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Thread: Dovetails: Leigh verse Omni?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Dovetails: Leigh verse Omni?

    Ya I know, been asked before no doubt....

    I'm a hobbyist woodworker, will never go pro. I make furniture and cabinets, mostly. For self and friends. I often incorporate dovetails into the project. I just like how they look I suppose.... No other reason. My drawers tend to be half blind, and I try to cut through DT's on other projects. I've tried to cut them by hand and I simply do not have the time or the skill, and have no interest in mastering that skill, at least not now.

    I bought a PC Omni 24" many years ago, maybe 20. I have all the templates too, including the adj through DT template. It's a beast and well made, but jeezus, it's a friggin PITA to set up and use. And as infrequently as I use it, I have to re-learn how to use it every time. And the mess..... It's horribly messy. That takes the fun out of this 'hobby' for me.

    When Leigh entered the market, I can recall many wood workers talking about how easy it is to use, and many Omni users moved to the Leigh.

    I also have an Incra router table system, and have used it for DT's too, but it sucks for cutting long'ish boards.

    The question I'm pondering now has to do with ease of use. I'm considering buying a Leigh 12" Super jig for the bulk of stuff I make with through dovetails, or I might just get the 24" Pro model, but if the Leigh is every bit the PITA to set up and use that my Omni is, then I have just wasted money to use somewhere else..... I know that Leigh has a really good dust collection attachment, and that might just be enough to convince me to buy one.....

    I'm hoping someone with experience using both jigs might offer an honest opinion and talk me into, or conversely, out of - buying one of these Leigh Jigs.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
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    Prairie Village, KS
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    I've been looking into dovetail jigs recently and the Leigh gets 5 star reviews all over the place. Much better than the Rockler or PC. I've yet to use any but figured I'd throw that out there.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Peoria, IL
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    If it's the setup that bothers you, buy a Keller. You set the fixture one time to match the diameter of the bit, and never again. All you have to do next time is set the height of the bit for the material thickness. The tightness of the joint never changes with a bit install. When I want a half blind, I glue an oversized piece of 1/8" thick hardwood to the front and trim it to the drawer front with a flush trim bit. When doing drawers, you can invert the fixture and use it on a router table.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Drew View Post



    I bought a PC Omni 24" many years ago, maybe 20. I have all the templates too, including the adj through DT template. It's a beast and well made, but jeezus, it's a friggin PITA to set up and use. And as infrequently as I use it, I have to re-learn how to use it every time. And the mess..... It's horribly messy. That takes the fun out of this 'hobby' for me.
    Amen to that!! Its quite a piece of work, and it does work well, but yes thats a tool I dont want to ever loose the manual on!!
    A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. My desk is a work station.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    folsom, california
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    + 1 on the ease of set up of the keller. had a leigh and sold it, it was a pita to set up.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
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    Once you get the Leigh dialed in, there is nothing to change but the dovetail spacing. That is, if you only use it for one thickness of wood, and keep two dedicated routers. Otherwise, I wouldn't want to bother with one.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Orange Park, FL
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    I'm about to give up on the Leigh. I have yet to do through dove tails. I got it to do half blinds but I think I'll go back to my Keller and if I need half blinds on drawers I'll just put a piece over a through dove tail box to make it appear to be HB.

  8. #8
    I've had both. The Leigh is just designed and built just a tad better. It seems to hold settings better and has less slop to account for during setup.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
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    Greensboro, NC
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    I have the most expensive Leigh Jig and I hate the thing. I dread having to use it, so much so that I just learned to cut them by hand, it's faster and much less annoying.

    The main thing that I dislike about the Leigh jig, aside from long set up and testing times was the tearout. I don't think I have ever used it when tearout didn't occur. I did every suggested trick, but I always got some.

  10. #10
    Take a look into Router Boss. Entirely different way of cutting dovetails and whole a lot of other joints. I first had a Leigh, for the same reasons you state and the sheer versatility moved to WoodRat, which is basically the concept Router Boss is based on. Still has some learning curve, but much easier than Leigh, at least for me.

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Thompson View Post
    I'm about to give up on the Leigh. I have yet to do through dove tails. I got it to do half blinds but I think I'll go back to my Keller and if I need half blinds on drawers I'll just put a piece over a through dove tail box to make it appear to be HB.
    Through-DTs on the Leigh are much easier than HB-DT ... IMHO. HBs involve a lot of trial-and-error, as it sounds like you know! Be sure to cut extra drawer stock.

    It works great when you have a kitchen (of drawers) to build. Like any jig, it shines in (semi-)production use.

    Add: No matter which I'm cutting, I cut 3-4 short pieces (just enough for the clamp to grab) of drawer stock. Each has 2 ends to test with, but usually only takes 2 cuts to dial-in through-DTs, 3 for HB-DT.
    Last edited by Malcolm McLeod; 02-17-2020 at 7:54 PM. Reason: OK! Maybe 10 or 6 tries for HB-DT, if I'm not paying attention.
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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Alaska
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    I reckon I need to give the Keller another look. I did not think it had adjustable spacing though? That is one thing I do like, as I'm not "locked" into a standard divisible width of whatever I'm fitting together.

    I spent the weekend making a bathroom shelving unit out of hickory to match my cabinets. Through DT's and sliding DT's for the shelves. All 3/4" stuff. I must have used up four feet of board just getting the stupid thing set up (all waste and dust). Five hours of set up, maybe half an hour cutting the real joints. And, even with backing boards, I still tore out in a couple places - right where I'll see them forever.....gggrrrrr.... Made me hate doing it. If the Leigh is as difficult, or even close, then screw it. Sounds like the Leigh isn't much better than the Omnijig. Dang it.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Western Nebraska
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    I have to relearn the Leigh nearly every time I use it, but at least they have a really good manual. I would not say that it is simple, but I do like it.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm McLeod View Post

    It works great when you have a kitchen (of drawers) to build.
    Yes! Since it is a PITA to setup the more you have to do the better. When I think about using mine for 6 or 8 drawers I just do box jpints and swallow my pride.

  15. #15
    As long as we're talking DT jigs....what about the Leigh RTJ400 jig for use with a router table. I understand it doesn't do variable spacing, but it seems like it might be easier to set up and use? Anyone have experience with it?
    --Certainty is the refuge of a small mind--

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