Dovetail joinery can be one mark of excellent craftsmanship, but woodworkers have been joining with ’em for hundreds of years. You can always spice dovetails up a bit by varying the distance between the pins and tails — but if you really want your project to be noticed, you should check out Leigh’s Isoloc joint templates. Isoloc templates allow you to create curved and rounded fingers that are only possible with a router.
Precision machined from an aluminum alloy, Leigh’s Isoloc joint templates work with either their 24″ D4R dovetail jig, which Chuck posted about a while ago, or their smaller 16″ D1600 dovetail jig. The template simply mounts on the dovetail jig in place of the normal dovetail finger assembly. For the best results, Leigh recommends a 5/16″ spiral upcut bit.
Included with each template, Leigh’s VGS (Variable Template Guidebush System) allows you to literally dial in the joint fit. The VGS three piece guide bushing rotates up and down — 1/8 of a turn adjusts the fit by one thousandth of an inch. The VGS mounts in your router base like a normal two piece guide bushing or with an adapter from Leigh.
Leigh makes three different Isoloc templates. You can create two distinctive joints with each template. Template A produces the mirror key and key joint patterns; template B cuts bear’s ears and key joint patterns; and template C cuts wave joint and ellipse patterns. Go to Leigh’s Isoloc joint gallery to see some incredible examples of what you can do with these templates.
After you’ve already spent $360 to $500 on a Leigh dovetail jig — depending on which model you have — you’re going to pay an additional $160 for each D1600 Isoloc template or $200 for each D4R Isoloc template. If you want all the templates you can save a little dough. You can buy all three of the D1600 Isoloc templates for $370 or all of the D4R templates for $490.