Porter Cables Omnijig

If I were doing woodworking for a living instead of writing about woodworking, the dovetail jig I'd buy is the Poner-Cable Omnijig. (I think I'd buy it, anyway. My wry colleague Bob Moran, who did do woodworking for a living, says the Omnijig is a tool that no one working wood for a living can afford to buy.) It's certainly designed and built for sustained use. Everything about it is heavy-duty. And it certainly is flexible.

The base is a thick aluminum casting. It has broad clamping surfaces on top and in front, so that aligning stock for dovetailing can be done quickly. Holes through the base's end flanges and its 60-pound weight indicate that the Omnijig isn't a unit that gets stashed on a shelf when not in active use. Rather, it gets bolted to a table and is a workstation.

A feature that anyone who's routed dovetails in 40 or 50 drawers will appreciate is the lightning-fast, lever-operated clamping system. You hold the workpiece in position with one hand and yank the clamp lever with the other. An eccentrically mounted 1 Winch-diameter steel bar rotates against the full width of the board. There's enough force behind it to flatten cupped boards. No more sore hands and aching wrists.

All the templates—and there are a lot of them available—are machined from Winch-thick aluminum stock. The assortment includes W and Winch flush or rabbeted half-blind dovetails, Winch flush or rabbeted box joints, Winch hand-cut-style dovetails, and W and Winch tapered slidir.g dovetails. A template for Wand Winch through dovetails has adjustable fingers, & la Leigh, so you can vary the sizes of the pins and tails. The half-blind dovetails and box joints

The Omnijig is industrial-strength. Instead of a lightweight stamping, the base is a heavy casting. Instead of plastic, the templates are machined aluminum plates. Lever-operated clamping rods supplant the typical wing nut-secured bars. And a range of dovetail and box-joints can be machined without endless guide adjustments. Setup and operation are fast.

With the Omnijig and the appropriate templates and bits,you can cut flush and rabbeted half-blind dovetails, hand-cut-style half-blind dovetails, flush and rabbeted box joints, sliding dovetails, and variably spaced through dovetails.

are cut on both socket and tail pieces at the same time, using the same bit. The so-called hand dovetails and the sliding dovetail require two templates, two passes, but only one bit. And, of course, the through dovetails require straight and dovetail bits.

The templates arc used with a Winch guide bushing, which allows you to use Winch-shank bits.

The larger of the two models accommodates stock from Vi inch to I inch thick and up to 24 inches wide.

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