Dovetail Jig Help

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Forum topic by swpowe posted 08-29-2016 01:11 PM 869 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 1088 days

08-29-2016 01:11 PM

Hello! First post here on the forums. I’m looking for some help.

I needed to make several drawers and decided to purchase the porter cable dovetail jig to do so. I’m having some issues with my half blind dovetail. I’m using 3/4” pine for testing and I’m having problems getting the joint right. I’ve read the manual and looked around online but I’m still struggling.

1st question – how deep should you cut the half blind dovetails? I can’t find anything anywhere that says how deep to make them. I can see that it’s adjustable and I know I can use a 3/8” wrench to adjust the depth but I’m not sure how deep it should be.

2nd question – I’m trying to figure out why my two sides won’t go together. I have everything setup as I thought it was supposed to be but the side only goes in about halfway or a little less. In the manual it says in this instance to move the template further from me (which I’ve tried) but it doesn’t help. Any suggestions? I’ve attached an image of what’s happening.


9 replies so far

View Kirk650's profile


656 posts in 1201 days

#1 posted 08-29-2016 01:58 PM

I’ve got the PC jig, but have only done through dovetails. That said, looks to me like you aren’t cutting to the right depth. Set the router bit cut depth to the thickness of the wood.

View BurlyBob's profile


6384 posts in 2718 days

#2 posted 08-29-2016 04:02 PM

I tried the same thing with pine on my Leigh jig. My advice…toss the pine and use poplar. I did and it made all the difference in the world.

Finding the sweet spot with the dovetail bit, I found can be a real pain. Looks to me like you need to raise the bit or have less bit protruding a past the base. That description in and of itself can be confusing to say the least. I struggled for over a month from my first dovetail joint to getting to half blind rabbeted dovetails. Keep after it the results are worth it.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5216 posts in 4413 days

#3 posted 08-29-2016 04:10 PM

View HokieKen's profile


10346 posts in 1591 days

#4 posted 08-29-2016 04:19 PM

Your cut depth should be about 1/16” deeper than your dovetail diameter. So for 1/2” dovetails, set your cut depth to 9/16”. That should get you pretty close but like Bob said, you’ll still have to fiddle and tweak to get it just right.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View jwmalone's profile


769 posts in 1154 days

#5 posted 08-29-2016 05:00 PM

I had the same problem, I tossed the jig and got a dovetail saw.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

View pintodeluxe's profile


5970 posts in 3265 days

#6 posted 08-29-2016 05:37 PM

If the sockets aren’t deep enough, adjust the knobs that control the template position. The template needs to move away from the operator to make a deeper cut. There are adjustment lines on the jig to get you close, then just make a couple test cuts until the tails fit flush in the sockets.

Another common problem is not having the bit depth set correctly. That controls how snugly the tails fit into the sockets. If the fit is too tight, adjust the bit depth to make a more shallow cut.

See page 18 here…

I have and use several dovetail jigs including Leigh, Akeda, and Porter cable. I still find the 4210 / 4212 to be a solid jig and a good value.

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

View tmasondarnell's profile


114 posts in 2242 days

#7 posted 08-29-2016 08:55 PM

I was having a bunch of similar problems when I first got mine.

I found this video to be very helpful:

I highly recommend getting what the video calls a small scale (basically s 3-4 inch ruler with a sliding reference point). It is useful not only to center the top board, but also to set the distance of the template (that pintodeluxe mentions). I found I was setting the template on an angle which was throwing me off.

Also, make sure the boards are not shifting

View Woodmaster1's profile


1193 posts in 3039 days

#8 posted 08-29-2016 10:10 PM

I have two routers dedicated to making dovetails. Once I get them dialed they are ready to go when needed. I have the Leigh super jig. I don’t use the bushing that came with it, I find it harder to setup. A 7/16 brass bushing is what I use.

View bbasiaga's profile


1243 posts in 2447 days

#9 posted 08-29-2016 10:51 PM

I have this jig as well. I think the above posts are right that the template itself is too far forward (close to you). Once you get that pushed back enough that the half blind side is as deep as the dovetail sides, you may have to tweak the depth of the bit to make them looser or tighter. Once its set, you just batch them out. Set up usually takes me longer than the actual drawers, but I don’t use the jig often and am always backing up on the learning curve a bit.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

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