Months ago I bought a dovetail jig. It was on special offer and I couldn’t resist. I thought I’d finally try to use it…
This did not go well. I’m always very impressed with routers, but there is nothing that will mess up your work faster than a router that goes out of control.
So jigs are good. They restrain the router into following a particular path. This should be safer for everyone.
The jig is a fairly typical dovetail jig,
There are lever operated clamps to secure one horizontal piece of wood and one vertical piece of wood. You align the horizontal piece with one edge of a finger, and the vertical piece with the other edge of the same finger. The router bit has a bearing which neatly fits into the slot between fingers and you simply bounce along router screaming, sawdust flying without a care in the world. Out comes a perfect dovetail joint.
Didn’t quite go like that.
The instructions are less than clear. The english is good, but reading them felt like someone trying to explain how to play golf over the telephone. Diagrams would have helped. Understanding what to adjust and what effect it had on the output would have been really useful.
I think that the main issue is that the supplied cutter bearing doesn’t sit low enough to allow you to cut a correctly fitting dovetail.
You can see from the finished dovetail that it is really rather tight. It did get pounded in with a hammer. To cut with the correct tolerances, I’d have needed to retract the dovetail bit a little more. As you can see from the picture above, I was already flying a bit close to the wind and had almost no contact between the bearing and the jig. I also needed to move the fingers back a little to cut deeper slots for the pins to sit in. That’s why they are sitting proud.
Also, I had the cutter drift down on one of the first cuts – this cut a shiny flat spot on the jig – it’s aluminium, so the cutter kinda survived. It then chewed up the edge of the next finger and jammed in the slot while still running. I didn’t like that at all. I’ll take the burrs off with a file at some point, but not today.
However, I did make a thing. I made a rather tight dovetail joint. Which is what I set out to do.
What did I learn from this…
Well, when the instructions are not clear I should stop and figure stuff out from first principles. None of this is difficult if the time is taken to think it through. Maybe watching a couple of YouTube videos might have been a really good idea. I think the potential is there. I’m going to need to make a lot of boxes for the new Pantry project. With the correct setup this can be run like a production line and I’ll need about 100 joints overall. I’ll just have to dedicate enough time to get the setup perfect.