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Ok, so to remove all doubt I am by all intents and purposes very new to the whole woodworking thing. That said, I am in the process of designing a custom wood box for an important collection of hardcover books for my wife, and thought it'd be cool to use through dovetails on the edges. The problem being I've never attempted any dovetailing.

Fast forwarding a bit, I purchased a dovetail jig from general tools (the gold one, i think its the ez dovetail jig II or something like that). It came in the mail today about 30 minutes before I had to leave for work- just enough time for me to open it and form some questions without a chance to answer them by trying. I set up my router with the included 1/4" shank, 1/2 inch dovetailing bit and when to cut into my test board (i'm testing my abilities on cheap lumber I had laying around rather than diving in on the more expensive hardwood, as to not waste money when I inevitably mess up). Immediately i ran into an issue. The board is a 1×8 (aka .75 inches thick) and the dovetailing bit is set up with the bushings and such on the shank- not allowing to make a clean pass at .75 inches deep into the wood…..Am I missing something totally obvious or do I just need to buy a bigger bit? The jig instructions claim to be able to dovetail lumber from .5inches to 1 inch thick so the .75 seems to be in the wheel house. My assumption when I started was I need to cut the tails and pins at the same thickness as the lumber as to make a truly flush and square joint.

When I watch the instructional video for the jig the guy claims to be using a 1×8 but only cuts 1/2 inch tails for his dovetails…again I ask am I missing something?
 

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I just glanced at the online manual, but it looks like you set the depth using a gauge that comes with the unit. I did not watch the video that you mention, but if he is cutting less than full depth, he is going for blind or half blind dovetails.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply, I suppose I should've said I too read the instructions several times, I fully grasp the use of the depth gauge. The problem in have is the after setting the depth using the gauge on the jig (set to .75" on said gauge) when I went to make my first pass the bushings that rides along the jig on the bit fully hit the wood I was attempting to cut. The cutting edge on the bit is only 0.5" tall and the bushing follows immediately. Ultimately the question is do I need a different bit to make through dovetails on a piece of 0.75" stock or do I make one pass at 0.5 and a second pass at 0.75 to clear the top of the wood out of the way.
 

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I'd say yes, you need another bit. Page 10 of the manual says that to make a full through dovetail, "This requires a dovetail cutter bit with a depth equal to or greater than the wood thickness you are cutting."

I was about to say that the kit may only have included a smaller bit, but it looks like there's only one size. Maybe the bearing isn't positioned correctly on the shank. Are you seeing all of the cutting edge? Try loosening the set screw that locks the bearing to the shank and sliding it up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yea the whole surface is exposed, moving the bearing up will just expose the shank which obviously doesn't have any cutting surface so my problem will just be shifted to the shank hitting the wood instead of the bearing. I think just talking the whole thing out makes it very very obvious that I just need a bit with at least 0.75 in of cutting surface.
 

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They may have just cheaped out and expect you to buy your own bigger bit. Might be a good reason to go with a 1/2" shank - heavier duty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I agree they certainly cheaped out. I had to spend 10 minutes digging around to find the 1/4 in adapter for my router, all of my other bits are 1/2 shank.

Only issue there is the spinning shank riding on the aluminum jig make wear it out over time making sloppy dovetails. That's where the bearing on the 1/4" shank comes in handy, it isn't as violent while running on the jig.
 

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You don't see many dovetails that are more than half inch thick in furniture making. The point of the dove tail is to find a way to join two pieces of light wood and make a strong connection. It's become more and more an art form and shown off. If I had to make drawers, I'd use blind dovetails anyway but likely I'd take out the Kreg Jig and save a lot of time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I do agree the ol' kreg would save a bit of time, but that defeats the point on several levels. I am making a box, not drawers and the dovetails are for show as well as strength on what will be heavy cargo- and I like to learn new skills with woodworking, the time taken is just part of the enjoyment for me. (Even though jigs and powertools speed things up a little)

Where I come from slow is smooth, smooth is fast. I guess it's all a matter of perspective..
 
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