Troubleshooting Tips for Getting a Perfect

If after routing a test set of dovetails you aren't happy with the fit, you'll need to tweak die settings on the jig and router. However, knowing just what to do can be a bit confusing. But don't worry.

In the drawings at right, you'll find a few of the most common troubles. Don't try to fix everything at once. As you make adjustments, it's best to make a small change to one setting and make another test cut. Then move on once you have that just right.

The Right Bit Depth. If the dovetails are too loose, increase the depth of cut on the router. If the joints are too tight, decrease the bit depth.

Adjust the Template. If the tail board sits too deep, move the template forward. If the tails are proud, move the template back a bit.

Fixing Offset Edges. If the top and side edges don't align, the workpieces may not have been clamped tight against the stops on the jig.

PINS. Once the tails have been routed, you can turn your attention to the pins. The pin board is clamped horizontally in tire jig, as in the right photo below.

Then the template is flipped over to guide the bit when routing the pins. To make sure the pin board is located in the right spot, I clamped an index board vertically in the jig. After routing the pins, you can check the fit of the joint. The box below will give you some advice on how to correct any problems.


Using an adjustable dovetail jig (like tire Leigh jig) to rout the halfblind dovetails in the case is a quick way to get tight-fitting joints. But if it's been awhile since you last used it, you may need a refresher course. So here are a few pointers to help you along the way.

First of all, unlike some jigs, the tails and pins are routed separately. So you'll need to label the pieces carefully. Along with that, routing each part uses a different side of the template (photos below).

The next thing to do is get the bit and guide bushing set up in your router. For the Leigh jig, the owner's manual specifies an exact bit and guide bushing combination to use for %"-thick stock (a 10° dovetail bit and a 7/ie" O.D. guide bushing).

TAILS FIRST. It's a good idea to do a few test cuts on some scrap pieces that are the same thickness as the actual parts. This way, you can dial in the settings without wasting wood. I set up to rout the tails first, as you can see in the left photo below.

A gauge on the template shows you where to locate it in relation to the workpiece. I then cut some filler strips to fit between the fingers on the template to keep the bit from routing in the wrong place. Finally, I clamped a backer board behind the workpiece to prevent tearout.

You'll need a 7/i6" guide bushing and a 10° dovetail bit.


NOTE: Top catch must be aligned with those on web frame front


NOTE: Drawer catches are installed after case assembly


Align top catch -—with catches on web frames



#8x V/2" Rh woodscrew




Counter-bored shank holes, see detail chamfer

Drawer catches are centered on ^

and flush with the back edge of web frame front


Rh woodscrew



making web


Grooves for back panels need to align


7M"-dia. %"-dia. V^ counterbore shank hole

After completing work on the "outside" parts of the case, the task now is to build the "insides." This includes the web frames and the paneled back assembly.

I began with the web frames. Actually, these frames will do more than support the drawers.

They will also capture the back panels. To make the frames, start by cutting the parts to size.

MORTISE AND TENON JOINERY. You can see in the drawing above that the web frames are assembled with mortise and tenon joints. The box below shows you the steps involved in making the joints. I cut mortises in the fronts and backs by drilling out the waste and squaring up the mortises with a chisel.

Matching tenons are then cut on the frame sides at the table saw. I also drilled some counterbored holes in the frame sides that will be

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