Pieces and parts box for Leigh jigs

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Project by EarlS posted 01-19-2019 02:20 PM 1702 views 4 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve owned the Leigh dovetail jig and the Leigh Mortise and Tenon jig for a few years now. There are lots of pieces and parts, as well as extremely helpful, well written user’s manuals that come along with these top quality jigs.

Until now, everything has been unceremoniously dumped in a couple of drawers here and there which makes finding the necessary parts a bit like a scavenger hunt. A storage box for the parts has been on the to do list for quite some time.

Technical Details:
7/8” QSWO box sides and lid, 18-1/2” x 14” x 9”, half blind dovetails, stained with dark walnut
5/8” red elm – box bottom
1/2” maple insert, 4-1/2” tall
1/2” maple tray (~12” x 16”)
walnut base trim and edge banding
1/2” x 5” katalox lid pull
handles are pinned with cherry Miller dowels
Rockler piano hinge with a lid support arm
Mosaic/inlay – 3/8”, mesquite, citrus, lacewood, maple, chakte viga, redheart, bloodwood, katalox, granadillo, wenge, black palm, chestnut, walnut.

Finish – polyurethane, sanded between coats (600 grit), final sanded to 2000 grit and waxed with Behlens Deluxing Compound

What would accommodate all of the bits and pieces? The router base for the M&T jig is a large piece of aluminum with a couple of indexing pins on the bottom side. A tray would provide a flat surface to store it. Holes were needed for the pins and finger holes to remove the tray.

The M&T templates were 4-1/2” tall which meant the insert needed to be that tall so the tray would be flush with the top of the insert. Similarly, storing router bits vertically would eliminate riffling through a cluttered heap of plastic tubes with bits in them to find a bit.

I also wanted a place to keep the user’s manuals where they would be readily accessible without getting in the way.

I made a crude mock up:

After discussing the ideas with fellow LJ’s (Spring Swap forum folks) and tweaking things a bit the final layout came together.

The box sides and lid sides were not made from a single piece. After making the 1/2 blind dovetails for the sides I changed my mind about the lid and decided to make a dome type lid rather than a basic flat lid. That made matching the dovetails a bit tricky as well as getting the lid and sides to line up cleanly.

Rather than just using a square piece of wood as a handle, I routered a rounded indentation in the side of the box and also made a hidden recess in the handle for a better hold and also to keep the handles from protruding further from the sides.

The box glue-up:

After building the box and lid, all that was left was the inlaid lid. A Google search of “Craftsman stained glass” provided plenty of ideas.

Here’s an overview of the bench while making the inlay:

Almost done with glue-up:

After everything was glued together, the inlay was run through the planer. I was terrified that the planer blades would destroy the piece due to all of the different grain orientations, small pieces, and different wood densities. With the DW-735 setting on “finishing” (2x cpi) everything went well. There was some very minor shredding on the walnut around the edges since the grain was parallel to the blades.

After planing, the top was glued to a 1/8” piece of plywood. A 1/2 rabbet was cut into the lid side pieces for the top. Another slot (1/8”) was made for the plywood that would make the pocket to store the manuals. All told, the lid is 1-7/8” tall, with a 1/2” pocket for the manuals. It’s a bit too tight for both manuals.

Idea for Improvements:
After putting a few of the spiral bits in the foam (and cutting my finger) I decided to leave them in the plastic tubes. Rather than the foam insert, I will make a wood insert with holes large enough to accommodate the plastic tubes. Round ones for the spiral bits protectors and square ones for the dovetail bit boxes.

I still need to come up with a good design for multi-purpose storage boxes for the main jigs.


I replaced the foam inserts with wood inserts so the bits can be left in their protective plastic sleeves and I won’t cut my fingers more.

3/4” forstener bit for the straight bits, and 3/4” openings with 3/8” spacers for the dovetail bit sleeves

This thing weighs a ton. Maybe I should have used 3/4” rather than 7/8”. At least it’s solid.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

23 comments so far

View oldrivers's profile


2472 posts in 2583 days

#1 posted 01-19-2019 02:44 PM

Beautiful work. Congratulations on a job so well done.

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View johnstoneb's profile


3167 posts in 3189 days

#2 posted 01-19-2019 02:59 PM

Nice box, I really like the top.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View splintergroup's profile


4727 posts in 2239 days

#3 posted 01-19-2019 03:03 PM

Not to dismiss the utility of the box, I’m fascinated by how great that inlay looks!
You are the king of overkill, all hail the King 8^)

View KelleyCrafts's profile


4414 posts in 1756 days

#4 posted 01-19-2019 03:26 PM

Excellent. All of my MT plastic guides are in a cigar box, manuals are separate, router bits are separate, and the router top thing has fallen on the floor a couple times. I really need to do this badly.

-- Dave - - pen blanks - knife scales - turning tools

View socrbent's profile


1039 posts in 3286 days

#5 posted 01-19-2019 04:01 PM

Beautiful, inspiring, and useful – great job!

-- socrbent Ohio

View HokieKen's profile


16750 posts in 2155 days

#6 posted 01-19-2019 04:05 PM

You make me feel like such a hack. I hate you. XOXO ;-)

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View WhattheChuck's profile


451 posts in 4577 days

#7 posted 01-19-2019 04:48 PM

Awesome, Earl. Ridiculous, of course. :-) Did you use the Leigh jig to cut the HB dovetails? If so—super-nice job! They are perfect.

When you’re about to die, please send me a text so I can come to the auction!

-- Chuck, Pullman, WA

View Ivan's profile


16636 posts in 3884 days

#8 posted 01-19-2019 04:55 PM

The box…and especialy the top, looks awesome.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View GR8HUNTER's profile


8311 posts in 1729 days

#9 posted 01-19-2019 05:01 PM

wood selections on this fine jig box are top notch i love it GREAT JOB :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN :<))

View EarlS's profile


4315 posts in 3365 days

#10 posted 01-19-2019 05:21 PM

Thanks for all of the kind comments. Making inlays like this is something I enjoy. There are so many amazing Craftsman style stained glass pictures that I will never run out of ideas.

I’d like to get good enough that I can make Harvey Ellis type designs.

Dave – thanks for the input on the design and the mesquite and citrus.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View recycle1943's profile


5071 posts in 2639 days

#11 posted 01-19-2019 05:40 PM

love the box but the top is just outstanding

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View James E McIntyre's profile

James E McIntyre

1108 posts in 2309 days

#12 posted 01-19-2019 10:50 PM

Wonderful storage box. Thanks for showing you build technique.
The inlay is a real eye catcher as is you excellent half blind dovetails.
Hope to use your inlay idea for an arts and crafts chest or bench.
Thanks for sharing.

-- James E McIntyre

View builtinbkyn's profile


3027 posts in 1957 days

#13 posted 01-19-2019 10:59 PM

Beautiful box Earl. I’d say it’s way too good for the intended use, but then why shouldn’t it be? ;) Big thumbs up!

-- Bill, Yo! Brooklyn & Steel City :)

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

6908 posts in 1599 days

#14 posted 01-19-2019 11:06 PM

Over the top, Earl. Ridiculous and absurd, yet practical and sensible.

Nice work!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View TungOil's profile


1383 posts in 1512 days

#15 posted 01-20-2019 04:45 AM

Wow, nice work Earl!

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

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