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An Important Note About Dovetail Jigs

Some of you have expressed an interest in bringing along your own dovetail jigs to the Advanced Joinery class. Without wishing to be dismissive of your requests, I would like to discourage you from this for a number of reasons.

Although learning how to set up and use your own dovetail jig is an essential part of your progression as a woodworker, we need to concentrate on making sure you understand the principles behind the use of this complex class of jig rather than simply show you the nuts and bolts on your own. This, frankly, you can get from your instruction book. What is more important for you is to understand the process and methodology behind the use of the jig, the reasons why you should make changes and adjustments and what you should do when itís not working. In reality, although the details will differ slightly, the principles are much the same with most jigs. The truth is that all jigs are capable of making good dovetails. After weíve shown you one of ours and youíve used it, youíll be able to translate this to your own jig without too much difficulty. This is a much more efficient means of teaching the entire class than having everyone stand around while we show one student how to use his or her unique jig.  

Actually, thereís a more prosaic reason, too. The Accessory Table that youíll be building as your course project has very specific, detailed, and for necessary structural reasons, unchangeable dimensions. As you may know, all dovetail joints should begin and end with a half pin. Every manufacturer of dovetail jigs has their own idea of the ideal dimensions for a dovetail joint, and this is reflected in the dimensions of the comb template fingers, which are not variable for any given jig (although the incremental pitch, or spacing between them is with some). For example, with our Porter Cable or Keller jigs, we canít make a 4 inch deep drawer and still retain an exact half pin at each end of the joint. The comb fingers are simply not sized to accommodate this and have the joint look right. Our Leigh jig will, but in fairness, not everyone is going to want to spend more than $900 required to buy the full kit. We shall be using Woodstock International jigs, because the principles are easily demonstrated and translated to other brands and this jig works wonderfully at a very affordable price.   It also makes a perfect four inch deep joint.

One final note on Dovetailing: 
We will be teaching dovetailing in multiple applications in this course with the use of commercially made jigs, shop made jigs and by hand.  While dovetailing is an important element of the course, it only makes up about 25% of the advanced joinery techniques we will be using in the completion of this piece of furniture.  In other words, this course is about much more than dovetail jigs.  It's about incorporating these important elements in the the whole of a first class piece of furniture.

Sincerely Jeff, Rob, and Eoin. 

Advanced Joinery Home   Adv. Joinery Syllabus   Adv. Joinery Materials Options   Required Tool List    How to Enroll

 

Home ] Lohr Woodworking School ] My Arts & Crafts Furniture Gallery ] Live Edge Slab Wood Furniture ] About Me and My Studio ] 2008 W. AFRICA Project ] Woodworking Apprenticeship ] Interesting Links ] Contact Me ] BLOG