Whether you are a beginner or an expert woodworker, dovetail joint cutting is a must have in your toolkit. However, finding the best dovetail jig can be a challenge.
The key to choosing the right dovetail jig for you is to match your skill level and intent with the tool. Thankfully, there are several options to choose from that fit your needs.
1. Porter-Cable 4216 Super Jig
The Porter-Cable 4216 Super Jig is an excellent choice for any woodworker looking to get the best possible dovetail joint cut on their router. This jig comes complete with all the templates you need to cut through dovetails, rabbeted half-blind dovetails, sliding dovetails, and box or finger joints.
This jig features heavy-duty cam-type clamps with sandpaper-backed locking bars that provide a firm grip of wood and accept stock from 1/4 to 1-1/8′′ thick. It also includes on-board instructions for use in various applications and machined aluminum templates that provide superior cutting accuracy and long term durability.
This jig also includes a router bit depth gauge that allows you to set the bit depth without measuring, so you can start cutting straight away. It also has template alignment lines that make setting up for common cuts simple and easy. This makes it one of the easiest jigs to use on the market.
2. General Tools 861 Portable Aluminum Dovetail Jig
Whether you’re a beginner or a professional woodworker, a dovetail jig is an essential tool to have in your shop. They can cut a variety of joints, including through-dovetails and box joints. They can also be used to create half-blind dovetails, which add a beautiful and secure touch to boxes.
The General Tools 861 Portable Aluminum Dovetail Jig is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to build their own furniture or cabinets from scratch. It features a self-aligning design that ensures both ends of your joint will match up evenly every time you use it.
It can be used with both handheld and table routers, and is compatible with all woodworking projects that require dovetail joinery. It includes a 1/2-inch dovetail router bit, an instructional CD and product manual for easy use.
Dovetail jigs range in price, so it’s important to find one that is appropriate for your current skill level and intended use. If you plan to use your dovetail jig for custom work and want it to adapt as you develop your skills, a more expensive option with higher functionality may be the best choice.
3. Leigh D4R Pro
The Leigh D4R Pro is an all-in-one tool that does a lot of things well. It does through dovetails, half-blind dovetails, sliding dovetails and box joints (finger joints).
The guide fingers on the D4R Pro are adjustable and can be set in four different joint modes. These modes are based on what type of joint you are routing and what part of it needs to be cut.
When routing through dovetails, for example, you need a bit that matches the dovetail angle to be cut on the jig. The D4R is very good at this, and it’s a huge improvement over other jigs that require the use of two cutters to match the dovetail angle to be cut.
The D4R also can do half the work for you when cutting hybrid hand/machine joints, such as those with pins that taper to nearly nothing for genuine hand-cut impact. This automates a lot of the work, which frees you up to spend more time designing creative, aesthetically appealing layouts.
4. Keller Dovetail System
Whether you are a pro woodworker or a weekend warrior, dovetailing is one of the best ways to build cabinets and drawers of all sizes. Do it properly and the results will be sturdy and beautiful, and you won’t have to worry about the dreaded glue joint.
While the old standby of hand cutting dovetails is still a viable option, the latest and greatest dovetailing tools can make you more productive in less time. For example, the Keller Dovetail System is a one-piece kit that can be quickly mounted to the workbench or attached to a shelf for convenient storage. It comes with two router bits and a double-sided template with a cleverly engineered ball-bearing guide that rides along the template plate.
The top rated dovetail jigs on the market can range from expensive to budget friendly, but only the best will help you make that all important first cut. The best jigs have all the functionalities and features you could ever want, including a smooth rip fence and variable speed motor, plus all the safety features a seasoned woodworker would expect.