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Leigh Dovetail Jig

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stuartpaul

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I'm looking to upgrade my dovetail jig. I currently use the axminster one but as it won't do through joints and can be a real pain to set up accurately I want to change.

I've been looking at the Leigh jig but at £300 its a big chunk of my available cash. However, you do tend to get what you pay for so if its worth it then I'm prepared to splash out.

Any views or comments :?:
 

Newbie_Neil

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Hi SP

I believe the Leigh jig is recognised by a lot of top woodworkers as the best dovetail jig that money can buy.

Cheers
Neil
 

Noel

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For serious dovetailing jigs there 3 main choices (IMHO) - Leigh D4, Trend DC400 (relabelled Akeda, a Canadian company started by ex Leigh people people) and the Woodrat variants. And I suppose, on a smaller scale, the Gifkin freehand jig. Which to get? Personally I'd go for the Leigh. I've spent the last year or so researching and have tried and tested the 3 main suspects. To my mind the Leigh seems the best for joint variation, widest capacity and maybe the most important, ease of use especially considering the high level of instruction and tuition provided by the manual and the video.
The Trend is a nice peice of kit and initally seems easier to use, has captive dust collection but less capacity and less joint width variation.
The Woodrat family certainly has it's devotees but I just couldn't get my head around it. As Woodrat users will no doubt say, there is no limits on the type of joint that can be milled. But it wasn't for me.
Here's is a site that illustrates the pros and cons between the Leigh and the Trend (Akeda) jigs
http://benchmark.20m.com/articles/Leigh ... Akeda.html
www.leighjigs.com
http://www.woodshopdemos.com/aked-1.htm
Have also included the Leigh site and a review of the Trend/Akeda jig.
No doubt there are many other +s and -s regarding the various jigs.

Rgds

Noel
 

stuartpaul

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Thanks both but particularly Noely for the links.

Looks like the credit cards going to get a seeing to!!

Next question is know of a cheap supplier?!!
 

Newbie_Neil

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Hi Stuartpaul

I haven't seen them cheaper than

MTS Power Tools

01604 751 688

Leigh D4 with two cutters and scales
299 including next day delivery (UK)

You need to specify 1/4" or 8mm cutters and metric or imperial scales.

I have used mts myself and they were good.

Cheers
Neil
 

Noel

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Yup,

MTS are ok and quick on delivery. There's a bloke there called Dean who seems ok.

Rgds

Noel
 

skjerstad

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I have the D4 and even when I was in test mode doing the small box in
the manual it worked first time.
Buy the 8mm shank as they are a good bit beefier than the 1/4".
You will need a 1/2" - 8mm reducing collar but they are easy to come by.
Also when cutting the tails you can take out alot of the waste with a straight cutter and ease the strain on the dovetail bit.
I have only had the jig a few months and no experience of other jigs but did a fair bit of research on the internet and chose theD4.

Mike
 

Scrit

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Noely

You missed the fourth "option" - learn to dovetail by hand! Not such a task, but it does take practice to develop the "muscle memory" you need. A bandsaw can be used to speed up sawing as well (especially useful for large dovetails). Jigs can NEVER achieve the really fine pins possible by hand simply because the dovetail cutters require a finite shank size. Also, with practice a small one-off drawer can be quicker made by hand. And isn't that what fine woodworking is all about?

On the other hand, if you are making a batch of dovetails, say half a dozen bedding chests then a Leigh makes some sense (providing they aren't taller than 24inches - the Akeda is limited to 16 inches) - the downside is that they can be a time-consuming pain to set-up. They are, however, robust and will withstand semi-industrial use. Pity is that we don't have the Porter-Cable Omnijig to compare it with in the UK. I'd recommend the 8mm shank cutters if you go this route - they are a lot more durable than the 1/4in jobbies.

I've had a look at the Akeda (local Trend stockist - trade day) and they don't seem to be anywhere near as solid, although set-up does SEEM to be a lot quicker (or maybe that was the slick demonstrator).

The Woodrat is an interesting proposition in that (I feel) it is more a sort of guide for hand-routing dovetails and is a great way to do larger dovetails and all sorts of other jobs.

I have both a Woodrat and a Leigh D-4 (both of which I use less and less as time goes by) so I'm a bit divided in my opinion here. I think you need to weigh up exactly how often you are going to dovetail - they are both expensive options to do something which can be done by hand with a little practice and a £15 saw...

If at all possible try out the options in the flesh before you buy.

Scrit
 

Noel

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Scrit

Granted, by hand is certainly satisfying. As you say a decent d/t saw is a minor investment. I'd also suggest the Veritas d/t angle jigs for an additional few quid.

Rgds

Noel
 

Scrit

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I did forget one of the other advantages of the Woodrat - it's ability to rout "ganged" dovetail tails.

Scrit
 
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