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Thread: Dovetail Jig

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    Dovetail Jig

    I'm building a desk and instead of traditional legs, I'm dovetailing side panels to the top (see my bad drawing). So, I decided to use a dovetail jig for the first, and hopefully only time. I just didn't trust myself to be able to pull off hand cutting DT's on the end of a 65" panel. Below is a picture of the setup I used. I tried to be as safe as possible, but using a router while standing on a chair is pretty dicey.

    So, I have finally used a dovetail jig, but I did not like it! Hopefully I won't have use it very often.




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    Re: Dovetail Jig

    It may be easier to lay the piece on its flat face and work from the end of the bench instead of standing in the chair........
    Nice design. Simplicity is its own elegance sometimes.
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    Re: Dovetail Jig

    So you didn't like the dovetail jig? Is that because of the jig or the floor's too high in your shop?

    I'll be watching to see how the desk turns out.
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    Re: Dovetail Jig

    I believe I'd turn it around and stand on the bench, standing on the chair is very dangerous. Other than that I'd probably just cut it by hand, trusting yourself, I think you can do it.
    Nothing beats a try but a failure, failure is an opportunity to learn.
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    Re: Dovetail Jig

    the chair wasn't quite high enough. maybe set a drywall bucket on it to get to a comfortable height...
    fred p If it ain't broke you aint trying hard enough

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    Re: Dovetail Jig

    I don't like the jig because of the ridiculously fat pins and the setup time. The top of the desk is 1 1/8" thick, which meant I had to use a 1/2 shank bit...even fatter pins that normal!

    Thanks for the vote of confidence Richard!

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    Re: Dovetail Jig

    Ah... Fat pins. I got it. That's one of my complaints with carbide dovetail cutters. I've got a set of HSS steel dovetail bits that run slimmer than the carbide cutters out there.

    I suppose it's too late now. You have them all cut?
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    Re: Dovetail Jig

    They are all cut, but I looked and couldn't find a DT cutter with a 1/4 shank that had a cutter head long enough to cut the 1 1/8" board.

    And I should say that I don't, personally, like the jig because of the pins, but this jig (Leigh DR4 Pro) itself is top notch. Well made with great instructions and the DT's are perfect, once it's set up. i think if you used a DT jig often, this would be the one to get.

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    Re: Dovetail Jig

    I almost bought one of those some time back but decided I didn't like the fat pins and went a different route that is more flexible and doesn't require special dovetail bits.

    If you do another piece this way, you might consider a sort of hybrid method. Cut the sockets either traditionally by hand or at the bandsaw, mark out for the pins as you would for handcut but remove the waste between the pins with a router with a straight cutter.
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    Re: Dovetail Jig

    Hey fat pins need love to.
    Nothing beats a try but a failure, failure is an opportunity to learn.
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    Re: Dovetail Jig

    Richard, you should make bumper stickers!

    I always cut my DT's by hand and the whole reason for the jig was that I thought I could probably cut the tails standing on a chair, but I had no idea how to position these huge, heavy boards steady enough to transfer the tail marks onto the pin board. I find that hard to do accurately with small pieces!

    I think it's going to come out looking ok, I got them all cut and fitting very well with no tear out, so I'm happy. This desk is for my wife's office and as long as she likes it, I'm good.

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    Re: Dovetail Jig

    I look forward to seeing your progress and the finished piece. There is always a work around.
    Nothing beats a try but a failure, failure is an opportunity to learn.
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    Re: Dovetail Jig

    You're satisfied with the outcome and so is your wife so a little inconvenience and hassle was worth that effort Mr. Stilt!

    Why didn't you use box joints (aka finger joints) instead of dovetails? I don't do dovetails and don't understand what a "ridiculously fat pin" is over a 20-23" width. Here's a 20" width with 2" w fingers but maybe too much visual contrast vs a "skinny" pin. Just curious why you like dovetails so much.



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    Re: Dovetail Jig

    Quote Originally Posted by David Justice View Post
    Richard, you should make bumper stickers!

    I always cut my DT's by hand and the whole reason for the jig was that I thought I could probably cut the tails standing on a chair, but I had no idea how to position these huge, heavy boards steady enough to transfer the tail marks onto the pin board. I find that hard to do accurately with small pieces!

    I think it's going to come out looking ok, I got them all cut and fitting very well with no tear out, so I'm happy. This desk is for my wife's office and as long as she likes it, I'm good.
    Why not lay the boards flat on the bench and clamp the short pieces in position to mark?



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    Re: Dovetail Jig

    Jeff - I never considered box joints for this. I have only ever used them on....boxes :-) I do really like the aesthetics of dovetails though.

    Mike - I thought about that, but I wanted the short boards (legs) to be the tail board and the long boards (top) to be the pins and If I'm thinking about it correctly I would have to clamp the short board overlapping the end of the long board, which would mean I'd need 70" clamps. Yes, probably cheaper than the jig, but I figured I may need it again and I can cut box joints with it too.

    This is how far I got as of last night - All dovetails cut and I cut the angle joint. I plan on using floating tenons here and I'll put in a few pocket hole screws to clamp it together. All that is left is a final smoothing and breaking all the sharp corners, assembly and putting the finish on. I plan on putting a pretty hefty leg with a leveling foot on the back at the 90 degree corner, this will be my last step when installing.

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