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is porter cable dovetail jig considered pro?3/11
We used to out-source all of our dovetail drawers but are now considering doing them in shop. With all other things being equal, what is the main difference between the other more expensive jigs like the leigh and the porter cable that sells for less than half the price?
Leigh does a bunch of fancy shit you don't need and will take you all week to figure out and set up. IMO a dovetail jig such as the PC is only practical if it is dedicated to one specific operation and size (thickness) of drawer parts.
thanks jeff! i imagine we would only be doing 5/8" thick solid wood to be used with blums soft close slides. I can honestly say, i have not ever built a dovetail drawer before,, sure i have assembled hundreds of them over the years but not done one from scratch. So im looking for something that will make the job easy and quick. What do you use jeff?
I've used the old Porter Cable Omnijig, Keller, Leigh, and a couple of others. Can't imagine how you could do them in-house cheaper than purchased. One thing about the half blind fixtures, stock prep is paramount. The fixture comb sits on top of the wood. If you run a piece slightly thinner or thicker, (think snipe off the planer) it will change the fit. You cut both parts at the same time, so any variation is doubled when it comes to the fit. If you were going to do a half dozen drawers once and a while, maybe. But if you do a kitchen every week or more, buy the drawers.
thanks guys. Like i said , we are ''considering'' doing these drawers 'in shop' , we want to get one of these jigs and do somewhat of a 'pilot study' to see if this is something we want to take on for all of our jobs. The company we used to use just was not meeting deadlines, at first they were super. I guess my other question would be, who would be a good company in south florida?
Yes, I would make the investment. They do take a lot of time from stock prep to assembly to finish and then add in the occasional mistake. I have never bought a drawer box and always made them on the porter cable. I figure if it takes me 3 days to make something I might pay $1,500 for, it's worth my time.
I have had several different ones before, and think the PC is a good choice for you. The cams make it pretty quick to change parts.
I would suggest you go ahead and get a router which stays set up dedicated to this jig only. Maybe a big sign on it stating anyone changing it will die. he he.
Actually, They now have a little tab on the end of the jig for setting the bit depth, which takes a lot of guessing out of it.
Get your best craftsman to set it up, and he should know who would be best to train to run them.
ahhh makes sense! thanks! Another thing i thought about recently, and maybe i should start a new thread about this question, but how do you feel about BLUM TANDEMBOX drawer systems as a less 'laborious' option? My clients that have seen them, love em' .
Definitely less labor. Kinda depends on your clientele...do they want metal drawer boxes? I don't like them in high end kitchens unless they are very modern.
mark elliot, elliot woodworking. give him a call he will fix you up.
If you are really going to be making a lot of drawers, and don't want to spend any time on setup, get a Dodds SE-1. I wouldn't waste time with any of the hobbyist jigs for that task in a professional shop.
I agree with Paul. The Dodds SE 1 is the only thing that will come close to making dovetailed drawer boxes at a reasonable cost.
The thing to keep in mind is the major cost of a drawer box is not in the machining and assembling, but in getting the raw lumber to the point that it can be dovetailed and assembled.
If you were in MI I would be going for your business, but I'm just a regional mfg.
One thing is for certain, if you're going to do it, get the right machine.
As an aside, Omec makes the SE 1 for Dodds, if you see an Omec 650, it's the same machine.
thanks guys! i know one thing for sure, we are going to definitely push more blum tandemboxes ,,, i know the real wood men out there will snub this idea but for about 50$ they get at least a 'modern' clean look, sure tandemboxes would probably look stupid on an old traditional kitchen with big cathedral raised panel doors but 95% of our work lately is shaker this shaker that, slab this slab that. I do however want to have confidence doing dovetails in our shop so i think we will start off with the porter cable, then work our way up to the dodds,, as we get feedback from clients. Anymore input on the tandembox stuff from blum??? Im not so sensitive so please knock the idea down as much as you like,,,im all ears!
I own a 24" leigh jig, and it gets used from time to time for one off projects.
To be honest, I wouldn't want to use it to make a kitchen full of drawers.
My solution to the dilemma of building drawers in house, is that I run blind dado drawer boxes on the CNC, from baltic birch plywood. I feel that these are stronger than a lot of inexpensive dovetail drawers. They have a simple look, and are functional. Thats what most of my customers want.
If a customer wants to pay for dovetailed drawers, I will simply outsource them. There are plenty of shops who can crank out dovetail drawers cheaper, and faster than you ever could, and they are probably going to be more consistent, and of higher quality. Sometimes you have to let the drawer guys, do the drawer building.
Quite frankly though. I have seen a lot of poorly built dovetail drawers in inexpensive cabinetry fall apart. Dovetails are associated with craftsmanship more than anything, but this isn't always the case. People like to hear the word dovetail, but i have learned that its a type of joinery that can be highly overrated. They have their place, on museum quality furniture, and high end cabinetry but they are not always needed. I am saying this as someone who has cut them by hand.
I'd forget the PC jig. Too slow, you will be wasting time/money. The Dodds/Omec is a good solution but if you spend the same amount of time that you will in material prep & dovetailing on getting more work out the door you will be $ ahead. We now buy all our drawers from Valen Drawer. Always nice, always on time. Cheaper than we can make them to boot!
I've had a Leigh 24" jig for probably over 10 years. I have to say I'm not one to read directions often, but this thing took some studying to figure out and some trial and error to get right...and I only use it for half-blind. It's very sensitive. If any of those fingers move, it's over.
I use dovetailed boxes for everything I build. I think it's a good way to set my work apart from other stuff. That said, making drawer boxes is the single most hated task I typically have to do when making furniture. It just seems like it takes forever. I don't like sanding, either, but it's a critical process. It's also mostly repetition, and I can just zone out. With the drawer boxes, I have to constantly keep everything organized and stacked. With every piece, I have to stop and think to make sure I'm doing it right. Then, I have to periodically check the fingers, the cut depth, and the fit. It's quite taxing to do that for hours on end, and it really lessen the enjoyment of creating.
I just finished a bedroom set with 16 drawers and, and as I was trying to find a better way for the future, I happened upon a couple of very nice web sites with affordable boxes made to order. I never knew that was even a viable option. I think my dovetail jig has seen it's last daylight.
Try them on the band saw. There's a method in Mark Duginske's book. I know it sounds goofy but once set up it's pretty slick and the results are acceptable with no router blow-out.
Hanging onto that router excavating all that material using a jig could get pretty tiresome. You can buy a $40 jig and do time study. I think you'll find the band saw more fun, as long as through dovetails will do.