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Almost every drawer you’ll find on quality furniture is assembled using a dovetail joint, and if you’ve ever look at those drawers you’ve probably wondered, “How do they make those?”  It’s actually a lot easier than you’d think: They use a jig which guides a router bit to cut out the interlocking grooves.

The Leigh D4R is one such jig, and a pretty decent one from what we can tell.  It can handle up to 45″ wide stock, and is capable of jigging lots of different joints including finger, Isoloc hybrid, mortise and tenon, and jumbo half-blind dovetails. 

As simple as it might appear to use one of these beasties, trust us: It’s not.  There are quite a few pieces and adjustments, and if you don’t get them right you end up with joints that don’t fit or fit loosely.

As one who can just barely make my dovetail jig work for my own projects, I wouldn’t dare to try and explain it.  So, I did a little poking around on the ‘net and found this demo from woodshopdemos.com with lots of pictures.  Enjoy!

Street pricing for the Leigh starts just South of $500, which is pretty reasonable for a pro-model dovetail jig.  There are cheap ones out there for $250 or less, but in this particular task accuracy and repeatability count.  Be wary.

Leigh doesn’t list their full catalog online, but they do list quite a few accessories and such.  It’s an interesting read, once you’re past the now-ubiquitous Flash intro.  (Our link skips it.  You’re welcome.)

LeighJigs.com [Corporate Site]
Street Pricing [Froogle]

Update: Frank indicates in comments that he uses a much simpler jig that’s cheaper, too.

 

4 Responses to Finds: Leigh D4R Dovetail Jig

  1. Frank Hicinbothem says:

    I bought the Leigh D4R and ended up sending it back. It’s just too darn complicated, and I found I had to dig out the manual every time I wanted to use it. I now have the Porter-Cable 4212. It’s *much* easier to use and less than half the price of the Leigh units. It can handle 6/4 stock up to a foot wide. Somewhat smaller than the Leigh unit, but P-C has a larger model if that’s your thing. Oh, and it only has two pieces, so no danger of losing the bushings, fingers, and sleeves. Available from Amazon for about $150.

  2. Steve Thompson says:

    I have the P-C as well and love it. I have had the opportunity to use a Leigh jig in a friend’s shop and – with proper supervision – and it worked well, but I agree with Frank, The P-C is da bomb! Whatever you do – avoid the cheap ones from Sears, I found repeatability a problem.

  3. Rob says:

    I’ve always wanted a Leigh jig but the price has always driven me back to handcutting. Since I’m not doing that many, it’s not that bad but one of these days, I’m getting one of those.

  4. james b says:

    I upgraded from an old plastic Craftsman jig to one from Harbor Freight. The HF is lots easier to setup. Offset the boards by one board width, center both boards under the fixed pins, and set the router bit height to what it says in the manual, then adjust the height, over and over and over. I used this for making multiple drawers for a dresser and sideboard. For larger materials, like the curved sides of a chest I made, I cut them manually with a bandsaw, jigsaw, chisels, rasps, etc. I would hesitate to use this for a single piece.

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