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An amazing combination of price, options, and ease of use
PORTER CABLE 4212
LEIGH RTJ400
Use your router table to quickly
and accurately cut dovetails and box joints
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Leigh D4R-PRO dovetail jig
LEIGH D4R-PRO
The standard to measure all
other dovetail jigs by
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Porter Cable’s flagship variable guide finger dovetail jig
PORTER CABLE OMNIJIG
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Simple and versatile 15-inch precision-milled clamp-on template dovetail system
KELLER135-1500 JOURNEYMAN
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Dovetail Jig Reviews and Advice

A clean, snug-fitting row of dovetails is a hallmark of fine craftsmanship. That’s one reason why there are so many different dovetail jigs on the market, each promising to help its buyer turn out rows of beautiful dovetails in record time. We reviewed 6 of the most popular dovetail jigs on the market and were very impressed with a number of them.

Every one of the dovetail jigs reviewed can produce a snug and accurate dovetail joint. The factors that separate them are the diversity of joints they can create, the width of workpieces they can handle, and the setup and adjustment time they require. The best jigs offer a good balance between versatility and learning curve regarding the complexity of their setup and adjustment.

We reviewed five bench-mounted dovetail jigs – the Leigh D4R, Porter-Cable 4212, Porter-Cable 4216, Porter-Cable 4210 and Porter-Cable Omnijig, the market-leading clamp-on jig, the Keller 135-1500 Journeyman, and the Leigh RTJ400 Router Table Joinery Jig which is a departure from the standard bench-mounted dovetail jigs and uses your router table to cut dovetails and box joints.

Best Value Dovetail Jig - Porter Cable 4212

The Porter Cable 4212 Dovetail Jig is the middle of Porter-Cable’s 4200-series of jigs, and we think it’s the best of the range for most users – an amazing combination of price, options, and ease of use.

Dovetail Jig Reviews

Review: Porter Cable 4212 Dovetail Jig

Porter Cable 4212 Dovetail Jig Review

Accuracy8.9
Ease of Use9.1
Value For Money9.3
Features8.7
9 out of 10
What's Hot?
  • Very handy setup lines and instructions etched onto the templates
  • Includes built-in gauges for setting the router-bit height
  • Intuitive with easy switching between templates, joints, and different-size boards
  • Amazing value for money
What's Not?
  • Instruction manual could be better
Bottom Line The Porter Cable 4212 Dovetail Jig is the middle of Porter-Cable’s 4200-series of jigs, and we think it’s the best of the range for most users. It gives you the ability to easily cut all the most common joints, including through dovetails, half-blind dovetails, sliding dovetails and box joints, and add to that an incredibly low price of $159.99, and you can see why it’s the bestselling dovetail jig on the market. It’s easy to set up, with very useful setup lines and instructions etched onto the templates, so you don’t have to keep referring back to the manual. In practice it’s very intuitive to use and switching between templates, joints, and different-size boards is quick and easy. The Porter cable 4212 is an amazing combination of price, options, and ease of use.

Best Overall Dovetail Jig - Leigh D4R-PRO

The Leigh D4R Dovetail Jig is the ultimate variable finger dovetail jig, made by the people who invented variable finger jigs. If you want to take your dovetail skills to the next level, the Leigh D4R-PRO is the jig that will make it happen.

Leigh D4R-PRO dovetail jig
Dovetail Jig Reviews

Review: Leigh D4R-PRO Dovetail Jig

Leigh D4R-PRO Dovetail Jig Review

Accuracy9.9
Ease of Use8.9
Value for Money8.5
Features9.8
9.3 out of 10
What's Hot?
  • Sliding template fingers, which allow beautiful dovetail configurations to be arranged by eye
  • Single template that produces both through and half-blind dovetails with variable spacing, as well as sliding dovetails
  • Very well made precision tool - top quality materials and construction like all Leigh Industries' products
  • Fast and easy setup once mastered with diagrams on the jig itself which act as helpful reminders
What's Not?
  • Complexity of jig means the learning curve is steeper than with other jigs
Bottom Line The Leigh D4R-PRO dovetail jig stands out from the competition when you’re searching for the best and easiest way to make perfect dovetails. The D4R Pro jig is without a doubt the most versatile joinery jig available. After 30 years of Innovation and Excellence, there is only one standard to measure all other jigs by. The Leigh D4R Dovetail Jig is the ultimate variable finger dovetail jig, made by the people who invented variable finger jigs. The infinitely adjustable fingers mean that you can let your creativity run free and design unique variably sized and spaced joints with 100% accuracy.

Best Router Table Dovetail Jig - Leigh RTJ400

A departure from the standard bench-mounted and clamp-on dovetail jigs, the Leigh RTJ400 Router Table Joinery Jig uses your router table to quickly and accurately cut dovetails and box joints.

Leigh RTJ400 Dovetail Jig
Dovetail Jig Reviews

Review: LEIGH RTJ400 Router Table Joinery Jig

LEIGH RTJ400 Router Table Joinery Jig Review

Accuracy9.6
Ease of Use9
Value For Money8.6
Features9.2
9.1 out of 10
What's Hot?
  • Elliptical guide bush for precise adjustment
  • Cuts a wide variety of dovetail and box joints
  • Fast and accurate
  • Well designed with high quality components
What's Not?
  • No dust collection
Bottom Line The LEIGH RTJ400 Router Table Joinery Jig deserves serious consideration if you want an alternative to a traditional bench-mounted dovetail jig. It's easy to set up and makes precise, accurate joinery easy on your router table. It's extremely versatile and you can cut full & half pitch through dovetails, half-blind dovetails and box joints (finger joints) in a number of different sizes on boards up to 16" wide. Even though the jig can cut many different kinds of joinery, each setup is simple to achieve, and it’s straightforward to switch from one setup to another when needed. The LEIGH RTJ400 Router Table Joinery Jig has all the usual attention to detail and build quality that characterize all of Leigh's woodworking products.

Best Clamp-on Dovetail Jig - Keller 135-1500 Journeyman

Quick and easy to set up and use, stock-mounted or clamp-on dovetail jigs have no jig body, and no clamping system. Instead, they clamp directly to your stock to form a row of uniform equally spaced through dovetails.

Keller 135-1500 Journeyman Dovetail Jig
Dovetail Jig Reviews

Review: Keller 135-1500 Journeyman Dovetail Jig

Keller 135-1500 Journeyman Dovetail Jig Review

Accuracy9
Ease of Use9.3
Value For Money8.5
Features8
8.7 out of 10
What's Hot?
  • Since there are no adjustments to make, the setup is quick and easy
  • Does not rely on the use of guide bushes. There's no offset to allow for because the ball-bearing guide on the straight bit is exactly the same diameter as the bit itself, so “What you see is what you get” when you cut the pins.
  • Unlike bench-mounted dovetail jigs, there is no limit to the size of stock that you can use
  • Quality Made in the USA for 35 Years
What's Not?
  • You can only cut through dovetails
Bottom Line The Keller 135-1500 Journeyman Dovetail Jig is a simple and versatile 15-inch precision-milled clamp-on template dovetail system. Unlike bench mounted dovetail jigs, all Keller Dovetail System jigs are mounted on shopmade backer boards, which allows for an extremely versatile setup. All the jigs in the Keller Dovetail System are extremely easy to set up and use, and have the added advantage that there is no limit to the length or width of stock that you can use them with. For boards that are longer than the 15-inch template you simply slide the template along the workpiece. The Keller 135-1500 Journeyman Dovetail Jig retails for $159

Best of the Rest - Top Quality Dovetail Jigs To Consider

Porter cable 4216 with templates
Dovetail Jig Reviews

Review: Porter Cable 4216 Dovetail Jig

Porter Cable 4216 Dovetail Jig Review

Accuracy8.9
Ease of Use9.1
Value For Money9
Features8.6
8.9 out of 10
What's Hot?
  • Porter Cable’s patented adjustment lines and router bit depth gauge which allows you to set bit depths without measuring, making it quick and easy to use
  • Supplied with all the templates for cutting every type of dovetail - Half-Blind/Sliding Dovetail Template (Model 4211), Through Dovetail/Box Joint Template (Model 4213), Miniature Template (Model 4215)
  • Durable, single-piece steel base design requires no assembly and allows for clamping or bolting directly to the work bench
  • On-board instructions provide clear user guidance for the various applications
What's Not?
  • You can't cut variable-spaced joints
Bottom Line The Porter-Cable 4216 Dovetail Jig is the top-of-the-range jig in Porter Cable’s excellent 4200 range of dovetail jigs and comes with all the finger templates for making all the joints. If you cut a lot of dovetails and you know that you will definitely want to cut the whole range of different dovetail joints, the Porter Cable 4216 is the most cost-effective way of buying the jig plus all the templates. The Porter Cable 4216 retails for $174.99
Porter Cable 77240 24-Inch Omnijig Joinery System
Dovetail Jig Reviews

Review: Porter Cable 77240 24-Inch Omnijig Joinery System

Porter Cable 77240 24-Inch Omnijig Review

Accuracy9.4
Ease of Use8.7
Value For Money7.6
Features9.4
8.8 out of 10
What's Hot?
  • Adjustable, split finger design allows user to change both position and width of pins for chosen joint style
  • "Set & Forget" template positioning stops and router bit depth gauges minimize test cuts and provide repeatability across applications
  • Router bit depth gauges allow user to quickly and accurately set the depth without taking measurements
  • Stabilizer bar enhances router control while deflecting chips downward for a cleaner work environment
What's Not?
  • The price is almost $250 higher than the Leigh D4R which is a better jig all round
Bottom Line The Porter Cable 77240 24-Inch Omnijig Joinery System is Porter Cable’s flagship variable guide finger dovetail jig. Like its main rival, the Leigh D4R, the Porter Cable Omnijig gives you maximum versaltility and the ability to cut all types of dovetail joints, and has a number of time-saving features unique to Porter Cable to make it earier than ever, such as their patented router bit depth gauge and template positioning stops. The main advantage of the Omnijig over the other jigs in the Porter Cable range is the variable guide fingers which let you customize your work and produce variably spaced joints, giving more of a hand-cut look. The Porter Cable 77240 24-Inch Omnijig Joinery System retails for $799
Dovetail Jig Reviews

Review: Porter Cable 4210 Dovetail Jig

Porter Cable 4210 Dovetail Jig Review

Accuracy9
Ease of Use9.2
Value For Money9
Features8.2
8.9 out of 10
What's Hot?
  • Very handy setup lines and instructions etched onto the templates
  • Includes built-in gauges for setting the router-bit height
  • Durable, single-piece steel base design requires no assembly and allows for clamping or bolting directly to the work bench
What's Not?
  • You'll need to buy additional templates to cut anything other than half-blind or sliding dovetails
Bottom Line The Porter Cable 4210 dovetail jig kit is the entry-level dovetail jig in Porter Cable’s excellent 4200 range. It shares the same base as the rest of the range and like all the jigs in the range it has Porter Cable’s patented alignment lines and router bit depth stop which make it incredibly easy to use. The 4210 includes an ultra-durable CNC-machined aluminum template for creating half-blind, rabbeted half-blind, and sliding dovetails, and you can add additional templates for different joints later as and when you need them. With everything you need to get started the Porter Cable 4210 really is fantastic value at only $109.99 and is a great way to get into cutting dovetails.

What Makes a Great Dovetail Jig?

There’s no shortage of dovetail jigs on the market, and it’s not always easy to pick out the best one for your needs. To help make your decision a little easier, we’ll take a look at some of the features that can make the difference between a jig that isn’t bad, and one that makes dovetail joinery the trouble-free experience it ought to be.

Reliability

Does the jig keep stock where it needs to be?

If there’s one thing that can wreck an afternoon in the workshop, it’s having to chuck a few expensive pieces of wood into the scrap bin because your jig let them slip in the middle of a cut. Dovetail jig components that hold stock in place during the cut need to be sturdy and reliable.

Clamping bars and mechanisms should be built to consistently apply the right force to every part you cut, and to make sure your stock will stay put to the end of every cut, some jigs, such as the Leigh D4R and the Porter Cable 4212, have non-marring textured clamping surfaces.

Porter Cable 4210 Dovetail Jig

Adjustment features

Does the jig make adjustments easy?

A good dovetail joint is one where the parts fit together in perfect alignment and there’s no “slop” between the pins and tails. One advantage to using a router and jig to cut dovetail joints is that it makes it easy to cut perfect joints every time. But that doesn’t happen until the jig is set up correctly.

Jigs like the Porter Cable Omnijig have single-hand clamping system for easy set-up, as well as “Set & Forget” template-alignment stops to ensure unmatched repeatability and fewer test cuts.

Porter Cable Omnijig

Easy to use

Are the jig’s adjustment features and instructions well-placed and easy to use?

Nothing seems to eat up more shop time than fiddling with difficult or hard to access tool adjustments. The Leigh D4R has built-in scales to provide rapid and accurate fine adjustment for stock thickness and through-dovetail fit, and all the Porter Cable Dovetail Jigs have patented alignment lines and a router bit depth stop tp allow for quick, easy set-up. In addition, on-board instructions provide clear guidance and mean you won’t have to hunt for the instructions when setting up for the most common cuts.

Leigh D4R Dovetail Jig

Ready to use

Does the jig come with everything you need to get started?

The last thing you want to do after you unbox your brand new dovetail jig is to go hunting for equipment that should have been included. A good dovetail jig like the Porter Cable 4212 comes fully assembled and includes two carbide-tipped bits, two template guides, two lock nuts, and a user guide. In addition the Porter Cable Omnijig comes with a storage case and dust collection.

Some dovetail jigs will obviously have more features than others (mainly dependant on price) but the above features should be present in any quality dovetail jig. All of the jigs reviewed here on Dovetail Jigs meet these requirements.

Video: Leigh Dovetail Jigs

Compare the Leigh D4R PRO and Leigh Super Jig

Video: Single Pass Half-blind Dovetails on the Leigh D4R Pro Dovetail Jig

Watch how easy it is to cut single pass half-blind dovetails on the Leigh D4R Pro Dovetail Jig. That’s why it’s our best overall dovetail jig winner.

If that doesn’t make you want one, nothing will!

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