Tool basics – cutting dovetails

Give every woodworker the ability to cut dovetails

By Michael Campen


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With their inherent strength and beauty, dovetails have been one of the hallmarks of quality furniture for hundreds of years. The newly updated Leigh D4R Dovetail Jig gives every woodworker the ability to cut this joint.

The unit ships with a DVD, instruction manual, the jig itself, three router bits, a 7/16″ guide bushing and a 1/2″ to 8mm collet reducer. The base of the D4R is a one-piece aluminium extrusion with machined, non-marring clamping surfaces. On the new model, machined side stops replace the adjustable bumpers of the D4 model. A 3/8″ recess has been integrated into the side stops on top, allowing the user to rout dovetails on rabbeted boards.

The basic operation of the jig remains the same. The guide finger assembly allows the user to rout through, half-blind and sliding dovetails up to 24″ wide, as well as end-on-end dovetails, using the cutters supplied. The addition of other dovetail bits expands the jig’s creative possibilities.

The manual clearly lays out all aspects of setting up and using the jig; following the instructions, I was cutting perfectly fitting half-blind dovetails in less than two hours.

The heart of the jig is the adjustable finger assembly. It allows users to select the spacing and arrangement of the dovetails to suit their projects. The orientation of this assembly on the jig base determines which type of joint is cut; changing from one mode to another is quick and easy, with automatic joint alignment. The adjustable fingers make it easy for the user to rout asymmetrical dovetails, as well as make allowances for saw cuts when making boxes that have to be cut open later.

The manual and DVD outline a few ways to control tearout, and after using the jig for a short time, knowing which way to move the router becomes intuitive, keeping tearout to a minimum.

On the negative side, the guide finger assembly is adjusted using 7.16″ diameter knurled brass knobs, one on either end of the jig. They’re easy to over-tighten, and their small size and surface texture can make it difficult to get a grip to loosen them.

At $559, the jig’s price may seem steep at first glance, but when you take into account the quality of this product and the creative possibilities, it’s very reasonable. For more information, visit or call 800-663-8932.

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