If you’re looking for a dovetail jig, you are definitely upping your woodworking game. Which one is right for you? Check out our picks of the 5 best dovetail jigs for the money.
In woodwork, joining two pieces of wood by dovetail makes it a strong joint. To do this, you would need a dovetail jig. This tool cuts the wood with a router to join wood at right angles.
Dovetail jigs come in many different forms. It cuts small, medium or large dovetails on one piece of wood and pins on the other. This is one way for carpenters to be creative in their woodwork. Dovetails not only create a strong bond but it also serves as design.
Before routers and dovetail jigs were a thing, dovetails had to be made using handsaws and chisels. Thankfully, we have now easier ways to do this. Check out some of the best dovetail jigs you can use for your handiwork.
1. PORTER-CABLE 4216 Super Jig – Dovetail jig (4215 With Mini Template Kit)
The Porter-Cable 4216 is useful for woodworking, cabinet, and furniture making. Cutting joinery for drawers, boxes, and furniture will be easy with this dovetail jig. This will cost you less than $180, and it includes three templates you can use.
The template 4211 lets you cut sliding dovetails, half-blind, and rabbeted half-blinds. The 4213 template lets you cut through dovetails and box joints. For miniature half-blinds, miniature through, and miniature box joints, the 4215 template comes in handy.
This 12-inch dovetail jig can be used for stocks that are ¼ to 1-1/8 inches thick. The cam-type clamps sandpaper-backed locking bars of this jig firmly grip the wood. If you need assistance, there are onboard instructions. It will tell you where you can use the jig and the machined aluminum templates allow for accurate cutting and durability.
- Includes three templates for a wide variety of uses
- Durable steel base
- Includes an instruction manual
- Simple to use even for newbies
- Initial setup can be confusing if the manual is not read
- Adjustments could easily result in dovetail inconsistency
Porter-Cable’s three-year limited warranty backs this product. This warranty covers defective products caused by faulty materials or poor workmanship. The company will also maintain the tool and replace worn parts for free with their one-year free service.
2. PORTER-CABLE 4212 12-Inch Deluxe Dovetail Jig with 9-Piece Template Guide Kit
Another one from Porter-Cable, the 4212 Deluxe Dovetail Jig is what you will need for any piece of woodwork you might need it for. This is a 9-piece template guide kit. It includes template 4211 for sliding dovetails, half-blinds, and rabbeted half-blinds. Template 4213 is for through dovetails and box joints.
Other guides include 42024, 42033, 42036, and 42015 for general routing applications. For hinge butt routing, template 42042 is included too. You can have this all for less than $200.
This unit is very easy to use. It does not require assembly because of the single-piece steel base. Bolting or clamping directly to the workbench is also allowed. You can easily set the depth without having to take measurements because of the router bit depth gauge.
- No-assembly steel base
- Includes the needed accessories
- Has onboard instructions
- Backed by a warranty
- The router is sold separately
- Can be difficult to set up
Though with minor flaws, this dovetail jig gives good value for your money. With a proper reading of the manual, you will be able to set it up in no time.
3. Woodhaven 7660 Large Half-Blind Router Table Dovetail Jig w/Bit
This is a USA-made dovetail jig. This jig gives you stability and control unmatched by other conventional jigs. This is a well-made guaranteed tool that will only cost you a little over $200. This is worth spending your money on.
Ease your worries because using the router table jig lessens the likelihood of ruining the template or your work. This accommodates stocks ½ to ¾ in. thick and up to 11-3/4 in. wide. It can cut 90-degrees half-blind dovetails on these materials.
The large clamp knobs firmly hold the wood in place for accurate work. Even the thickest wood it can accommodate can be quickly adjusted with the sliding clamp pads.
- Highly adjustable
- Can be used in a wide variety of applications
- Easily usable by newbies
- A firm hold of stock for accuracy
- Does not include templates
If you are looking for a dovetail jig that gives great value for your money, this unit is for you. It is highly adjustable to give you more control and provides more accuracy.
4. Leigh Super 12″ Dovetail Jig
This super jig from Leigh is one to look out for. It can be used for many different applications with accuracy and at a reasonable price. This dovetail jig will cost you around $275. It accepts boards up to 12 in. and woodworkers will be satisfied with its performance.
This unit has adjustable one-piece fingers so you can position it to any joint pattern you want. Spaced through and half-blind dovetails will not be the only types you can do. There are easy to read scales to guide you through easy finger assembly. When you install the crosscut fence, you will turn it into a sliding dovetail template.
You can make 5/16 in. and 5/8 in. box joints with the finger assembly too. This is thanks to the new Leigh e-Bush. It makes adjustments easy and precise even for customized projects. Twisting the e-Bush guided by markings will indicate how to adjust to fit the finger joints and dovetails.
- Revolutionary e-bush allows for numerous precise adjustments
- Highly customizable
- Can do a wide range of dovetail applications
- Includes an instruction manual and DVD
- The router uses 80 mm shaft size instead of the standard ¼ in. or ½ in.
- An additional purchase of bits for different dovetail depths
If you like versatility in your tools, this unit is for you. You can customize this according to your preferences, and there is a great number to choose from.
5. Leigh Super 18″ Dovetail Jig
For less than $400, you can own this dovetail jig that you can use for commercial woodwork. This may be in the higher price range, but it does give good value for your money. If you are working mostly on bigger boards, then this is a good choice.
This accepts up to 18 in. of boards. It features fully adjustable dovetail spacing and tail width this allows you to make any dovetail spacing you want. However, all pins must be the same width due to the one-piece finger assembly. You can also use additional templates like the finger joint template and the isoloc template.
- Can accept board up to 18 inches
- Includes three router bits
- Highly adjustable one finger assembly
- Expensive at around $400
- Screws have to be mounted at a slight angle
This unit is recommended for those who are working with wider stock. If you work mostly with bigger sized projects, a dovetail jig that can accommodate wider stock is the one for you.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Dovetail Jig
Making dovetail jigs is no easy task. It needs the right amount of expertise to make accurate and beautiful dovetail joints. Not only are they very strong but they also add to the overall look of your projects. Before you go out and buy a dovetail jig, here are some points you need to consider.
The Kind of Dovetails You Will Make
With a dovetail jigs, you can make any dovetail you want depending on its features. Most dovetail jigs are highly adjustable, and some come with templates. Whether you want through, half-blind, sliding, or variably spaced there are many to choose from. Choose the unit that gives you exactly what you like or one that has higher adjustability.
How often You Will Use It
If you plan on using it extensively, then it will give you plenty of time to learn and use the functions of the dovetail jig. You can invest in a more expensive unit because you will need something that is highly durable to last you a long time.
Ease of Setup
Some units are easy enough to use, while some can be too complicated. When you do not understand how a dovetail jig works, you will probably just damage the machine and ruin your work. Read the instruction manual or watch tutorial videos if they are available.
How much are you willing to pay for a dovetail jig? There are plenty to choose from, and there are price ranges for every budget. However, it is not always the most expensive that will be most beneficial to you. Sometimes the cheaper and simpler units give you better value for your money than complicated ones that you do not even understand how to operate.
Woodworkers no longer have to make dovetail joints by hand. This task is made easier by using a router and a dovetail jig. You do not even have to be experts to use these. Newbies can quickly learn how to use these because of the many ways you can learn how.
There are many dovetail jigs out on the market. All have their own advantages and disadvantages. On this list, are some of the best out there that have satisfied many customers. Choose the best one for your needs and enjoy the strength and beauty of your work.