You find dovetail jigs in different forms. Essentially a simple tool for holding pieces of material in place, you can then use a woodworking jointer to cut accurate tails and pins so what types are available?
Some of the simpler dovetail jigs come with nothing much in the box except the tool itself. You might find this type with a template already attached to the underside of the body. You’ll clamp the workpiece to the side of the jig’s body. You then move the jig toward the router to remove the negative space.
Most of the dovetail jigs we look at today come with a variety of separate templates. You’ll be able to cut a wide variety of joints from finger joints and half-blind joints through to mitered blind joints and through dovetails.
With our best dovetail jig reviews put to bed, we’ll round out with some handy hints on buying the most effective tool for your needs.
Who actually needs a dovetail jig in the first place, though.
Who Needs Dovetail Jigs?
If you’re looking to carry out any form of woodworking that calls for dovetail joints, a jig is more of a necessity than a luxury.
Cutting this type of joint by hand is not only incredibly time-consuming, it’s also extremely tough to get the accuracy and finished quality you want.
Whether you’re furniture making, cabinet making or racking up shelving, many woodworking projects call for this kind of precision joint. With the right jig in your workshop, making these joints is a matter of minutes not hours. You’ll not only get a much more precise finish, you’ll save yourself the time and hassle of all the calculations and markings needed to get the job done manually.
We will say before we move on with our buying guide that a dovetail jig is not for everyone. Unless you know for sure you’ll need to make dovetail joints on a semi-regular basis, you really might not need a jig.
If, on the other hand, you’re already sold on the idea and feel your workshop would benefit from one of these nifty little tools, what should you look out for on the buying trail?
As with any buying decision, you should take the time first to double down on what, exactly, you want from a dovetail jig. Think about the type of work you plan to carry out since this will help determine which size makes the best fit.
You should also consider starting by fixing your budget. Firstly, this will help you not to overspend. At the same time, you’ll whittle down your options without needing to lift a finger.
We’ll walk you through the basics of buying a dovetail jig the easy way now…
What To Consider When Buying a Dovetail Jig
Weight and Portability
Most dovetail jigs are pretty portable pieces of kit.
That said, if portability is one of your primary motivators, look for a smaller model made from aluminum.
When you’re considering weight, you should also factor the wood router into the equation for an accurate overall view.
The bulk of dovetail jigs are man enough to handle at least 12 inches. Most of the models we look at today fall into that capacity bracket.
Think about the type of work you’ll be doing and shoot for something larger if you think you’ll need that extra capacity. There’s nothing worse than buying any tool then needing to upgrade it because you’ve sold yourself short.
How Does It Hold The Wood?
You need to make sure the jig you’re looking at has at least one clamp to securely keep the wood perfectly flat as you cut.
Unsurprisingly, you’ll get even better results with multiple clamps.
Not every dovetail jig comes with templates provided and not all templates are the same.
Investigate what the model you’re interested in offers and make sure you’ll get the scope to cut the joints you’ll most frequently need.
By moving your router over the top of the template, you’ll be able to remove the wood you don’t want. This will create smooth edges.
Adjustment Features and Stops
Overall accuracy depends to a great extent on the quality of the adjustment features in place.
Side stops allow you to automatically correct the tails along with the pins of the joint. This will almost guarantee a seamless fit.
Type of Joints
Not all dovetail jigs are capable of making all types of dovetail joints.
The more versatile the jig, the pricier it’s likely to be. Rather than shooting for the tool with the widest number of possible joints up for grabs, it makes sense to think first about the kind of project you’ll be undertaking. After all, it’s senseless to spend more than you need for features you’ll never actually use.
Ease of Use
Obviously, you don’t want to buy a labor-saving device and then spend too much time fiddling around.
Fixed dovetail jigs are simplest to set up so shoot for this type if you want something extremely straightforward.
Variable jigs can be a little more time-consuming.
Make sure the fixture mechanism is dependable. If your jig doesn’t hold the workpiece firmly in place, you’re going to experience problems.
You should look at the reliability of the clamping bar and adjustment mechanism. Poor build quality here is inexcusable.
If you’re unable to physically test the jig before purchase, reading plenty of honest user reviews is the best way to get an accurate overall idea of how reliable the jig you’re looking at really is.
Usage and Maintenance Tips
Using a dovetail jig might initially seem like an extremely confusing undertaking.
The good news here is that if you’re in the market for this type of tool, it’s highly likely you’re already comfortable with this type of equipment. After all, beginners are highly unlikely to find the need to make complex and intricate joints.
Maintenance is blissfully low. As with any power tool, make sure you keep your jig clean and ensure that your workshop is dust and debris-free. That aside, your jig should give you years of faithful service with no need at all for tasky upkeep.