PC Mini Dovetail Template #4215 - Nice Idea, Poor Design, Not as Advertised

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Review by JustJoe posted 11-21-2012 10:09 PM 11141 views 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
PC Mini Dovetail Template #4215 - Nice Idea, Poor Design, Not as Advertised PC Mini Dovetail Template #4215 - Nice Idea, Poor Design, Not as Advertised PC Mini Dovetail Template #4215 - Nice Idea, Poor Design, Not as Advertised Click the pictures to enlarge them

I needed to make some small half-blind dovetailed drawers with 1/2” fronts and 1/4” sides and my Leigh jig wasn’t up to the task so I looked around and ordered the Porter Cable 4216. Most of you are familiar with the 4200 series PC jigs so I won’t discuss the jig itself, just the miniature template (#4215) – I just ordered the 4216 kit because I had to have the jig itself before I could use the mini dovetail template.

My first discovery upon opening the box and reading the instructions is that although it does do miniature dovetails – it doesn’t do them down to the advertised specs. Every website I search said that this jig would do miniature through and half-blind dovetails in wood 1/4 to 1-1/8” thick. That is not quite true. According to the manual it does through dovetails in stock down to 1/4” thick, but half-blind only down to 1/2”. Since I like my drawers to have sides thinner than fronts, that was a bit of a problem for me. But I decided since it was already here in the house I’d give it a try and maybe I could find a workaround.

Assembly was fairly quick and easy but setup soon showed a couple of more problems – The built-in biit depth-gauge was a little screw on the left with enough spring in it as to be worthless. Initial depth was supposed to be 3/8” so I ended up using a ruler and just setting it by hand to 3/8” + the 1/4” for the thickness of the template. The second issue I had was with the alignment – the jig itself looks like rough painted pot metal but is surprisingly slick – the top piece had to be overtightened to keep the wood from moving, and the left-alignment bracket was hard to position square to the wood.

But the final straw was the actual resulting dovetail. I started with 1/2” front and sides, made a test, adjusted the bit, made another test, adjusted the bit, made another test and so on until about 20 board feet later I had the closest I could get to a correct joint. To tighten the joint you heighten the bit. Starting with a 3/8” depth on a 1/2” piece of wood only leaves 1/8” to play with. But by the time I got done dropping the bit down far enough to get a semi-tight joint that 1/8” was down to under 1/16”. Just for grins I tried with 1/2” front and 3/8” sides – I just managed to get something that resembled a dovetail joint, but the sliver of remaining wood was about .000000000000000001” thick. So while the manual says 1/2” is the minimum, I suspect that 9/16 or 5/8” is probably closer to the truth – certainly not the 1/4” advertised.

The 4216 came with other templates for doing larger joints, but my Leigh handles those quite nicely so I doubt I’ll be getting much use out of the PC. I’m also now in the market for a miniature dovetail jig that is capable of handling 1/2” fronts with 1/4” or 3/8” sides so if you know of one out there that is available please let me know.

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#1 posted 11-22-2012 01:51 AM

I can share your frustrations with the PC dovetail jig(s). I had a 4212 that I “fiddled” with three times and was never satisfied with the results(these were like an hour at a time not just a few minutes) I finally gave up and bought an Incra for my router table(LS-25)
The instructions for the Incra lists the smallest dovetail at 1/4” thru and 3/8” blind material thickness if this will help. I’ve found it is hard to beat the Incra for accuracy and their video makes the learning curve fairly simple.

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#2 posted 11-22-2012 12:01 PM

Thanks I’ll look into the Incra.

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#3 posted 11-22-2012 01:15 PM

I have the 4212 and it works well for me on thru dovetails. I can get them so tight I have to use a rubber hammer to knock them apart. I use scrap to set up same thickness as project pieces and that has worked well for me.

I have thought about getting the smaller jig set a few times but just haven’t had the need.

Howie, the easiest way I found to work the 4212on dovetails was to use two routers rather than switching bits back and forth.
Once I did that it was like night and day. No frustration and very minor adjustments to get tight fitting joints.

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40 posts in 3955 days

#4 posted 11-24-2012 10:15 PM

The new 16” PC omni jig works very well for minature dovetails. This is probably were they corrected the issue, but not sure if you can justify the cost… Goodluck

-- BN in Western Michigan

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6315 posts in 3820 days

#5 posted 05-07-2015 07:15 PM

Wow, you are the first person I have heard of that started with the Leigh and then got a P.C. jig. It’s usually the other way around.
I started with the 4210, and actually got really good HB dovetails with it. Now I have the Akeda, which is a really slick system for thin stock. You use steeper angled bits with thinner stock, 14 or 20 degree dovetails for 1/4”-3/8” parts. The bits are pretty small, and it makes some interesting joints.

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5 posts in 34 days

#6 posted 01-24-2021 04:43 AM

I am not an expert at woodworking, or using this jig, but have been playing with it for a while. The problem your picture is showing is not tightness. If it was loose, there should be a gap at the top and bottom of the dovetail, yours only shows the gap at the bottom. This is a different issue, and no amount of depth adjustment will solve it. Do the joints go together tight? They look tight, but hard to tell from a pic.

I ran into this with the full sized blind jig. The flat aluminum guide is not very stiff, and can easily bow. When putting in the side piece (non blind piece) it is very easy to push up on the guide plate, causing it to bow up. If that happens, you get the gap. I always put in the face (and if narrow, another piece on the other side), and verify the template is flat and tight. I then hold the plate down when inserting the vertical piece, just to be sure. Also, some down pressure on the router helps. I just received the miniature template, so will be trying some tests soon. I will let you know my results.

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5 posts in 34 days

#7 posted 01-25-2021 08:16 PM

Ok, I finally was able to play with the 4215 template using some scrap poplar. I was able to get nice tight half blind joints, but with the bit depth set to 5/16”. With thinner wood, this would not work. I was using 1/2” (7/16” actual) and this only left an eighth. It certainly would not work with 1/4” wood.

With the full sized template, I was able to use other bits. I am wondering if a steeper bit would allow a shallower cut? Anybody try this?

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