5 Best Dovetail Jigs – Definitive Guides For 2018

If you’re into woodworking, then you know that dovetail joints are some of the most widely revered in the industry. Being able to connect two pieces of wood together like a jigsaw puzzle means that you get incredible durability and resilience without having to rely on metal fasteners or drills to get the job done.

However, dovetail joints can be a hassle if you try to do it by hand, which is why having the best dovetail jig is going to make your life a lot easier. Whether you’re a hobbyist or a woodworking professional, the right jig will help you make these joints much more efficiently, thereby allowing to work faster and produce consistent results.

5 Best Dovetail Jigs – Comparisons

Picture Product Name Product Size Item Weight Price
PORTER-CABLE 4216 Super Jig - Dovetail jig (4215 With Mini Template Kit) PORTER-CABLE 4216 12″ 26.9 pounds Check Latest Price
Leigh Super 12" Dovetail Jig Leigh Super 12″ Dovetail Jig 12″ 14.15 pounds Check Latest Price
Keller Dovetail System 135-1500 Journeyman DoveTail Jig Keller Dovetail System 135-1500 15″ 1.65 pounds Check Latest Price
General Tools 861 Portable Aluminum Dovetail Jig, 12-inch, Woodworking, Furniture Building & Cabinet Making With Router Bit General Tools 861 Pro Dovetailer 2 12″ 2.94 pounds Check Latest Price
Rockler Complete Dovetail Jig Rockler Complete Dovetail Jig 24 pounds Check Latest Price

 

Today we’re going to look at some of the top models available and see how they can help you make these joints. Let’s see what they have to offer.

Best Dovetail Jigs – Reviews

1. PORTER-CABLE 4216 Super Jig – Dovetail Jig

Because dovetail jigs are specialized pieces of equipment, you want to make sure that you’re getting a model that fits your needs exactly. If you only cut these types of joints on rare occasions, then you shouldn’t have to buy anything too intense. However, for woodworkers who need more precision and reliability, this model from Porter-Cable is an excellent choice.

This is a bench-mounted jig, which means that you can clamp it to any surface for stability while cutting. The size and weight of this model also help you keep a straight edge, so it’s much more rugged than most other dovetail jigs you may find.

What sets this model apart from the rest is that it comes with three templates. Since there are a wide array of dovetail joints that work for different wood pieces, these templates allow you to customize your approach depending on your needs. Best of all, they can all be swapped out quickly and easily, further adding efficiency to your next project.

Another reason we like this model is that you can cut many different wood pieces for your joints. In most cases, these jigs will only work on wood that’s less than an inch thick. However, because this is a super jig, you can attach pieces that are up to 1 ⅛ inch, making it even more versatile. On the thinner side, it can cut as thin as ¼ inches so that you can do any project, no matter how big or small it is.

Overall, this jig is heavy duty and is built to last. Porter-Cable is a well-known brand that makes a lot of quality parts and tools, and this jig will help you cut precise joints time after time. When you need something that is reliable and consistent, nothing really compares to this unit. Also, the fact that it works with any router means that you don’t have to worry about buying new equipment just to get the job done.

Pros

  • Three templates included
  • Bench-mounted jig for stability
  • Quick and easy set up of templates
  • Router bit depth gauges included
  • Durable machined aluminum construction
  • Heavy-duty cam-style clamps
  • Works on pieces between ¼-1 ⅛ inches
  • Works with any router
  • Creates a wide range of cuts and joints

Cons

  • Maybe complicated to set up for beginners
  • In rare cases, the unit may shift slightly, resulting in less consistent joints

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2. Leigh Super 12″ Dovetail Jig

One thing about dovetail jigs (and jigs in general) is that they are designed for a particular cut. In most cases, you can either do square or rounded edges, which allow you to make a variety of joints that will ensure your next project comes together well.

However, what makes this model so unique is that it’s fully adjustable. All of the fingers included in the jig can be moved closer or further apart, meaning that you can create all kinds of joints without having to swap out different templates.

The adjustability of this jig is incredible, as you can get as precise as possible without sacrificing quality. Also, the durability of the clamps and the fingers themselves mean that you can get consistent cuts without having to readjust anything between pieces. This is another bench-top model, so stability while cutting is a natural side effect.

Another thing we like about this jig is that you can get it in different widths. Thus, you can customize your cutting experience so that you’re always ready for the next piece, no matter how wide or long it is. Although you can’t combine this jig back to back, the different sizes give you more of a choice over which model will work best in your workshop.

Overall, this is a reliable and customizable jig, but you have to have some experience in setting dovetail joints to get the most use out of it. We don’t recommend this model for beginner’s because you may have trouble getting all of the fingers set properly. However, if you know what you’re doing, there’s almost nothing you can’t do with this jig.

Pros

  • Bench-mounted jig for stability
  • Adjustable fingers for versatility
  • Rugged aluminum and steel construction
  • Multiple widths available
  • Lightweight and compact model

Cons

  • Pricier than other jigs
  • Does not come with accessories or carrying case

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3. Keller Dovetail System 135-1500 Dovetail Jig

When picking out the right dovetail jig, you can either get a bench-mounted or a stock-mounted model. The difference between the two is that the latter requires a piece of wood stock to work, meaning that there is some assembly required. Unlike a bench-mounted jig that clamps to the table or workbench directly, you have to attach this jig to a piece of wood first so that you can work.

The benefit of stock-mounted jigs is that they are lightweight and easy to store, and they’re also cheaper because there aren’t as many components included. Thus, if you’re a hobbyist and you don’t do a lot of dovetail joints, this may be a better option for you.

To get more use out of this unit, it has two sides so that you can cut rounded or square edges. Another thing that makes this even more versatile is the fact that you can combine multiple jigs together to increase your length. Although this model is 15 inches already, you can put two of them together and double or triple your size if necessary. Also, because it’s designed that way, you don’t have to worry about getting the size of your joint wrong at the seams.

Because this is a single piece, there aren’t many features to discuss about it. Once you mount it to a bit of stock, you should be able to use it over and over again without any problems. Also, the double-sided aspect of the jig means that you can simply rotate it to create different joints. However, since there are only two sides, you can’t cut as many dovetail joints as you would with other jigs.

Pros

  • Stock-mounted dovetail jig
  • Simple and cost-effective model
  • 15-inch precision template
  • Works on wood between ⅛-¾ inches
  • Can be paired with other jigs for longer widths
  • Fast and easy installation
  • Compact and lightweight model for storage
  • Designed to cut multiple joints
  • Comes with router bit for convenience

Cons

  • The router bit is not as high quality
  • Not as versatile as other dovetail jigs

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4. General Tools 861 Pro Dovetailer 2 Dovetail Jig

For the most part, dovetail jigs only come with a single side. While this allows you to cut quickly and efficiently, it can sometimes be a hassle to make sure that you’re cutting everything correctly so that it fits together. In that case, you may want something like this jig from General Tools.

Although this jig is made of machined aluminum, it’s not built with heavy-duty materials, so keep that in mind. If you put too much pressure on it with the clamps, it can sometimes create a gap between the jig and the wood, so make sure to double check your position before you start cutting. Nonetheless, if you’re making dovetail joints out of softer woods, this shouldn’t be a problem.

What’s really nice about the layout of this jig is that it’s self-aligning. Thus, you don’t have to worry about getting the cuts wrong or making a mistake while you’re working. As long as you follow the outline with your router, you shouldn’t have any problems making a high-quality dovetail jig. Also, there are multiple cutting options on this piece, so you can create different joints as needed.

Another benefit of the size and material of this jig is that it’s much more lightweight and compact than some other benchtop models. Thus, bringing it to various job sites and storing it when not in use is a breeze. Overall, if you’re looking for something simple, practical, and convenient, this is an excellent jig.

Pros

  • Dual-edge design for efficiency
  • Durable brushed aluminum construction
  • Self-aligning system for precision
  • Heavy-duty clamps for stability
  • Lightweight and easy to use
  • Works with most routers
  • Creates a wide range of dovetail joints
  • Includes router bit for convenience

Cons

  • In rare cases, the two sides may not line up perfectly
  • Some joints may not be ideal for this jig

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5. Rockler Complete Dovetail Jig

Our final dovetail jig is another customizable option, much like the Porter-Cable at the top of the list. However, this model is lighter and doesn’t come with as many templates, making it ideal for hobbyists or woodworkers who only have to create specific joints. If you want the most versatility for your buck, then this jig won’t provide as much customization as some of the others we’ve seen already.

One thing that we like about this type of jig is that it makes it easy to hold your wood in place. Because you can clamp the wood into the system directly, you don’t need extra clamps or vices to keep it all together. The width selection is between ½ and ¾ inches, meaning that it will work for most pieces, although the range is not as wide as other units.

Another feature we appreciate about this model is that it comes with three router bits. Thus, as long as you have a compatible router in your workshop, you should be ready to go as soon as this jig is out of the box. Simply clamp it to the table or workbench and adjust the depth accordingly.

Swapping out the templates is easy, and they are both double-sided, giving you even more versatility when making your joints. The templates are also heavy-duty, which means that they will hold up after numerous cuts, and they should be able to create consistent cuts every time, allowing you to work more efficiently.

Overall, if you want a jig that’s simple to use and is self-contained, this model is a good choice. We also appreciate that it has a measuring guide on the jig itself so that you can make sure you’re making the right adjustments for each piece.

Pros

  • Two jig templates provided
  • Bench-top model for stability
  • Side clamp for holding your wood in place
  • Three router bits included
  • Depth measurement dial
  • Works on wood between ½ and ¾ inches
  • Durable aluminum and steel construction

Cons

  • May not be compatible with some routers
  • Some components are not as durable as others

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Final Verdict

Overall, if you want a sturdy, reliable, and versatile dovetail jig, then nothing compares to the Super Jig from Porter-Cable. Not only is the brand high-quality, but the jig itself is more rugged and dependable than most others on this list. Also, because you get three templates, you can make a broader range of joints without having to buy anything else.

However, if you want the same versatility without having to swap templates out, the adjustable Leigh Super Dovetail Jig is the better option. While you do have to have enough experience working with wood to make the right adjustments, it’s well worth it for having more efficiency and more joint options available.

Sean J. Stone
 

Sean has been a woodworking enthusiast for 8 years, and in that time has written huge resources on woodworking and tools.

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