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Thread: Dovetail jig setup

  1. #1

    Dovetail jig setup

    Hi everyone

    I am trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong using my PC dovetail jig, I can't get the tops of the drawer to line up.

    What guidance can you give me about using the right and left hand side of the jig? On page 110 of Carol Reed's Router Joinery Workshop she mentions "with the two "right" corners routed, slide the spacer to the right and clamp the appropriate side piece to the front of the jig, positioning it on the left side of the jig and aligned with the left fence.

    I am totally befuddled!

    Any help will be appreciated, I am going through practice scrap at a fast rate! The joints are tight but I obviously am missing something in the marking/ setup process.

    Are one set of opposite corners of the drawer considered the "right" side and the others the "left"? I noticed that I was a bit off in my centering, the half tails aren't exactly the same size. As I turn the drawer around in my hands, the skinny tail is at the top of one corner, down at the bottom of the next, up at the top in the next corner and down in the last corner.

    I am using a PC 4210 jig with the miniature dovetail template.

    Thanks for the help

    Thanks in advance for your help!

  2. #2
    Steve Clardy Guest
    Not sure Jay. I have the 4212

    I do all my work on the left side of the jig. No alignment issues

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Punta Gorda, Florida
    I do not have the PC but have an Akeda but I think that this will apply to you also. If the cuts are not going to be perfectly symmetrical, which it sounds like that yours are not, I have to have a duplicate setup on both the left and right sides of the jig. Then for forming the tail pieces I cut one end on the left and change it end for end, keeping the same side toward me, and cut the second end on the right side of the jig. This keeps the slim pieces on one side of the board and thick pieces on the other side of the board. Then I do the same thing for the pin pieces.

    It really helps me to lay out the pieces as they are going to be assembled and marking the insides and outsides and what piece that they are so that I can keep track. If it is not going to be symmetrical I also mark which side of the board will have the thin piece cut and which will have the thick piece cut.

    If they are going to be completely symmetrical and centered it will not make any difference which end of the jig that you use. You can cut all parts on the same end.

    This was so difficult to put into words that I do not know if it will make any sense to you but I tried.

    How is your pattern routeing going?

    Last edited by Allen Bookout; 04-29-2007 at 01:49 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Wake Forest, NC
    I believe the 4210 is the same as the 4212 just comes with different templates.

    I may be wrong, but I believe the offset that comes with the jig is not going to work with the miniature template. You may have to make a spacer to get them to line up correctly as I believe the offset that comes with it is for 1/2 inch dovetails.

    As for the skinny up and down, to me that is normal. Amounts to not having either your board the perfect dimensions for the template or not evenly spaced. Personally, I stick to just the left side of the template (which you are doing I suspect), but going to the right side would make the "skinny" one stay on the bottom. Just be sure to mark all your boards up front.

  5. #5
    Thanks for the advice guys.

    Travis, the miniature dovetail template came with a set of offsets (end guides?) to substitute for the ones that came with the jig.

    I swapped them out, but I can't center the piece of wood with the last slot on either end. So, I moved the piece in to center it, and then slid the offset up to meet the wood. Did this on both ends.

    Allen, I have an approach avoidance woodworking technique, if something is causing a problem, I try for awhile and then let it rest while I do something else. So, the pattern routing was set aside for the dovetail jig work. While I was waiting for input from you guys I started installing knife hinges on a cabinet that I"m building for LOML. The drawers are going to go inside the cabinet so I'll have to get back to them eventually. Right now I'm sanding -- Love the ROTEX


  6. #6
    Check out this link. It's a podcast from the folks who put out ShopNotes and Woodsmith regarding machine cut dovetails.

  7. #7
    I am currently dealing with exactly the same problem where the drawer front/back board does not line up with the drawer side.
    Page 10 of the manual tells you to center the workpiece between the farthest finger to the left and the nearest finger to the left of the template (this is eyeballing it). I even go as far as using a caliper to make sure there is an equal distance between the fingers. I called Porter Cable and described the problem, but they were not able to help. Thinking about it, once the tails board is centered and the left offset guide is set and tightened, it should not matter if it's not perfectly centered. If it's off center by, say 1/64th, then when the pins board is registered against the offset guide and routed, it also should be off center by the same amount and the boards should line up.
    I think the most important thing is to mark the inside and the outside of the boards to make sure that you mount them in the jig correctly.

    You can see in this picture how my boards do not line up:

  8. #8

    thanks for that! going to have to look through it again but lots of great information there,

    Alex, you're having the same problem I am, except that I am using the minature template.

    I got a reprieve, LOML, said that she doesn't want drawers inside the cabinet, just shelves, so the project can continue without me pulling out my hair over the drawers, but that doesn't mean I don't have to figure this out!


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Punta Gorda, Florida
    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Fiacco View Post
    Check out this link. It's a podcast from the folks who put out ShopNotes and Woodsmith regarding machine cut dovetails.
    Thanks for the link Henry. The guy that did the demo seemed very sharp. I just might subscribe to those magazines because of the video.

  10. #10
    I called Porter Cable yesterday and described the problem to someone who knew a thing or two about the jig. He said that I was cutting through DT by the book. At one point he thought that my drawer front and side were different widths. In this case only one edge would be misaligned, whereas in my case both edges are shifted to one side. I went ahead and remeasured both pieces anyway and they are both the same width. At this point we had exhausted all the possibilities. Then I asked him if it's possible that the template itself is off; he said that he has never seen such thing, but it's possible. When the template is flipped 180 to cut the pins, the pins fingers have to be in perfect relative alignment to the tails fingers. Long story short, PC is sending me a new template and I hope it solves my problem since I am ready to throw the jig against the wall.

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