PROS: Attractive price; easy to use, with nicely designed clamps and fine-adjustment knobs.
CONS: Poor instruction manual; narrowest range of stock thickness and width; adaptor required for non-Craftsman routers.
BOTTOM LINE: A good choice for budget-minded woodworkers.
40 AMERICAN WOODWORKER ▲ FEBRUARY 1996
Made primarily of plastic, the Craftsman 25450 is the lightweight in our test group.
This jig will cut evenly spaced through dovetails and half-blind dovetails in two sizes. Though its capabilities are limited, this jig is bargain-priced compared to the three other jigs in our test.
To cut through dovetails on the Craftsman, you clamp the work vertically to the front of the machine, with the end of the board under the template. The tails and pins for through dovetails are cut in separate o|>erations.
This jig is easy to use once you learn its basic working procedures. And there are some innovative features that we liked: You can position the clamping knobs along either clamping bar to focus pressure on narrow stock. And the fine-tuning knobs make it easy to adjust the template position for joint fit.
On the downside, the manual is poorly organized and the jig requires an hour or two to assemble. And, if you don't have a Sears router, you'll also need to buy the optional universal adaptor plate. We didn't like the fact that you have to change guide bushings to switch from tail routing -
to pin routing.
Though the Craftsman jig doesn't offer the versatility of the Leigh or Omnijig, it provides an inexpensive way to enter the world of machine-cut through dovetails.
Fine-tune the fit. It's simple to adjust the template position by turning this knob on the Craftsman jig, which changes the tightness of the joint.
Street price: $329
Phone: (800) 995-2456
Keller and Co., 1327 I St., Petaluma, CA 94952
Ease of use:
The Keller jig is designed for making through dovetails only. But it makes them quickly and accurately with a minimal amount of setup. The jig produces comparatively large dovetails, making it a good choice for carcase joinery. (The 2401 makes 5/8-in.-wide pins spaced 13/4 in. on center.) And, of the jigs we looked at, it is the only one that will produce dovetails on stock of unlimited width.
The jig is simplicity itself. It consists of two aluminum templates—each mounted on a hardwood backing block that you supply. One template is used for cutting the dovetails and the other for cutting the pins. The two router bits supplied—a dovetail bit and a straight bit—have top-mounted bearings that follow the templates. There's no need for router guide bushings.
To assemble the Keller jig, you make the wooden backing blocks and align and fasten the templates to them. The initial alignment requires some fussing, but you only have to do it once.
To make dovetails, you clamp your tail board vertically in a vise with the tail template positioned over the end of the work-piece. You clamp the template's backing block to the work-piece and rout the tails using the dovetail bit. You use the tails to scribe for the pins on the pin board—just as when _
making hand-cut dovetails. (For evenly spaced dovetails, you need only scribe for one pin; the template will register the rest. For variable spacing, however, you have to scribe for all pins.) To make the pins, you align the pin template to your scribe marks, switch to the straight bit, and rout. You'll need a router with a 1/2-in. collet to accept the router bits supplied.
The Keller jig is a solid, nearly foolproof aid to the cabinetmaker who is primarily interested in dovetails for carcase joinery.
Bearings instead of bushings. The Keller jig comes with bearing-guided bits that eliminate the need for regular router guide bushings.
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