When Reading the Manual Doesn't Help

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Review by MikeFromCanmore posted 11-18-2018 06:36 PM 2927 views 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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i decided it was time to try my hand at making dovetail joints, so I purchased the Craftex CT052N 12” Dovetail Jig. I had some 5/8ths boards so I thought a 1/2” dovetail jig would be appropriate. I have a Bosch router, a 1/2” 14 degree dovetail bit and a template that could be made to work with this jig.

There are several measurements and adjustments that need to be made before starting to cut the dovetails. I carefully followed the instructions in the manual that came with the jig, and made my first dovetails. They didn’t fit. Not even close. The pin widths were correct – 9/16ths of an inch, but the depth was wrong – too deep. And the tails were way to wide at 5/8ths of an inch.

After re-reading the manual, I discovered a contradiction. In one place the manual requires that the dovetail bit protrudes 23/32nds of an inch below the router plate. In a different part of the same manual it requires only 19/32nds of an inch. I had used 23/32nds, which went some way towards explaining why my joint didn’t fit.

So, i reset the router bit depth and tried again. Still no luck. The tails were now only 0.6 inches wide instead of 5/8ths, and the pin depth matched the diagram in the manual (11/32nds of an inch), but the joint still didn’t fit.

Next, i recalled some high school math and worked out for myself how far the dovetail bit should protrude from the router plate. Not 23/32nds. Not 19/32nds. The right answer is 16/32nds, or 1/2 inch. This makes the pin depth not 11/32nds, but 8/32nds.

I set up the router for these measurements and got an acceptable joint. A slight tap with a mallet and it fits!

I have no complaint about the dovetail jig itself – it appears to work as expected. But the documentation is very poor. There were at least 3 errors, any of which would make it impossible to create a workable dovetail joint.

-- If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers.

View MikeFromCanmore's profile


29 posts in 1780 days

6 comments so far

View NormG's profile


6508 posts in 3980 days

#1 posted 11-18-2018 10:59 PM

Ugh, thank you for the posting

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View runswithscissors's profile


3128 posts in 3001 days

#2 posted 11-19-2018 01:37 AM

I wonder if the 7 deg. bit would work with the original instructions?

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View pintodeluxe's profile


6298 posts in 3789 days

#3 posted 11-19-2018 06:05 PM

Usually dovetail jigs have a specific bit that they are intended to work with. Correct me if I’m wrong, but from your writeup it sounds like you were using your own dovetail bit. I do that all the time, but you have to re-figure the geometry of the joint. Trial and error will tell you a lot, and bit depth is the main adjustment with half blind dovetails.

If the manual contradicted itself, it sounds like it wasn’t the best tool manual out there. The very best tool manuals I have seen are from Akeda and Sawstop.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Tennessee's profile


2936 posts in 3491 days

#4 posted 11-20-2018 01:58 PM

That unit looks exactly like the blue painted model I bought from Harbor Freight back in 2000. The manual on that was full of mistakes also. I ended up doing what you did, math by myself. It works, but awkward.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View AHuxley's profile


874 posts in 4298 days

#5 posted 11-20-2018 09:38 PM

The very best tool manuals I have seen are from Akeda and Sawstop.

Sad that you can’t get the Akeda jigs anymore. The Leigh manuals are the equal of the Akeda.

This is the kind of review that could be very helpful to someone past just deciding whether to buy one or not!

View playingwithmywood's profile


444 posts in 2573 days

#6 posted 11-21-2018 01:32 AM

not sure if it will help but some other company was selling what looks like what you have that looks like the harbor freight also and many others selling the similar thing in different colors

here is the manual to the one sold my WoodStock and their manual so maybe this link will help otherwise someone other company had a good manual for the generic dovetail machine and might be other good posts here one the same type jig

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