Best Dovetail Jigs for Flawless Joints

Review & Comparison, Last Update April 19, 2017
If you need to join two pieces of wood together without fasteners, dovetailing is the best way. We suggest reading our dovetail jigs review to make an informed and optimal choice. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2017
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Base width
Joint options
Accessories
Extras
Warranty
 
PROS

The model allows cutting grooves in pieces  with the thickness of up to 1-1/4", which is enough for making small articles.

CONS

Despite its big length, the model can hold only 4 pieces at once.

OUR VERDICT

Completed with three templates, this dovetail tool allows making joints for furniture or other wood products.  Moreover, the levers provide fast fixation of workpieces, which is crucial for reducing the time for fulfilling your orders.

detailed parameters
Base width

12"

Joint options

Half-Blind, Sliding, Through, Box Joint

Accessories

3 Templates - Models 4211, 4213, 4215, 4 Template Guides - Models 42037, 42040, 42046, 42054, 4 Router Bits - Models 43776PC, 43743PC, 43014PC, 43777PC, 2 Lock Nuts - Model 42237, Wrench

Extras

On-board instructions, Machined aluminum template, Durable, Single-piece steel base design, Clamps or bolts directly to workbench

Warranty

3 years

PROS

The scales at both ends of the tool allow measuring the travel of fingers hence they can be moved with .5000" increments for high-accuracy cuts.

CONS

The positioning of the fingers takes a long time while working across the entire length.

OUR VERDICT

Since this model comes with adjustable templates, you'll be able to make patterns for symmetric and asymmetric connections. Besides, the model can handle several pieces at once.

detailed parameters
Base width

12"

Joint options

Half-Blind, Through, Sliding, Single Pass, Finger/Box, Isoloc, Angled, Inlaid, End on End, Raised

Accessories

1/2'' 8° dovetail bit, 1/2'' 14° dovetail bit, 5/16'' straight bit, 1/2'' to 8mm collet reducer, Cam action speed clamps, Sliding dovetail fence, Square drive screwdriver, Spacer, Leigh e-Bush, Half-blind bridge piece material

Extras

Infinitely adjustable guide fingers, Sliding dovetails, "Single Pass" half-blind dovetails, Non-slip clamping surface, Cam action clamps, Under cut side stops, Easy to read scales

Warranty

5 years

PROS

The model can be installed on any cutter thanks to the reversible design.

CONS

This tool allows you to make only box joints.

OUR VERDICT

This dovetail joint jig allows cutting straight and through joints right on a router table or with a table saw. The model is great for a home use.

detailed parameters
Base width

~20"

Joint options

Box Joint

Accessories

Blade guard, Deflector shield, GlideLOCK™

Extras

The revolutionary design allows faster setup, greater versatility, and improved user safety compared to traditional jigs, Use it on your table saw or router table, Reversible design, Exclusive dual-pitch lead screw mechanism, Exclusive INCRA GlideLOCK

Warranty

1 year

PROS

The model is lightweight and compact, hence is easy to mount and store.

CONS

Provides no safeguards against cutters.

OUR VERDICT

If you have a router table and are fond of woodcraft, we highly recommend you to pay attention to this model. It allows for the setting of the cut depth and width in a simple and clear way.

detailed parameters
Base width

10-3/4"

Joint options

Box joint

Accessories

Platform, 2 Mounting Hardware, Backer Sled, 2 Pre-drilled Holes for Sacrificial Face, 1/4'' Indexing Key,  3/8'' Indexing Key, 1/2'' Indexing Key

Extras

Stable MDF platform has low-friction melamine coating, ABS plastic backer sled, Easy-grip knobs, Up-cut spiral bits

Warranty

1 year

PROS

The depth gauge allows precise alignment of pieces for perfectly matched and tight joints.

CONS

The cutting width and template width are not adjustable.

OUR VERDICT

Generally, it's a pretty simple to use yet functional dovetail jig that allows processing small workpieces as well as large ones on a router table.

detailed parameters
Base width

12"

Joint options

Full Through, Box Joint, Half Blind, Edge Joint

Accessories

Jig, #870B Router Bit, Alignment tool, Allen wrench, Four face clamps and thumb screws, Two router table guide knobs

Extras

Self-aligning design, Adjustable for loose or tight joints, New table router control knobs improve safety, comfort and accuracy, No need to bolt jig to workbench, Integrated clamps, Accommodates boards of any width, One-piece aluminum construction

Warranty

1 year

What is a Dovetail Jig

A dovetail joint is one of the most reliable connections. Formerly, joiners had to have a rich experience and a lot of patience when making dovetail connections with hammers and chisels. That was the job for the most diligent workers as it required taking precise measurements and doing a perfect cutting. Nonetheless, the emergence of routers made the woodworking operations considerably easier. Over time, various accessories for routers started to emerge too.

Dovetail jigs are among these accessories and are made as metal templates. Moving the router along the dovetail jig lines, you can quickly make a dovetail joint.

Thus, a dovetail jig is certainly very helpful for quick and accurate cutting of tenons and mortises with a wood router. If the woodturning is your cup of tea and you spend a lot of time doing it, a router table will help you in processing massive workpieces.

What Features to Compare

Type and design

A dovetail jig consists of a metal template and the base it rests upon. The base features clamps for wooden pieces and fasteners for securing the base on a countertop. In general, the jigs are divided into bench-mounted and router table jigs. Speaking of bench-mounted jigs, they are usually secured with vises. Router-table jigs are used with guides that are mounted on tables. After deciding on the device type, you need to determine the jig width. Generally, bench-mounted models are 12 to 24" wide while router table jigs are of different sizes. That's because router table jigs can handle one workpiece at once while bench-mounted models can work with four and more pieces. Moreover, pieces can be arranged so that you can cut tails on one workpiece and recesses on the other in one pass.

Templates

Templates are the key elements of dovetail jigs as they define the variety of joints that can be made with their help. There are stationary and adjustable template models. As for adjustable models, they allow making joints with the required distance between them. These jigs commonly feature fingers of different lengths and shapes for making such types of joints as half-blind, rabbeted half-blind, through dovetail, sliding dovetail, and other types. Dovetail jigs may come with two and more templates, thus we recommend you to stock a number of templates or pick a jig with adjustable fingers if you deal with many types of joints.

Usability

Pay attention to the way a workpiece is secured on the dovetail jig, the simpler the workholding the more reliable it is and the more comfort you have working with it. Some models feature clamp bolts for holding a workpiece at both ends, which require tightening. Also, jigs may come with a single clamp bolt that allows securing a workpiece practically by the wave of the hand, which is more convenient for an operator. Some dovetail jigs include vacuum ports to remove chips and dust after the cutting. Concerning router table jigs, it is better to have them with reversible bases as router tables feature left or right slots. Moreover, there are models which may be installed on a router table or a table saw and are truly convenient!

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Review of PORTER-CABLE Dovetail Jig

PORTER-CABLE Dovetail Jig

PORTER-CABLE Dovetail Jig

A Nice Package

The PORTER-CABLE 4216 dovetail jig can be installed on any table by tightening four cam clamps. Two lock cams on the front and top of this model allow installing two wood pieces orthogonally. So, you can cut notches in one piece and tails in the other in one pass and save the time, getting a perfect joint faster. Owing to its 12" length, the jig can accommodate two to four workpieces to accelerate the work. As for the thickness, the jig is able to secure 1/4 to 1-1/4" pieces, which is great for a home workshop. The supply package includes 3 templates, 2 lock nuts, wrench, and instruction manual.

Review of PORTER-CABLE Dovetail Jig

Choose and Work!

The outfit of this dovetail tool includes three aluminum templates for cutting joints straight out of the box. The template 4211 is designed for making half-blind, rabbeted half-blind and sliding dovetails. The 4213 template allows making box joints and through dovetails. Lastly, the 4215 template is designed for cutting the joints of the mentioned types but smaller in size. Having this arsenal of templates, you'll be able to make reliable joints for assembling drawers, window and door frames. The jig can be also used for joining parquetry and making furniture of a custom design. For example, with these templates, you can cut finger joints for chair legs to attach them to a seat.

PORTER-CABLE Dovetail Jig in the use

Accessory Bolts

Among the convenience features this dovetail jig has to offer, the simple and quick locking pieces were the most appealing. The point is that the jig is fitted with two locking bars with a lever on each. Thus, you can hold a workpiece with one hand and tighten a bar with another. It would seem there's nothing special about the design but in practice, it is incredibly convenient and greatly facilitates the tool use. Moreover, we used two height-adjustable locking bolts, which serve as templates for fast setting the cutting depth. For example, setting one of the bolts for cutting half-blind joints and the other for through joints, you can adjust the cutter overhang without using a ruler every time. The bars feature only two rubber pads hence the jig can hold only two workpieces at a time and we deem it a shortcoming.

Generally, this PORTER-CABLE jig is suitable for starters and skilled woodworkers who need a wide range of joints and appreciate a fast material processing and high capacity.

Detailed review of PORTER-CABLE Dovetail Jig

Get Rid Of Dust

If you have a workroom, it's very advisable to keep it clean. This jig is equipped with a port to connect a vacuum cleaner for removing dust and chips from your workplace.

PORTER-CABLE Dovetail Jig application

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


PORTER-CABLE Dovetail Jig
PORTER-CABLE Dovetail Jig
 
Review of Leigh Dovetail Jig

Leigh Dovetail Jig

Leigh Dovetail Jig

A Nice Bonus

The Leigh has been making jigs and router accessories for 35 years and dovetail jigs are among its major line of products. For our review, we chose the Leigh Super 12" dovetail joint jig. The 18" and 24" versions are also available for more mass production-oriented projects. Starting from the jig's base, it consists of two profiles made of aircraft-grade aluminum. The cam action clamps are located on the top front area of the base with the two brackets for templates placed near the clamps. As a useful addition, the jig features the scale on the left side that allows positioning the template with a very high precision. The jig itself attaches to the worktop with four screws. The users will be pleased to find three bits in the package: 1/2" 8-degree dovetail bit, 1/2" 14-degree dovetail bit, and 5/16" straight bit. Hence, choosing this tool you can be sure you get yourself covered in terms of accessories. Also, the supply package contains nylon stop rod stops, the pull-out reference card, and the template with adjustable fingers, which we will describe further on.

Review of Leigh Dovetail Jig

Adjust For Yourself

The availability of the template with adjustable one-piece fingers is the main benefit of using this dovetail tool. The whole point is that each finger can be easily set to any position across the template for cutting joints according to various patterns including many unique ones. Even more to that, with the jig, you are capable of moving the finger assembly back and forth along the scale on the left. Therefore, by moving the fingers you can change the shape of pins and tails cut, making the joints narrower or wider. To be more specific, here are some numbers. The through dovetails produced can have the 13/16" distance between them while half-blind joints can have 1" maximum spacing. As for the box joints, they can be positioned at 5/16" and 5/8" distances. In addition to the above-mentioned joints, the Leigh Super enables you to make sliding dovetails and half-blind dovetail joints. However, you need to keep in mind that the fingers adjustment may be pretty laborious as long workpieces require positioning of several fingers.

Leigh Dovetail Jig in the use

Two, Three or Four?

The very handy feature of the jig is its ability to process workpieces with up to 12" width. This means that in most cases you won't have to cut a workpiece to fit the tool but instead adjust the jig to the piece for an even joints distribution. The design of the Leight Super allows placing workpieces across the clamps, whether it's a single 12-inch wide piece or three 4-inch ones. To facilitate the tool operation more, it has a non-slip clamping surface for a secure workpiece grip. Another plus of the tool is that it makes cutting half-blind dovetails in a single pass. Such joints are the most widely used ones in making drawers, which are typical for dressers, for example, as they provide no visible connections on the front.

In our opinion, this Leigh dovetail jig is aimed more at experienced joiners that seek a high cutting accuracy and enhanced tool adjustability. Nevertheless, the detailed guide on the DVD included ensures an easy start even for beginning carpenters.

Detailed review of Leigh Dovetail Jig

Prevents You from Cutting Your Table

If you wish to avoid marring your work table, you can screw the jig to a board and fasten it to the table with a vise.

Leigh Dovetail Jig application

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


Leigh Dovetail Jig
Leigh Dovetail Jig
 
Review of INCRA I-BOX Jig for Box Joints

INCRA I-BOX Jig for Box Joints

INCRA I-BOX Jig for Box Joints

Move The Jig

The next product we are examining today is the dovetail joint jig by the INCRA. In practice, the model is the extension designed for router tables and table saws. This model by the INCRA is in essence different from bench-mounted models. The jigs of another type stay fixed while the router is moved along their edges, this jig on the contrary mounts on a workpiece and moves along the pattern while the router remains still. Moving further to the design, we would like to highlight the aluminum bar that holds the guide underneath. This guide provides a smooth movement of the jig in the miter slot. From the size perspective, the guide fits 3/4 x 3/8" miter slots. This woodworking equipment provides workpiece fastening with a wooden vice. The jig is able to secure 1/4" to 7/8" thick pieces, while the work stock length is actually not limited, though it is advised to use pieces of up to 16" size. Apart from the guide, the jig package includes front and rear blade guards, the MDF fence to support a workpiece, and plastic shield.

Review of INCRA I-BOX Jig for Box Joints

All You Need Is the Right Setting

Considering the design of this dovetail tool, we were not surprised that it allows making only finger joints that are common for cabinets. The jig operation is quite easy, so using it is not a problem even for a beginner. Still, taking the initial measurements and setting the miter bar correctly is the most complex task when using the tool. The bar features two ledges that can be adjusted by moving closer or away from each other depending on the cut width. Say, if you need to cut a 1/8" recess, the distance between ledges needs to be exactly 1/8". With that, the distance from the closest ledge to the blade is to be the same. The ledges are adjusted with red and silver knobs located on the side of the jig base. The cutting depth is recommended to set within 7/8" to avoid the contact between the miter bar and cutter.

INCRA I-BOX Jig for Box Joints in the use

Router Table or Table Saw

As for the usability of this dovetail jig, it is impossible not to note its quick and easy installation. To use the tool you won't have to drill holes in the table or pick a vise. It is enough to place the miter bar into the slot. The greatest thing about this jig is that it can be installed on a router table or a table saw. Thus, if you have the latter, you'll be able to cut workpieces and make joints right on the spot. Convenient, isn't it? The jig also features the sturdy acrylic deflector shield mounted on the front blade guard to keep your eyes safe from wood chips and particles. However, as any equipment, the jig has some downsides. In our opinion, the dovetailing is a bit uncomfortable as a workpiece requires loosening and securing again after each pass.

Nevertheless, this drawback is trivial considering that the INCRA model is designed for beginners and persons practicing an occasional cutting template use. Hence, this dovetail joint jig is a splendid choice for small workshops featuring router tables or table saws.

Detailed review of INCRA I-BOX Jig for Box Joints

Turn Any Side

Picking this jig, you won't have troubles with installing it as the model is bidirectional and can be mounted on either left or right saws.

INCRA I-BOX Jig for Box Joints application

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


INCRA I-BOX Jig for Box Joints
INCRA I-BOX Jig for Box Joints
 
Review of Rockler Box Joint Jig

Rockler Box Joint Jig

Rockler Box Joint Jig

Compact and Lightweight

Rockler is a large company evolved from a small family business of woodworking equipment supply that was founded by Norton Rockler in 1954. Our current review lists the Router Table Box Joint Jig by the Rockler brand. As one can see, this is a compact tool for router tables only. The peculiarity of the tool is that its MDF platform features the oval opening that suits only for a router bit but not for a saw blade. Speaking about the design in more details, the jig baseplate is suitable for the use with 3/4" miter slots. The platform features two big clamps for the structure secure locking into a miter slot. There are 3 grooves on the platform, two for moving the backer sled, and one for placement of indexing keys.

Review of Rockler Box Joint Jig

Three Helpers

This dovetail router jig comes with 3 aluminum indexing keys to be installed into corresponding platform slots. The keys are 1/4", 3/8", 1/2" wide and are designed to cut pins and sockets. To get a symmetrical 1/4" dovetail joint, you need to set the indexing key and the bit of a corresponding diameter, in addition, you need to set the 1/4" distance between the key and the bit. After completing this procedure, you'll be capable of getting equally spaced pins and recesses. In a similar way, you can change the size of the joints cut by adjusting the distance between the bit and key or selecting a different bit. The minimum cuts are 1/4" in size, while the maximum is limited with the width of the bits opening. Please also notice that that the stock thickness needs to be within the 3/4" value with the length enough for a safe handling.

Rockler Box Joint Jig in the use

As Easy as It Gets

This model is one of the simplest to use box joint jigs. It can be installed on a router table within a minute and offers a super easy adjustment of the cutting depth. The tool dimensions are quite small, 10-3/4" x 12-3/8" x 1/2", and the weight is about 3,35 lbs. With such compact size, the model allows the use even with a small table and can be kept in a tool cabinet or under a table. The distinguishing feature of the Box Joint Jig design is two holes in the platform for attaching the device to a board. Before getting started with the cutting, you need to make a hole for the router bit and sled in the board. And that are all the preparations for making through and tight-fitting finger joints.

As you can see, using this dovetail tool is one of the easiest ways for cutting box joints with the jig fit for beginning carpenters and wood crafting amateurs.

Detailed review of Rockler Box Joint Jig

Safety Above All

Operating a router, you risk harming your ear due to a noisy workflow. Thus, don't forget to use personal protective equipment like hearing protectors.

Rockler Box Joint Jig application

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


Rockler Box Joint Jig
Rockler Box Joint Jig
 
Review of General Tools Pro Dovetailer II Dovetail Jig

General Tools Pro Dovetailer II Dovetail Jig

General Tools Pro Dovetailer II Dovetail Jig

Router Table? OK! Router Only? No Problem!

The General Tools has a 100-year experience in making tools for craftsmen and DIYers and the E-Z Pro Dovetailer II is among their products. This model has somewhat uncommon design and can be used on router tables as well as standalone routers. The jig is made of aluminum and is designed with 4 clamps for securing workpieces in place. Let us take a closer look at the way pieces are to be secured on the tool. When a router table is in use, you need to clamp the workpiece to the jig and do the cutting of recesses by moving the structure along the router's bit. If you have a router only, the procedure is a bit more complicated. First, you need to secure a piece to the workbench with screw clamps, and then attach the jig to the piece. Having completed these operations, you can cut grooves in the piece by contouring the jig with your router. Eventually, this model by the General Tools is the best alternative if you have just a router and don't want to buy a table.

Review of General Tools Pro Dovetailer II Dovetail Jig

No Limits

After using the jig we discovered that its fingers are non-adjustable so the joint size is permanent. In contrast, the depth of cutting half-blind dovetail joints can be adjusted with the plate. This piece of equipment also enables you to make box joints and edge to edge joints. As for the dovetailing capacity, the jig can make pins with the length of up to 1/2" at the maximum inclination angle of 14°. The machinable piece thickness is capped at 1" while the length is not restricted. That's because you can shift the jig away from the cutter leaving the untreated area beyond the structure jig-piece. The procedures described refer to the use of a standalone router when the workpiece is secured on the countertop.

General Tools Pro Dovetailer II Dovetail Jig in the use

Handy Template

The bidirectional design of this model provides an advanced use depending on parameters of workpieces and a router table. It's a very handy feature that allows handling both small and bulky pieces. You can use the accessory template of the jig for cutting half-blind joints. Once you finished cutting pins in a workpiece, you can use the workpiece for shaping the tails on the other to make the joints that match perfectly. Another convenience feature this tool has to offer are the plastic caps on the clamps. They are provided to avoid damaging workpieces while clamping. During the use, we noticed that the jig comes with 4 clamps but features 6 holes. The extra holes allow you to arrange clamps closer to each other for securing smaller pieces.

So, this dovetail tool is a nice buying for those who often handles various stocks as well as for craftspeople that have no router tables and look for affordable jigs.

Detailed review of General Tools Pro Dovetailer II Dovetail Jig

Did You Know?

Dovetail jigs can be used not only for making joints but hinges as well. The hinges cut with the help of a jig make the solutions unique and tasteful.

General Tools Pro Dovetailer II Dovetail Jig application

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


General Tools Pro Dovetailer II Dovetail Jig
General Tools Pro Dovetailer II Dovetail Jig
 

Sources:

1. Dovetail joint, Wikipedia. March 7, 2017.

2. Using a Dovetail JigDIY Network.

3. How to Use a Dovetail Jig Router, Technology Education, Archbold School.

4. Economy Dovetail JigLee Valley Tools

5. Bill Krier with Chuck Hedlund 9 steps to great-looking Half-Blind DovetailsWOOD Magazine Staff.

6. 12-minute dovetailsWOOD Magazine Staff.

7. J. Norman Reid Getting the Best From Your Dovetail JigHighland Woodworking.

8. What is a Dovetail Jig? wiseGEEK.