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Thread: Poorter Cable 4212 Dovetail jig

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Westphalia, Michigan

    Poorter Cable 4212 Dovetail jig

    Hi all, I bought this jig a while back and used it a few times for half blind dovetails. This was for a bunch of utility drawers for a shop cabinet.

    So yesterday my son wanted to build some kitchen drawers, it's complicated, but we are building a few temporary drawers to replace broken drawers as a practice run for using better wood. So some simple pine drawers was the idea. Decided to just use the 3/4" run of the mill stock for the drawer parts. We weren't concerned with precision fit and decided to use the full 3/4" thickness so the drawers would be strong and not fall apart like the existing drawers had. Figured a through dovetail would be nice.

    So yesterday I spent several hours trying to understand the supplied instruction manual for the Poor-ter Cable dovetail jig. Now the jig comes looking well made. Having been an engineer, I am nearly certain that an engineer wrote the instruction manual. Now I am not slandering all engineers, after all not all of us are verbally challenged and speak in nonsensical complicated language designed to confuse or obfuscate. What I attempted to do was read and follow the instructions. None of the attempted practice joints were successful. It wasn't until I went to bed and allowed my frustration to subside, that the rational practical side of my brain was allowed to work. It went something like this "hey you dummy, how are you going to make a 3/4" through dovetail using a cutter designed for 1/2" " In other words, if my thinking is correct, a 1/2" dovetail bit only has an angled, dovetail shaped cut, of around 5/8" deep. This means that the tails won't be deep enough for 3/4" thick wood utilizing through dovetails.

    Is my thinking correct? ..........So admitting my ignorance in the world of dovetails, I must say that there are glaring omissions in the supplied instructions. For instance it might have been handy to state that there is a maximum thickness of wood that can be through dovetailed. Probably an obvious bit of knowledge to you dovetail experts.

    Someday when I get a my woodworking bench built, I will learn how to hand cut dovetails so this won't be an issue.

    I will also add that I taught people how to MIG weld, and as a teacher, one of the most valuable skills to have is not a P.h.d. in welding, but being able understand what the STUDENT needs to understand so they can learn.

    Lastly, I may have been a bit harsh with Porter Cable, but I do have several of their tools and like the quality.
    I'm a certifiable tree hugger. (it's a poor mans way of determining DBH before cutting the tree down)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Escondido, CA
    I should know this, but I don't. I only have experience with the half blind dovetail jig. But having said that, I know Porter Cable to have one of the better dovetail jigs out there. I also remember that the instruction manual for the half blind jig was obtuse in that very important information was hidden in plain sight. A thickness restriction would be pretty important and it might be there, but I cannot envision why. The depth of the dovetails that accommodates the thickness of the material lies in the distance the template from the front edge of the material. Hopefully that thought will open some doors.

    I am on my way out of town for two days, or I would attempt to download the manual and see if I could help. Maybe tonight at the motel if you're still stuck.

    My Router Lady reputation is at risk here. Sigh........

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Downes View Post
    ...I will also add that I taught people how to MIG weld, and as a teacher, one of the most valuable skills to have is not a P.h.d. in welding, but being able understand what the STUDENT needs to understand so they can learn...
    That concept is vital, and unfortunately it's overlooked by too many teachers, huh?
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Information from the manual seems to indicate that 3/4 thickness is not a limitation.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    After browsing through the manual, I confirmed that I will stick to doing dovetails by hand. I would rather spend my time trying to assemble Ikea furniture...less frustrating.
    “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” - John Ruskin
    “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” - Oscar Wilde

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Westphalia, Michigan
    From what I understand the limitation is that the flute length of the cutter at about 5/8" long and is the limiting factor. After that you are into the shank and the dovetail profile can't be cut any deeper. With the straight bit you can cut the pins deeper. But the tail depth is limited by the cutter profile.
    The only solution I can see is to either buy a 3/4" dovetail bit or hand cut the dovetails. I went ahead and thinned the side boards down to 1/2" and used a half blind dovetail.

    The funny thing is that when I bought the jig the salesman said it was simple to use and the Leigh jig was complicated and hard to understand. Looking at the Leigh instructions online today I noticed that the instructions were clearly stated.
    I'm a certifiable tree hugger. (it's a poor mans way of determining DBH before cutting the tree down)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    East Freeetown, Massachusetts
    My first Dovetail jig was the HF dovetail jig. Wanna talk about instructions? Wanna talk about a flimsy jig. Well anyway, I am one of those engineers. I do write work instructions, but those that use my instructions LOVE them.

    I got the HF jig to work for me and I used it many times, but what a challange every time.

    Finally, I let the moths out of my wallet and I got a Porter Cable Dovetail jig. Granted I have done only half blind but what a nice jig it is. I get the setup in a couple of minutes and the joint are beautiful. I followed the instructions that I thought were fairly good. Done many joints with the PC jig now and I still like it.

    Next is to do CNC dovetail joints, without a jig.

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