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Dovetail jig tips

With just a few hours in the shop last weekend, I got a lot done. I needed to dial in the router bit depth before routing dovetails on the drawers for my shop cabinet. The jig’s template and stops were already positioned, so I loaded a couple of test pieces into the jig, and set the bit for what looked like a reasonable guess at the proper depth. You can probably imagine what the test joint looked like.

Well, you’d be wrong! It went together beautifully! I couldn’t believe it. Taking this as a good sign, I started routing drawer joints. I rout dovetails so infrequently I took note of some tips that I plan to file away with my jig for reference next time I get it out. Here they are:
➢     Lay out your drawer pieces and label the inside bottom edges. Use BL for Back Left, BR for Back Right, FR for Front Right, and FL for Front Left.

Labeled drawer parts

Labeled drawer parts

Then label your jig to help ensure you rout the proper corner on the correct side of the jig.

Labeled dovetail jig

Labeled dovetail jig

The BL and FR corners are done on the left side of the jig. The BR and FL corners are done on the right side of the jig.
➢     Before routing, double-check that the pieces are secure in the jig; that they are tight against the stops; that they are tight against each other under the template; that the template rests snug against the top piece; and that the template is secured.
➢    Rout the right-most slot first and do it very slowly to reduce chip-out.
➢    Then make a shallow pass from right to left to score the drawer side. This prevents chip-out, too.
➢    Rout the joint as usual following the template from left to right, then make a return pass following the template from right to left. This ensures the bushing pressed firmly against the template at all points.
➢    Before removing the pieces from the jig, check that all sockets and tails are cut fully and cleanly.
➢    When testing the fit, lay the drawer side (tail piece) inside-face-up on the bench and push the drawer front or back (socket piece) onto it. You won’t break off or chip a tail this way.

Assembling dovetails

Assembling dovetails

Hope you find these tips useful.

Craig

One Response to “Dovetail jig tips”

  1. [...] For more helpful hints by Craig Reugsegger, visit WoodMagazine.com. [...]




 
 
 
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