March 26, 2022
Using a table router dovetail jig to cut the dovetail joints is the most efficient and time-saving method compared to other alternative ways. However, there are many things to have to take into consideration.
As a beginner in woodworking, you might have seen some woodworking projects that involved the use of dovetail joints. You might have marveled likewise at how those dovetail joints were wrought. Dovetail joints, of course, are beautiful joineries that belong to one of the oldest types of wood joineries. They are also some of the strongest joints you can ever make as a woodworker.
Despite being one of the oldest woodworking joints, the dovetail joint is still one of the most used and recognized joints in woodworking. You can see this joint in furniture, drawers, log buildings, carcass, and timber framing. Moreover, you might think this joint type is easy to make. Yet, it is tricky and a bit challenging to make.
Carpenters and joiners of the past used chisels and hammers when making this joint in their workpieces. However, at present, you don’t need to use chisels and hammers to make this joint. Instead, you can use a router and dovetail jigs to make accurate mortises and tenons. With the use of dovetail jigs, you can make dovetail joints that are perfectly made.
The Dovetail Jigs Most Recommended by Experts for Router Table
The market is awash with myriads of jig types for making dovetail joints. Hence, the choosing process becomes a bit confusing if you’re a newbie in woodworking. To make it easy for you to choose the best dovetail jigs, you can check out the following most recommended dovetail jigs for the router table:
1) LEIGH RTJ400 Router Table Joinery Jig
One of the most recognized companies in manufacturing dovetail jigs is LEIGH. This company seems to be coughing out excellent dovetail jigs that woodworkers would surely appreciate. The products of LEIGH, of course, aren’t cheap. Yet, you will find the LEIGH RTJ400 within the affordable range. Thus, it will be best to consider this dovetail jig from the other dovetail products of LEIGH.
The Leigh RTJ400 is fixed. With this dovetail jig, you can quickly create those pins and tails with accuracy and ease. This dovetail jig offers excellent versatility. With it, you can produce a wide array of dovetails, box joints, and half-blind dovetails. You can also make miniature dovetails using this dovetail jig.
This dovetail jig comes with excellent templates with a fantastic close teeth system. It also comes with guide bushings that can make your work highly accurate. It is of solid construction. Moreover, it comes with an excellent clamp system for ensuring smooth work sans any accident. This joinery jig can also accept boards up to sixteen inches in width.
- Cleverly made
- Works well with the router
- Features a sturdy and long-lasting jig with well-made metal parts
- Have some weak parts, especially those made of plastic
2) General Tools Woodworking Dovetail Jig
Another company with a century of experience in manufacturing tools for DIYers and craftsmen is General Tools. One such excellent product this company offers is the General Tools Woodworking Dovetail Jig. This dovetail jig comes with an unusual design, allowing you to use it for router tables and standalone routers.
This dovetail jig is wrought in aluminum and features four clamps that secure your workpiece firmly. You can’t adjust the template fingers of these dovetail jigs. But this tool is perfect for outdoor and indoor projects as well as household repairs. Moreover, you can create box joints as well as edge-to-edge joints.
This dovetail jig comes with excellent dovetailing capacity. It can make pins up to 12.7 mm in length with up to 14° of angle inclination. The wood piece you can machine is up to 2.5 mm in width, while its length isn’t restricted. You can shift away the jig from the router cutter, leaving the untreated area untouched.
This dovetail jig comes with a bi-directional design that allows for advanced usage, depending on the workpiece’s parameters. This feature comes in handy and allows for easy handling of both bulky and small pieces. You can also utilize its accessory template to cut half-blind joints. Once done with the pin cutting, you can utilize the workpiece to shape the tails.
It also comes with plastic caps on its clamps. These plastic caps prevent damage to workpieces while you clamp. Moreover, this jig features six holes while only having four clamps. The extra holes will let you set the clamps closer to one another to secure your smaller pieces.
3) Keller Dovetail System 135-1500
Another excellently performing dovetail jig is the Keller Dovetail System 135-1500. This dovetail jig offers remarkable performance at an affordable price. It comes with a fifteen-inch template that lets you make tails and pins of perfect sizes and shapes. Yet, before you can utilize its template, you must have a backing woodblock. This backing woodblock doesn’t come with this product. You can create this woodblock given the following dimensions of 2.25″ x 3.5″ x 18″.
This dovetail jig also comes with the needed screws for fixing the template to this woodblock. It also comes with two router bits, allowing you to make the necessary sizes and shapes you want to make.
The good thing about this dovetail jig is the ease of installment it offers. Besides, it is easy to use. Hence, many newbies and artisans prefer and appreciate this dovetail system. This dovetail system is perfect for materials ranging from three-eighths inch to three-fourths inch in thickness. For this reason, you need to consider this range of thickness before you ever decide to purchase it.
- Easy to set up and use
- Provides accurate shaping
- Comes at a great price
- You can use it with handheld routers and router tables
- Doesn’t come with the necessary woodblock
4) Leigh TD330
Another excellent offering by LEIGH is the Leigh TD330. This dovetail jig is perfect for wood materials with a maximum width of 12-7/8″ and a maximum thickness of 13/16″. Its template is made of glass-filled nylon (30%), giving this dovetail jig extra durability.
You can’t adjust its fingers freely to the desired position you desire. Yet, despite this limitation, it offers ease of use and remarkable uniformity. Moreover, this jig provides you with a half-an-inch dovetail bit (8-degree) and a half-an-inch straight bit..
With the depth of these bits, your projects become achievable and workable. Besides, it features a remarkable e10 guide bushing. This guide bushing only fits onto a 1-3/4″ counterbore insert ring in diameter. Hence, you need to check this aspect before you purchase one of these dovetail jigs.
- Offers incredible ease of use
- Comes with clear instructions for its usage
- Features an excellent standard bit
- Works incredibly well
- Seems a bit fragile
5) Dovetail Jig Master System of Peachtree
The Peachtree Dovetail Jig is wrought in anodized aluminum, machined for excellent durability and accuracy. Hence, it doesn’t tend to break upon impact, nor does it chip. You will see this aluminum template mounted onto a solid and sturdy mounting block. The mounting block, however, is not included in the kit.
This jig comes with two delineated lines on the pin side’s bottom and top part. This feature makes aligning simple and easy. It also comes with two bits.
You can quickly make your joinery after unboxing this dovetail kit. Moreover, the range of thickness of the stock you can work on is from five-eighths to three-fourths-inch thick.
- Offers excellent durability with its machined iodized aluminum make
- Comes with router bits
- Usable out of the box
- Offers ease of alignment
- Doesn’t come with the mounting block
Factors You Should Consider When Selecting Table Router Dovetail Jigs
Finding the best table router dovetail saw becomes a bit easy if you know the most recommended dovetail jigs for table routers. Yet, you can further zero in on the best table router dovetail jigs if you know the necessary factors you should consider when choosing a table router dovetail jig:
Dovetail Joint Template Types
You will find two types of dovetail joint templates: fixed dovetail jig template and variable dovetail jig template. This template features stationary comb teeth. This template gets wrought in one-piece aluminum. Hence, you can’t change the position of its comb teeth. You will make pins and tails of similar size and shape with this template.
The pros of using this type of template include being quick and easy to use. Moreover, because it doesn’t need alignment of comb teeth, there’s no need for calculating the distance between those comb teeth.
The variable template, on the other hand, comes with freely moving comb teeth. This template is flexible and adjustable, allowing you to fix and adjust the comb teeth position according to your liking. This template comes with a screw system that you can loosen for easy adjustment.
The use of this template comes with an obvious advantage: first, it allows you to make box joints and dovetail joints of various shapes and positions. Yet, you will need time and precision when aligning and measuring the distance of the comb teeth.
Another factor you must consider is the size of the template. You need to check the size of the template to ensure you can use it with your router. You should review the maximum size and width that the dovetail jig can accommodate. Check how wide the boards you can work with the dovetail jig.
You might not need jigs that could work with wider boards at present. Yet, in the future, you might transition to working on larger boards. At the onset, it will be best, therefore, to choose dovetail jigs that could accommodate the largest thickness and width of boards.
Choose products that let you work with thicker materials up to 1” to 1-1/2″ thick. You should likewise check the dimensions of the dovetail jig. Check the distance between teeth. Check the depth likewise. Moreover, ensure that there are no dimensional errors.
Another aspect you need to consider is the board size. Remember that many jigs can only deal with bars of specific sizes before removing and repositioning those boards. Yet, the more frequent you move and reposition the boards, the higher the possibility of error.
If you are engaged in cabinet making, you can get by with a 12″ capacity to make drawers because drawers are mostly not deeper than 12 inches. Yet, if the drawer goes deeper, you need to have a jig with a larger capacity. If you would engage in making crates and boxes, you will need up to 24″ range.
This factor is crucial to the success of your project. If your dovetail jig doesn’t provide accuracy, you will have sloppy and loose joints. In the worst case, you will have joints that don’t even fit at all. Hence, when choosing a dovetail jig, ensure that it offers optimum accuracy. Remember that a jig is of high quality if it provides increased accuracy.
Therefore, you need to check the jig’s fittings, hardware, and clamps if they are sturdy and do not shift. Any minor shift in their positions will lead to inaccurate joints. You can check out the abovementioned brands and models for quality and highly accurate dovetail jigs.
If you’re passionate about woodworking, you should invest in an excellent dovetail jig. With such a jig, you can do various projects to decorate and enhance your house and room. Moreover, you can raise your level of woodworking a notch higher if you can tinker with this kind of jig and other similar jigs.
Remember that the types of joints you make as a woodworker determine the woodworking skills you have achieved. Of course, with this dovetail jig, you don’t need to belabor the process of cutting dovetail joints. Lastly, you get spared from cutting and shaping those delicate pins and tails manually.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker, carpenter and author who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.