Whether working with wooden projects is your profession or you work on them as a hobby, not having adequate tools for a particular task will make it harder for you to carry out that task.
Dovetail cuts can be an excellent example of portraying that. It is a bit challenging to get them by hand. For making them more manageable, you would require a dovetail jig.
While dovetail jigs will make it easier for you to get dovetail cuts in your workpiece, getting one of the best dovetail jigs is not an easy task at all. But, as you have found us, you will not have to worry about that anymore. We are going to introduce you to some of the best ones that are out there and also will provide you a buying guide.
11 Best Dovetail Jigs Review
The overabundance of options in the market will definitely get you bewildered. But we are not going to let that happen to you. For that reason, we went through the most popular ones that are out there and picked only the ones that offer decent overall functionality. They are:
1. PORTER-CABLE Dovetail Jig with Mini Template Kit (4216)
When it comes to jigs, the ones that come with a single-piece are the easiest to set up. Those will not require any assembly. A perfect example of that would be this one that is from PORTER-CABLE. We have reviewed Porter Cable tile saws before. So, this one was an exciting experience.
As we mentioned, the unit comes with a single-piece base that will require no assembly at all. You will be able to set it up in your workbench with clamps or bolts. It is of steel, and it is exceptionally durable as well. You will easily be able to carry out most of the heavy-duty cutting tasks in your workpieces.
Even if you are relatively new to these types of tools, you will not have to worry that much because it comes with instructions. The body has clear guidance on how to handle different kinds of tasks with it. Following the instructions, you will easily be able to cut different types of cuts for boxes, furniture, and drawers.
The aluminum template that the unit comes with will allow you to get precise cuts in your workpiece. There is a router bit gauge that will let you set the depth of the bits without having to measure it.
Other than that, it can accommodate stocks that are from ¼ inches to 1-1/8 inches thick. The cam-type clamps that come with sandpaper-backed bars will let you lock the workpiece securely, which will give you a good grip on the wooden workpiece.
2. Leigh Super 12 in Dovetail Jig
While all the jigs will let you get the dovetail cuts on your wooden workpiece, there are hardly a few that can match up with the versatility with this unit that Leigh is offering.
To begin with, it can accept boards that are up to 12 inches in length. This large capacity is where the unit gets the 12 inches term in the label. Because of this comparatively large capacity, you will be able to work with large-sized wooden workpieces without any issues at all.
The one-piece fingers that the unit comes with is infinitely adjustable. You will be able to position them appropriately for your preferred joint pattern easily. These fingers will make sure that you get a half pin on each of the edges for the joint without factoring the width of the board.
You are not limited to one depth and a single bit with this one. It comes along three different router bits, which can switch between on the go. You will also be able to choose between five of the half-blind bits and modify the depth of your cuts. With this, you will have much flexibility over the cuts that you will make on your project.
The unit can also make two different sized box joints. You will be able to get 5/16 inches and 5/8 inches joints on your wooden piece. Because of the E-bush that it comes along, you will be able to make precise adjustments too.
3. Keller Dovetail System 135-1500 Journeyman
Testing the cuts on a wooden plate before you make an actual on your projects means that you are wasting a wooden plate. Well, that will not happen if you get this one that is from Keller.
Unlike most of the units that are out there, this one comes with a 15 inches template that is precision-milled. With that, you are going to get a substantial amount of accuracy to make cuts on your project. You will not have to waste wood by making a test cut anymore.
The unit is quite versatile as well. It accepts wooden plates that are between 1/8 inches to ¾ inches thick. Alongside that, you will be able to work with wooden workpieces that are of any length and width. That means you will not have to worry about fitting your project that much with this one.
You can also use this to get a plethora of cuts in your wooden workpiece. It can get you classic, acute, variable-spaced, obtuse, curved, compound-angled cuts. You will not have to buy a different tool to get those cuts.
The unit is extremely durable too. You will be able to work with most of the light to medium-duty wooden projects with this without any issues at all. Even though the unit is durable, it is exceptionally lightweight too.
You will be able to carry it with you and quickly set it up at any workbench. The assembly process is quite straightforward also.
4. PORTER-CABLE Dovetail Jig, Deluxe, 12-Inch (4212)
The manufacturer PORTER-CABLE has been around the power tool market for a long time. They are quite famous for having an extensive lineup of reliable tools. This one is no exception.
To start with, it comes with a durably constructed body. It is of sturdy steel, which makes it extremely durable. Because of such construction, you will be able to carry out most of the medium to heavy-duty wooden project tasks on it without any issues at all.
Just like most of their jigs, this one also comes with a single-piece body. That means there is nothing for you to assemble, which means you will not have to worry about getting confused with intricate parts. You will be able to get this set up in your workbench in no time at all.
Talking about installing this on your workbench, you have two options in that regard. You can clamp it down to the bench, or you can bolt the unit to your table. After properly installing it, it will be able to accommodate stocks that are from ¼ inches to 1-1/8 inches thick.
The template that it comes with is of aluminum. This machined template will offer you superior precision and allow you to get accurate cuts on your workpieces. Other than that, the aluminum construction makes it extremely durable as well.
Moreover, the body has instructions printed on the surface that will guide you through to get a perfect cut on your wooden projects.
5. Woodhaven 7660 Large Half-Blind Router Table Dovetail Jig
Stability is one of the key factors in case getting accurate dovetail cuts in your workpiece. And, you will not have to worry about a thing in that regard if you get this one that Woodhaven is offering.
To begin with, it comes with a single-piece construction that will not require any sort of assembly. That means you will be able to set it up in your workbench right after you take it out of the packaging. The installation process is quite straightforward too.
It can accept wooden stocks that are up to 1/2-3/4 inches thick and up to 11-3/4 inches in width. You will be able to cut 90 degrees half-blind dovetail cuts on your workpieces without any hassles at all. The overall footprint of the unit is 6x16 square inches, which makes it ideal for wider stocks and file drawers.
As we have mentioned, the unit can offer an unparalleled amount of stability. You will be able to get full control over the cuts that you are going to make on your workpieces. That means you will not have to waste wood for making test cuts anymore.
It comes included with the proprietary 14 degrees dovetail bit. The bit has a ½ inches cut diameter and 2-3/8 inches overall length. Because of the ¼ inches shank and the 5/8 inches bearing that it comes along, you will be able to adjust it smoothly. It also comes with a height gauge that will let you adjust the overall height.
6. INCRA I-BOX Jig for Box Joints
Learning about the different functionalities of a tool with trial and error can be a bit of a hassle. To mitigate that, INCRA came up with this one that comes with a clear instruction guide.
As we mentioned, you will not have to learn how to use the tool by making practice cuts on woods. Instead, you can just watch the 1-hour instructional video that the unit comes includes. After watching the DVD, you will be fully prepared to take advantage of all the features that it has to bring to the table.
The unit comes in a single-piece construction. It is of sturdy steel, which will make it extremely durable. Because of the single-piece body, you will not have to deal with any assembly or anything of that sort. You will be able to install this in your workpiece in no time at all.
To reduce the overall tear-out on your wooden workpieces, it comes with a reversible MDF sub fence. It is reusable too.
Other than that, it also comes with a proprietary miter bar named as GlideLock, which will let the unit accommodate standard 3/4x3/8 square inches miter slots. It also offers an adjustment range of 0.0740 inches to 0.762 inches.
Alongside that, it also comes with an exclude lead screw that is dual-pitched. Because of that mechanism, you will be able to make micro-adjustments quickly. You will also be able to play with the pin widths and dial it from 1/8 inches to ¾ inches range.
7. Rockler Complete Dovetail Jig
The market might be overfilled with dovetail jigs, but not all of them are as versatile as this one. And it is from none other than Rockler, who are known for offering good looking jigs in the market.
Unlike most of the units that are out there, this one comes with two different phenolic templates. The templates are of durable aluminum and will be able to keep up with most of the heavy-duty cutting tasks. You can expect them to last for an extended amount of time.
Alongside that, this one also comes with three 8 millimeters shanks. These shanks have carbide-tipped router bits. You will be able to work with 1/2x14 dovetail tip, 1/2x8 dovetail bit, or with the 5/16 straight one. These bits make the unit extremely versatile.
It also comes with a collet adapter that you can adjust from ½ millimeters to 8 millimeters. The 7/16 guide bushing that comes with will fit most of the routers. You will get a lot of flexibility with this one.
To let you get accompanied with all the functionalities that it has to offer, it comes with a detailed instruction book. This book all the things that you need to know to work with standard joints.
It also comes with a depth gauge that will let you adjust the bit depth, which will allow you to get precise cuts on your workpiece. Other than that, the quality components that it has will ensure that you get maximum accuracy.
8. General Tools 861 Portable Aluminum Dovetail Jig
Moving around dovetail jigs after installing them on your workbench is quite a tedious work for some unit. But that will not be the case with this one that is from General Tools.
As the label states, the unit is exceptionally portable. You will be able to carry it around and fit it in any working space without any issues at all. The small and compact footprint will make it easier for you to bring it along with you in a backpack.
Apart from being portable, the unit is exceptionally durable as well. The body is of sturdy aluminum, which will be able to accommodate the force that is exerted by heavy-duty cutting tasks. You can expect it to last for an extended amount of time without any showing any signs of bending.
Other than that, it is quite easy to install too. The one-piece construction means you will not have to do any sort of assembly, and the integrated clamps will allow you to set it up in a workbench within a matter of seconds.
It sports a self-aligning design that will ensure that two ends fo the joint match every time. You will not have to worry about the stability that much.
Alongside that, it has control knobs for the table router, which are comfortable to hold onto. They will let you precisely make cuts on your workpiece. Also, it will automatically adjust the dovetail interference depending on the width of the board that you are working with.
9. LEIGH RTJ400 Router Table Joinery Jig
Among all the available jigs, the ones that come with an adjustable side-stop will allow you to work with different boards that are of varying widths. A prime example of one of those would be this one that is from LEIGH.
To begin with, it comes with a template that is CNC machined. CNC machined parts tend to have the most accurate measurements, and this one is no different. Because of this precise template, you will be able to cut joints in your workpieces accurately. You will not have to waste woods on making test cuts as well.
It comes along with an e10 guide bushing that is adjustable. That bushing implements an elliptical moving mechanism. With that, you will be able to adjust the cuts the way you want them to be.
It also comes with cam-action clamps that will provide the unit a substantial amount of strength. They are adjustable, and you will be able to adjust the width according to your workpiece.
Just like we mentioned above, the unit comes with an adjustable side-stop mechanism. With that, you will be able to work on boards that are of any possible width. Along with that, you will be able to utilize the built-in offset for cutting fronts in the case of rabbeted drawers.
It can also make half-blind that are from ½ inches to 1 inch in thickness. Also, it can make box joints that are from 1/8 inches to 1 inch.
10. Leigh Super 18" Dovetail Jig
The manufacturer Leigh has been dominating the dovetail jig market with its reliable, feature-packed offerings. And this one is one of them.
To begin with, it can accept boards that are up to 18 inches in width. Alongside that, it also comes with one-piece fingers that are infinitely adjustable, which is pretty standard in most of the jigs that they offer. Because of this, you will be able to position it the way you prefer and get any pattern of joints that you want.
No matter what width of the board you decide to work with, the fingers will make sure that there is a half pin at all the edge of the joint. That means you will be able to make precise and accurate cuts on your board with this.
It comes with a cross-cut fence that will fit on the dovetail fingers appropriately. This fence will allow you to convert the still template to a sliding one. You are only to bottlenecked with one bit.
This will come with three individual bits that will allow you to carry out most of the cutting tasks at ease. You will also be able to make multiple depth cuts with them.
The finger mechanism that the unit comes with will let you cut two differently sized box joints. You will be able to cut 5/16 inches and 5/8 inches box joints in your wooden project with that. The E-bush that it comes along with will let you make precise adjustments.
11. PORTER-CABLE Dovetail Jig, 12-Inch (4210)
As the unit comes in a single-piece construction, you will not have to worry about assembly as well. You will be able to get in on top of your workbench right after you take it out of the box.
We started our list one of the robust jigs that were from PORTER-CABLE, and we are going to end our list with another one that they are offering. It is one of the easy to set up jigs that you can find in the market right now.
First of all, the unit is full of user-friendly features. It comes with onboard instructions on the body that will provide guidelines on how to use a particular component. You will be able to efficiently make use of the functionalities that it has to offer.
The template that the unit features is of machined aluminum. It has accurate measurements and will allow you to make precise cuts in your wooden workpiece.
Furthermore, the alignment lines will make it easier for you to set it up. Alongside that, the aluminum body will also ensure a longer lifespan. You can expect it to last for an extended amount of time.
It also comes with a router gauge that will allow you to adjust the bit depth. Because of that, you will not have to go through the hassle of measuring the depth each time just to get an accurate cut in your workpiece.
What to Look for Before Buying?
Well, we have introduced you to some of the decent jigs that are available in the market. However, before you decide to invest money in one of the units, you should keep some factors in mind. These will allow you to scrutinize them properly and let you make an efficient decision. They are:
All the units that are out there will have different body sizes and weights. The weight can be under one pound for the ones that are made for light to medium-duty tasks and more than twenty pounds for the ones that are for heavy-duty tasks. So you have to consider whether your workbench will be able to hold the tool or not.
Most of the units will be relatively compact and portable. You will be able to move them around without any issues at all. However, there might be some that will feature a larger overall body. For those, you will have a little trouble in the case of moving them from one workstation to another.
Other than the weight and the size of the units, you should also consider the installation process. For most of the cases, they will come with a single-piece construction, which will make the setup process feel like taking a walk in the park.
Other than that, they will also eliminate the hassle that comes with the assembly process. You will be able to use them right out of the box.
Well, it is pretty challenging to get used to all the components that are on different jugs. But the ones that come along with a clear instruction book or a video DVD will make it easier.
The learning curve will not be that hard for those. That is why we would recommend you to opt for those that come with an easy to follow instructions that will make you acquainted with all the functionalities.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What are the jigs usually made of?
Most of the units will be of aluminum or steel. If you mainly work with hardwood, then you should opt for the ones that are of steel. Other than that, the aluminum ones will be just fine for the rest of the tasks.
- What are the benefits of making dovetail joints for furniture?
One of the advantages that these joints can offer over the other ones is a stable 90-degree angle joint. Other than that, the locking strength that these joints offer is substantially higher than most of the other types of joints.
- What does a lapped dovetail joint mean?
Overlapped dovetail joints are mainly used for drawers. You will be able to see them in the inside of the drawer. The locking parts basically overlap over the other ones, which gives them incredible locking strength.
- Can a newbie make dovetail joints?
With enough knowledge about how to make them and what depth of cuts you should make for the workpieces that you are planning to work on, you will be able to create dovetail joints easily. You will not have to be a professional to make these joints on a wooden plate.
- What type of dovetail joint is the weakest?
The sliding dovetail joint among all the types is the weakest one. It has an inverted T-shaped locking mechanism, which does not that much amount of locking strength. Nevertheless, they are ideal for cabinets and dividers.
- What is a full-blind joint?
The grain of a full-blind joint is hidden on both sides. This type of joint is mostly ideal for putting furniture on display. Usually, you will find them in small cabinets and inside jewelry boxes.
- Would I need glue to joint dovetail joints?
No, glues are not necessary for dovetail joints. The joints should fit snug with one another and will provide enough locking strength.
We hope that we were able to make choosing one of the best dovetail jigs easier for you. With that, we would like to conclude here by wishing you good luck and hoping that you can create strong joints for joining the wood pieces together.