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Leigh DR4 PRO Dovetail Jig Feedback??

frostman's picture

I am considering buying a dovetail jig. I am a home woodworker, so this jig will be used "now and then". But, I am a perfectionist, so I am not happy with the look and fit of my handcut dovetails (through and half-blind).

I see an old (1999) review of the Leigh DR4 jig on the FW website, but I think that Leigh must have modified or updated their jig since then. I know it's expensive, but it's for ME!! So, I don't mind. 

Does anyone have any feedback about the DR4 PRO? How does it compare to other dovetail jigs (Porter Cable, MLCS, others?) Is the Leigh REALLY so hard to set up?

Thanks

frostman's picture

Found more info... (post #161236, reply #1 of 7)

I have found a more recent review of the DR4 jig...sorry for my premature question. 

But, if anyone has any opinions about the DR4 PRO, please let me have them before I spend the big bucks...

Thanks again.

Reg66's picture

Leigh Jigs (post #161236, reply #3 of 7)

I have had the D4 for ~15 years and have both the dove tail and MMT finger boards and about 2 years ago got the FMT Pro. These are exceptionally well made tools and the user manuals are outstanding. In fact, I used the manuals as models for writing operating procedures for very complex steel making and steel mill processing equipment.
They are expensive. In early 1996 I purchased the D4 for $339; the equivalent jig today is $499. I have not used the other jigs you mentioned so I can't provide a comparative assessment. What I can say is that they are very precise tools with a great deal of flexibility and supported by a very knowledgable technical staff. Also, Leigh has an extensive library of very well written manuals/procedures for making special joints such as angled dovetails, box joints and a variety of other not so obvoius uses for the jigs. Sliding dove tails are quite easy to do for example. These jigs require longer than normal length bits and those available from Leigh are my first choice but the bits from MLCS work just fine. I prefer, and Leigh recommends, 8mm (5/16") shanks rather than 1/4". For deep boring applications with the MMT set up 1/2" shanks and 4" long spiral upcut bits are a must. I prefer the solid carbide bits over the HSS. A plunge router is required. I use an Elu 3338 and find it a perfect match for the Leigh jigs. Some complain about the multi page manuals but these are sophisticated jigs and the instructions are very, very detailed and essential for the occasional user as you may be. There are simpler jigs out there but none as versitile as the Leigh especially if you want to do more than simple half blind and through dovetails. So, you are about to make a rather sustantial investment in both the jig and associated bits, collet adapters and guide bushings. When you add up all the costs and the available joints for each jig I think you'll see that the Leigh (Pro series) is a worthy investment. 
Regis

RalphBarker's picture

Guiding questions (post #161236, reply #4 of 7)

First, do you need the 24" capacity of the DR4? Second, do you need variable spacing for what you describe as occasional use?

If the answer to both questions is "no", then you might find the Porter Cable 4212 jig easier to use and easier to set up. But, be aware of the limitations that are imposed by a fixed-spacing jig. The fixed spacing imposes stock-width increments that are essential for symmeterical joints, and symmetrical joints are important if making boxes with through dovetails. The PC 4212 has templates available for both "normal" (1/2") and mini DTs (1/4"). It's fairly easy to use and set up, once you understand the design. The PC manual, however, could benefit from a re-write.

If you need both 24" capacity and variable spacing, either the Leigh DR4 or the PC Omnijig are good choices. The advantage of the PC Omnijig is that it includes a number of bit-depth gauges that can be set for various stock thicknesses, easing the setup process. But, the Omnijig is larger and heavier than the DR4. Although variable spacing eliminates the need to adhere to stock-width limitations of the fixed-spacing jigs, it also imposes more complexity in setup.

jg0258's picture

I do not have the DR4 but (post #161236, reply #2 of 7)

I do not have the DR4 but have the Super Leigh jig. It was a PITA to set up and use. I truly believe that if you do the 5 minutes dovetails practice your hand cut dovetails will improve. But if you are dead set on buying a jig I would go with the Akeda rather than the Leigh or PC. 

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"But in too many cases we find that we are constantly dealing with what is urgent, and not with what is important.  They are not the same. " David Ring on running a ww business. 

frostman's picture

OK. I have ordered the Leigh (post #161236, reply #5 of 7)

OK. I have ordered the Leigh DR4 PRO - should arrive tomorrow. I think I am smart enough to learn how to use it...and if not, it will be fun trying. Thanks for all your comments and suggestions. Wish me luck. 

TerrySt's picture

I would like to know what (post #161236, reply #6 of 7)

I would like to know what your preliminary thoughts are regarding the DR4 PRO dovetail jig. I'M thinking of purchasing one myself. Thanks for any information you may have.

 

Terry

frostman's picture

It's good! (post #161236, reply #7 of 7)

Hi Terry,

I have used it a few times since I bought it - just to learning purposes. It is complicated to use the first time or two, but you get the hang of it and after a few test runs, it works well. I have made through dovetails, half blinds and also half blind with a rabbited lip drawfront. They are a heck of a lot nice than my hand made ones. They fit tight and look professional. The only thing I have not had luck doing (yet) is assymetrical dovetails...

The hardest thing to do is to get the depth of cut on the router bit exactly right. You do need to make a few extra pieces and get that right first, before cutting the final pieces.

Good luck.