Doublesided Template

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All jigs have optional templates for cutting different-sized dovetails or box joints, but two jigs are equipped with double-sided templates with two rows of fingers (Photo 8). With the Craftsman you can make standard 1/2-in. and 1/4-in. dovetails (although you'll need another bit and template guide for the smaller ones). With the Woodhaven you can make 1/2-in. dovetails and wider 3/4-in. dovetails using the same bit.

The Bottom Line

Once we got the hang of using it, every jig we tested turned out fairly good joints, so you really cant go wrong with any of these jigs. However, jigs with the best features listed above generally produce more consistent results and make life in the shop more pleasant.

You Also Should Know About...

ROUTER-TABLE BASED JIGS. Vou can make a bazillion dovetail variations with the Incra Jig Ultra (972-418-4811 or www.incra.com; 16-in., $200; 24-in. $240} or the Jointech (800-619-1288, www.join-tech.com; 12-in. $320; 18-in. $350). These jigs are sophisticated fences for your router table. Versatility comes at the price of being quite complicated. These jigs aren't for the faint of heart.

A TEMPLATE-MAKING JIG. In theory you can make your own templates and complete dovetail jig with the DoveTail Tem-piateMaster (fax 502-244-6047, www.stots.com; $40), but in practice we found it difficult to pull off.

A NEW MINI-JIG Too new to test, the Katie Jig, Jr. (Hampton House, 317-881-8601, www.katiejig.com: $230) is a baby sister to the Katie Jig (page 71). It cuts variable-spaced through-dovetails in 3/16-in. to 1/2-in.-thick wood; perfect for small boxes and pigeonhole-sized drawers.

Make two sizes of dovetails with a double-sided template.AII the jigs offer a smaller template as an accessory, but it's standard equipment on the Craftsman shown here.

Accessible Dovetail With Dovetail Images

Adjustable stops allow you to fine-tune the width of the halfpin at the bottom of a dovetail joint.The stops on the Porter-Cable jig shown here are easily accessible.

U Adjustable board clamps on the

Woodhaven jig ensure that your work won't slip while you're cutting.The clamps slide back and forth to deliver even pressure on both wide and narrow boards.

Large knobs on the clamps are easy to grip and tighten.They're an important feature if you've got lots of boards to cut.

Adjustable stops allow you to fine-tune the width of the halfpin at the bottom of a dovetail joint.The stops on the Porter-Cable jig shown here are easily accessible.

Tigthening JigRouter Dovetail Jig

Through Dovetail Jigs

Reviewing the through and combination jigs (see next page) is like comparing apples to oranges. We can't recommend one jig over another. Here's a their strengths and weaknesses.

KELLER DOVETAIL JIGS $ 150 and up

Keller makes four jigs for quickly making through-dovetail joints only. The size and spacing of the dovetails is determined by each jig's template. It's possible to make variable-spaced dovetails by manually shifting the jig on your work.

It's easy to make dovetails that fit fairly tight, because the template does it for you. Unlike a half-blind jig, the fit is not determined by micro-adjusting the router's depth of cut.

Pictured above is the 1500 Journeyman, $150. Its template is made of phenolic plastic. The three other Keller jigs are aluminum and come in pairs, one template for pins and one for tails. The smallest aluminum jig cuts the same size dovetails as the Journeyman. The other jigs cut progressively wider dovetails. Each model comes with two special router bits with bearings. Optional bits for thin wood are available.

Pro: Keller jigs are user friendly.

Con: It's awkward to alter the dovetail spacing.

(See Chart, page 73 for specs.)

THE KATIE JIGS $270 and up

Here are two through-dovetail-onlyjigs with a twist: you can shift their guide forks and change the space between dovetails.

Katie jigs make looser-fitting dovetails than the Keller's, on purpose. They're easier to glue up. Katie recommends using polyurethane glue, which they claim tolerates a thicker glue line than yellow glue. You can make thinner backer boards for tighter-fitting dovetails.

You'll need to replace the backer boards as they wear out. The boards'thickness is critical, so you have to plane them yourself or buy them from the manufacturer ($9 each).

You get two bits with 3/8-in. shanks (less vibration than with 1/4-in. shank bits). They come with an adapter for a i /2-in. collet. The length of the bits makes them best suited for 3/4 in. and thicker wood. With thinner wood you end up with dovetails that are too long and must be planed or sanded flush after glue up.

Pro: Katie jigs make variable-spaced through dovetails. Con: For wide stock you must shift the jig, buy more forks and spacers or double up two jigs. {See Chart, page 73 for specs.)

It's dirt simple.

There's no fussy setup or complicated instructions to remember. Simply clamp your work to the jig and go for it.

It's adjustable.

Move the jig's guide forks to customize the spacing between dovetails.

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