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Thread: Router and dovetail jig

  1. #1
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    Router and dovetail jig

    I am going to have Between $300 and $350 in the next week or so and need to get a dovetail jig and would like to upgrade my router. Currently I have a 1/4" collet Ryobi router and the spindle has a habit of comeing unlocked when in use. My plan is is to spend around $200 on the router then the rest on the dt jig. I have only two brands that I will not deal with, Cman and Ryobi. So, any help in deciding which router and or dt jig would be helpfull. If possible I would like to get a combo packwith fixed and plunge base.

  2. #2
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    Al, what kind of dovetails do you want to do?

    For your basic through dovetails, I have the Keller Jig, cheap, and easy to set up and use.

    Cheers!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
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    Just to share my dovetail jig experience...

    Not too long after I got serious into woodworking (a couple years ago), I decided I needed a dovetail jig. It was burning a hole in my brain...I simply had to have one. I ended up buying the Rockler DT jig, with both through and half-blind templates. Then I realized the guide collar wouldn't fit my Craftsman router, and after a short search for a new baseplate for the Craftsman, I bought myself the variable speed P-C 690 with the fixed and plunge bases. (I didn't research the router much, I was mainly looking for one with the right sized hole for the guide collar, and it seemed P-C was the standard.) I ended up spending about $225 - $250 for the jig and router.

    Now, two years later, I've used the router a lot. Turns out the 690 is an industry standard. Dumb luck on my part. And I've used the DT jig on exactly one project -- a paper towel holder with a total of 8 dovetail cuts. It worked great, but I've not built anything since then that needed dovetails. Turns out I didn't really need the DT jig nearly as bad as I thought after all. Now you may have a more realistic need for one than I did, but I just thought I'd toss my experience out there for consideration. Of course, the first time I really do need to make dovetails, I'm all set.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
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  4. #4
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    PC, Bosch, De Walt, and many others make good, two base, 1/2" and 1/4" collet routers. Pick the one you like, as most people have a favorite and will recommend it. Vaughn is right about the dovetail jig. If you absolutely have to have one there seems to me to be two choices, either the cheapest (most of these are fixed spacing so in order to get half tails on work you have to be in even units, ie 4", 4 1/2") or if you anticipate custom/production work you might consider the Leigh or Akida which will blow your budget by themselves.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cecil Arnold View Post
    PC, Bosch, De Walt, and many others make good, two base, 1/2" and 1/4" collet routers. Pick the one you like, as most people have a favorite and will recommend it.
    I agree one hundred percent. Pick one of the major brands that has the best price at the time. I have four different brands and they all work good. Last year I bought a factory remanufactured DeWalt from ToolKing and saved quite a bit so if I could find one of these deals on a unit that I liked I would not hesitate. You have to watch out though as I have seen some sales plus rebate where you could buy a new one for almost the same price.

    I also agree with what has been said about dovetail jigs. Unless you have the need to do high end creative furniture right now just get one of the basic jigs and save yourself a LOT of money (I know about that as I have an Akeda). Use it for a while and see how much you really need the fancy stuff. A lot of people have the small PC, 4212 I think it is, and I have not seen a bad report yet. If I did not need to do half blind dovetails I think that I might get the Keller.
    Last edited by Allen Bookout; 04-14-2007 at 02:12 PM.

  6. #6
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    The Triton 2 1/4 HP plunge has been getting a lot of good press lately and is about $200. The Rockler jig (often on sale for $100 with blind and thru templates) works well for me but, I don't use it much. If I did a lot of DT work I would have to spring for a better jig or better chisels. That being said, it does a respectable job.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al killian View Post
    I am going to have Between $300 and $350 in the next week or so and need to get a dovetail jig and would like to upgrade my router. Currently I have a 1/4" collet Ryobi router and the spindle has a habit of comeing unlocked when in use. My plan is is to spend around $200 on the router then the rest on the dt jig. I have only two brands that I will not deal with, Cman and Ryobi. So, any help in deciding which router and or dt jig would be helpfull. If possible I would like to get a combo packwith fixed and plunge base.
    Al,

    As far as a Dovetail jig, I don't have one. My Dad has one that I can borrow, if need be. Here is my 2 cents worth on routers. I hope it helps some....

    I started with a Craftsman (fixed & plunge bases). It was Ok, but I needed something that would accept a 1/2 shank. I was looking at 3 differnt brands/models at the time: P-C (893PK), DeWalt (DW618), and Hitachi (KM12VC). I also had a $200 gift card to Lowes so that limited my choices somewhat. I was looking for a 2 base set, that ran at 2 hp or more, with the ability to accept both 1/4in and 1/2in bits. Some other things that became important were: Electronic Variable Speed (EVS), metal motor housing*(more on that later), spindle lock, clear base plates, and quality reviews.

    Based on price it was: Hitachi, then DeWalt, then P-C
    All had fixed and plunge bases
    All had the same 2 1/4 hp
    All would accept both size bits
    All had EVS
    All had metal motor housings
    Spindle Lock: P-C & DeWalt only required one wrench, where Hitachi needed 2.
    Quality reviews: Hitachi and DeWalt seemed to have better quality reviews for the models that I was looking at. It seemed like the older P-Cs (690s) held up better than the new one.

    In the end I went with the DeWalt 618, and I have been very happy with the decision. I put some pictures of it on the "what kind of router do you use" thread.

    *My note on metal motor housings:
    I put the fixed base of the Craftsman that I was using in my router table. It used a ring on the base to raise, lower and remove the motor. The motor on this router had a plastic housing. Some how in the process of inserting, raising and lowering the motor in the base, the threads became jamed. I had to use a 3 foot pipe wrench on the dial on the base to remove the router motor. It was enough of a headache, that I decided that I would never have another router with a plastic motor housing.
    Last edited by Sean Wright; 04-14-2007 at 04:16 PM.
    We create with our hands in wood what our mind sees in thought.
    Disclosure: Formerly was a part-time sales person & instructor at WoodCraft in Buffalo, NY.
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  8. #8
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    I have a need to make about 20 drawers for the shop,seven for the dvd cabinet and I need to make a few replacement drawers for a dresser I picked up. Next year we are planing on redoing or kicthen and will need it then. It will get used often enough to pay for itself. I would like to buy the leigh jig, but it is not in the budget at this time.The keller jig looks like it would work for most of my needs. I treid the HF DT jig and was not able to get it working proper and there help line is in india and the basicly told me to follow the steps in the manual. What about the Stots jig? It is cheap enough it will get me thru till next summer when I will have the fund to step up to a better jig.
    The router I have been looking at the most is a Bosch 1617EVSPK, 2, 1/4" w/ fixed and plunge base. I can get a refurb on for $179 vs. $219 new.
    This would leave a few bucks to but some more clamps or some bits.

  9. #9
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    Well, I have the Keller Jig, and while I've not used it a lot, when I have, it works very well, easy to set up too.

    Attachment 7251
    That is the first set of dovetail I ever cut with the Keller, worked like advertised, and the fellow at Keller, the owner, was a treat to deal with, even shipping to Japan.
    The only draw back I can see with it, is you have to use their bits, but I've not worn a set out, yet, and a few light passes with the small diamond hone, keeps it sharp.

    You can only do through dovetails.

    There you go, my additional two yen's worth

    Cheers!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al killian View Post
    The router I have been looking at the most is a Bosch 1617EVSPK, 2, 1/4" w/ fixed and plunge base. I can get a refurb on for $179 vs. $219 new.
    I do not think that you can go wrong with that one. I have several Bosch tools and I think that they are first class. Although I do not have this router it has had excellent ratings.

    I looked at the Slots jig a long time ago and as well as I remember it seems like that it was just a jig to make a jig. That did not really appeal to me considering the cost of a Keller. If you can use false fronts for your drawers it seems to me that you would have a very good set up for the money with the Bosch and a Keller.

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