that you get an accurate cut every time.
Choosing the right dovetail jig is important because it will help you achieve flawless results on your projects. You should consider how often you plan on using the jig and what kind of joints you want to machine.
One of the best dovetail jigs for routers is the Leigh D4R Pro. It can make half-blind and through-dovetail joints up to 24 inches, and it comes with a few adjustable options others don’t offer.
A dovetail jig uses a template to guide the router’s path, cutting the pins and tails of a dovetail pattern and sockets in between. They’re available in two primary families based on their template style: fixed-template dovetail jigs and variable-template dovetail jigs.
The fixed-template dovetail jigs (like Rockler’s) use one interchangeable template for cutting the tails of through dovetail patterns and half-blind joints. For the pins, you use another template that enables you to mill angled faces on the ends of pins to fit between the tails.
Unlike the fixed-template dovetail jigs, the adjustable-template dovetail jigs offer a range of templates that can be made to suit any width of board. Whether you want to create a few non-uniform through and half-blind dovetails, or a variety of small finger joints, these jigs offer the versatility you need at a price you can afford.
Regardless of the type of jig you choose, it should have a range of adjustments that allow you to make a wide range of cuts. It should also have large, easy-to-use adjustment knobs and concise applied menus that show each operation.
Dovetail jigs are a great way to quickly create a variety of joints. They are also easier to use than hand-cut dovetails and can be a good investment for anyone looking for an easy way to make accurate joints.
Some jigs are built on a sturdy base that clamps to the workpiece. This makes them more stable and allows you to make precision cuts without using a plunge router.
These jigs are more versatile than fixed-template jigs because they can cut a wider range of patterns. Many are equipped with double-sided templates, which let you cut pins and tails on different sides of the same workpiece.
Another variation is the half-blind jig, which creates equal-width dovetails from any width wood. This type of jig is great for thick or wide boards that won’t fit in a standard jig.
If you’re looking for a dovetail jig that’s affordable, simple to use and can accommodate a variety of joint styles, look for the Porter-Cable RTJ400 (top). It includes all the essential tools to create a variety of joints.
Dovetail jigs for routers help you create interlocking connections on the ends of mating boards. They can produce dovetails that are visible only on one side of a corner (half-blind dovetails) or those that are visible on both sides of a corner (through dovetails).
Some half-blind jigs require you to size your workpieces to fit the jig, while others let you select the width of your pieces for variable pin and tail spacing. A good jig lets you create any style of joint with a few simple adjustments.
A quality jig will have a set of fixed-finger templates that dictate the width of your workpieces in order to leave half-pins at each end of the joint. This makes it easy to determine the exact spacing of the pins and tails.
A well-made jig is made from durable materials, including a steel frame, a cast iron base and heavy gauge metal clamping hardware. If a jig has lower-quality fittings, clamps or hardware, it may shift during use, creating less consistent results.