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Thread: Leigh D4R Pro

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    Florida
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    Question Leigh D4R Pro

    I just joined the crowd and wanted to get some input going on tips, websites, videos, etc. that might not show up immediately in searches but that others found valuable to get going when they first started using this jig. Anything beyond the Leigh website that is a must read or watch?

    i donít have the accessory kit yet but will order it under the $99 special with Leigh on Monday. I hear it may take a few months to get though.

    Thanks as as always for your guidance.

  2. #2
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    Be aware that you will need various router cutters to use with the jig. I have a Leigh jig. I don't remember the last time I used it.
    Actually, I don't use the shop much these days. I need a SWMBO project.

  3. #3
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    You want a set of cutters that are designed for the D4 setup...length is important. I'll also recommend the 8mm shank for these as long as you can get an appropriate collet for the router(s) you intend to use with the jig. Much stronger than .25" shank cutters, especially given the longer length required for this jig. It's not a terrible idea to have two routers (even nicer if they are identical) for when you need to cut joinery that requires two cutters and separate setups. Saves a lot of time as you process things.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  4. #4
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    Nov 2003
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    Welcome to the forum, Greg. I think you will like it here.

    Cutting dovetails and pins with a router and a D4R works best if you have two routers, one with the dovetail bit and the other with the straight bit. This lets you keep your router depth settings which for doing blind dovetails is critical.

    I found that putting a marking pen arrow on the top of the base of each router, and always pointing the router arrow toward the jig when using it, removes any small router base to bit errors from affecting the cut. I still use a centering cone to get the router base centered as best as I can, but keeping the arrow pointing toward the router jig guarantees that the base centering errors will not get into the joint.

    I built a router stand (just kind of a box with a large hole in the top for the router bit). It is the same height as my jig, so I can park my "in use"router on it when changing boards, etc. The VRS helps stabilize the router when it's in use, but having a place to park the router off the jig makes arm muscles complain less after cutting dovetails all day.

    I use two of the same model router (DeWalt 618) with my D4R, so I put tape on the top of the motor and drew a picture of the bit (dovetail or straight) on the tape, to keep me from picking up the wrong router DAMHIKT

    You don't need a lot of power when cutting dovetails, so a smaller lighter weight router that will take 1/2" shank bits is the preferred choice. The 1/2" bits flex less than 1/4", so they will produce more accurate joints. For improved comfort and control, I prefer using the D handle bases on my routers when cutting dovetails, but use any fixed base that is comfortable for you.

    Always go back over your cut a second time to be certain that you have closely followed the guide pins or your joint will not fit together at assembly time.

    Always remember to drop the guide pins back down after replacing a board. (I'm good at failing to do this)

    Always insert the spacers between the guide pins to keep the router from cutting where you don't want it to. If you run out of the plastic strips that you can order from Leigh, it is possible to use wood of the same dimension, cut to the lengths needed as replacements. After use, I keep mine in a small plastic box with the jig to use the next time. It's amazing how often the right length piece will already be in this box the next time that I use the jig.

    I hope these tips help.
    Charley

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Lancaster, Ohio
    Posts
    54
    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Lent View Post
    Welcome to the forum, Greg. I think you will like it here.

    Cutting dovetails and pins with a router and a D4R works best if you have two routers, one with the dovetail bit and the other with the straight bit. This lets you keep your router depth settings which for doing blind dovetails is critical.

    I found that putting a marking pen arrow on the top of the base of each router, and always pointing the router arrow toward the jig when using it, removes any small router base to bit errors from affecting the cut. I still use a centering cone to get the router base centered as best as I can, but keeping the arrow pointing toward the router jig guarantees that the base centering errors will not get into the joint.

    I built a router stand (just kind of a box with a large hole in the top for the router bit). It is the same height as my jig, so I can park my "in use"router on it when changing boards, etc. The VRS helps stabilize the router when it's in use, but having a place to park the router off the jig makes arm muscles complain less after cutting dovetails all day.

    I use two of the same model router (DeWalt 618) with my D4R, so I put tape on the top of the motor and drew a picture of the bit (dovetail or straight) on the tape, to keep me from picking up the wrong router DAMHIKT

    You don't need a lot of power when cutting dovetails, so a smaller lighter weight router that will take 1/2" shank bits is the preferred choice. The 1/2" bits flex less than 1/4", so they will produce more accurate joints. For improved comfort and control, I prefer using the D handle bases on my routers when cutting dovetails, but use any fixed base that is comfortable for you.

    Always go back over your cut a second time to be certain that you have closely followed the guide pins or your joint will not fit together at assembly time.

    Always remember to drop the guide pins back down after replacing a board. (I'm good at failing to do this)

    Always insert the spacers between the guide pins to keep the router from cutting where you don't want it to. If you run out of the plastic strips that you can order from Leigh, it is possible to use wood of the same dimension, cut to the lengths needed as replacements. After use, I keep mine in a small plastic box with the jig to use the next time. It's amazing how often the right length piece will already be in this box the next time that I use the jig.

    I hope these tips help.
    Charley

    I use a D3 with 2 PC 690 routers 1/2" collets for thru dovetails
    all of the above are good practices, some I need to add to my habits
    have 8mm collets, have not needed them yet not certain what comes in the acc. set
    don't ram and jam then cry when it doesn't work, it is a strong jig that works well as long as you are steady and stable
    use a foot switch to turn router on and off, d handle bases would be nice(haven't found some at a great price when I have the money yet)
    cutting thru dovetails in 15/16 - 1 1/16 boards up to 22" wide x 64" long
    VRS is very nice would not want to do without
    Harbor Freight bushings need trimmed to length, Whiteside bits work great

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Florida
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    Thanks. I meant I was new to the D4R, not the forum.

    i have a DW618 with D handle now and will look to supplement with a second one. Regarding bits, would the box of bits included with the accessory kit not be what I need to get started? Also, for collets I have a box set of porter cable collets but not sure if that works.

    Thanks for all the other tips.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    I do not believe that PC collets will work on the DeWalt router. The jig comes with a few sample "most common" bits, but there are actually sets out there designed specifically for the D4 that cover the bases for all the commonly supported joinery.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Florida
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    So the router bits included with the accessory kit kit are not enough? It includes 11 additional Leigh bits and collet. Also includes the vacuum bracket. That’s what you get for $99 right now with purchase of the jig. https://www.highlandwoodworking.com/...ssory-kit.aspx


    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    I do not believe that PC collets will work on the DeWalt router. The jig comes with a few sample "most common" bits, but there are actually sets out there designed specifically for the D4 that cover the bases for all the commonly supported joinery.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Northern Michigan
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    You should be all set with the bits in the accessory package as that is Leigh’s largest bit set for the D4.

  10. #10
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    They are certainly enough! That appears to be the full Leigh set. Do note that you need an 8mm collet for most of them so be sure to acquire that for your specific router(s) that will get used with the jig. I thought you were referring to the typical 3 bit (I think) set that comes with the jig...or at least did when I got mine many years ago. I bought a full set from one of the then-market-leaders Jessada to fill things out.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  11. #11
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    Jun 2003
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    The bit set is supposed to include an 8mm to 1/2” bushing as well as a template adapter.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Florida
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    Thanks. The deal with Leigh this month is that if you buy the jig from an authorized retailer you can buy the accessory kit from Leigh for just $99 shipped. Takes a little time to get but saves a few bucks over the combo set up front. I picked the jig up at highland.

    Crazy thing is I previously had one that I exchanged for the RTJ400 instead. Never even used that jig before tearing my shop apart and selling my router table. Sold the RTJ400 a few months ago so now I’m back to a D4R Pro for my first foray into dovetail jigs. Have the shop back operational and I’m excited to use the jig.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Goodyear, AZ
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    23
    I purchased the D4R Pro and Accessory kit a few years ago and found the learning curve a little on the steep side for my garage woodworker self. I spent some time in the great manual and the DVD that came with it. I was finally able to knock out some decent dove tails. I've been using the Festool OF1400 router and after reading a few of the posts on this threat will pick up another router possible a Dewalt or Triton. I can see that mounting the straight router bit on one and the dovetail bit in the other should save some time.

  14. #14
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    Ted, the ability to do so much with the D4 does bring a level of complexity to learning to use it. But I found the manuals to be excellent in that respect, taking you through the process for a particular style/size of joinery.

    On the router, I think there are two specific advantages to using a fixed base router with the dovetail jig rather than a plunger like the OF1400. (which is my favorite router and the one I use most in my work) The first is balance...a fixed base router like the DW618 or similar has a lower center of gravity. The second is that it's often easier to "micro adjust" the bit height while physically looking at things at eye level because it's just a tiny twist to raise lower the motor. IMHO.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Lancaster, Ohio
    Posts
    54
    To me the whole reason for two routers is the ability to set the depth of cut where the fit of the dovetail is exactly to my liking. Then can cut either tails or pins in any order just changing position of the jig. I personally don't care to machine all of one part then reset to make all of the other part. I have done production woodworking way in the past and then went 20 years before getting back into woodworking strictly for pleasure, not on anyone's time schedule.

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