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Is there a best dovetail jig? In my humble opinion, I say No. Just like it is impossible to say there is one best automobile, I cannot categorize one dovetail jig as being the best. I recently read an advertisment where Scott Phillips has designated the AKEDA as the hands down best jig available. It's good. Very good. But I do not agree with anyone saying it, or the Leigh, or the [place name here] jig is the absolute best dovetail jig. I have purchased five dovetail jigs over the past 20 years. Peter Collins of Woodcraft kindly provided us with the AKEDA DC-16 free of charge for the purpose of this review. Consequently, I have had the opportunity to use these jigs to produce dovetails for a wide variety of projects. I find that each jig has its strengths and weaknesses.
All of the popular dovetail jigs produce perfect fitting joints. Period. Consequently, base your decision regarding which jig is best or the best jig for you on the features you're looking for and your specific priorities. For instance:
Here is a run down of the dovetail jigs for which I have the most experience:
AKEDA DC 16 and BC 24
One feature of the jig I especially appreciate is how quickly you can produce a drawer using a combination of half-blind dovetail joints (joining the sides to the front) and through dovetail joints (joining the sides to the rear). The jig allows you to share the tail layout for both sets of tail joints, the only difference being the clamp bar position. The two sets of pins use their particular guide fingers, but share the same layout pencil marks. During video taping, I produced a drawer using half-blind and through dovetails in less than 15 minutes, including setup! Check out our AKEDA DC 16 review.
PC Omnijig 5116/7116
The following table is my attempt at rating the features of the jigs. Rating these jigs is a difficult task. For one the PC Omnijig offers significant additional capability through the purchase of optional templates, and the Keller will do just about anything you can imagine with through dovetails, at the price of additional manual effort. Again, all of these jigs perform their stated tasks perfectly well. Click on the ratings highlighted in blue to access additional information regarding the rating.
Don't discount making through dovetail joints by hand or the hybrid method employing both the bandsaw and hand. If you're not doing a ton of through dovetail joints, doing them by hand makes sense. If you're a novice at making through dovetail joints by hand, buy or rent the Dovetail a Drawer video by Frank Klausz. Actually, this video teaches more than just dovetails. I found his general woodworking techniques to be very enlightening.
Here is a run down of dovetail jigs you might consider:
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