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Thread: Best Dovetail jig for production boxes

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Sabo View Post
    I would (and do) order almost all of my drawer boxes from dedicated drawer manufacturers. They are so efficient at it that it's near impossible to compete on an expense basis. .
    Yes, I've done that for larger jobs for my home...the kitchen and all the vanities/built-ins when our addition went on. I used Keystone, but there are quite a few sources and the prices are pretty much the same or less than buying the material before doing the labor. That's less practical for smaller projects, however, unless one lives near the source and can pick them up. I also bought the knock down version because that reduced shipping cost and putting together precisely cut drawer boxes is fast and easy. I actually have my D4 for sale right now as I haven't used it in years. I went to hand-cutting through dovetails for furniture joinery and most drawers I build are for situations where I don't need dovetails...glue, screws and butt joints do the job well for those. But that's based on specific projects...dovetails do have a place and I'll use them when they are appropriate.
    Last edited by Jim Becker; 10-11-2019 at 10:36 AM.
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    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  2. #32
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    May 2008
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    You know, I was looking at that stack of drawers and thinking I might likely NOT use dovetails for such a build.

    I might instead use the incra i-box jig and gang/stack and cut several at a time with a dado. A good dado might be a cleaner cut and ganging them would be much faster than the 1-off dovetail jig

  3. #33
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    Dec 2018
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    Vermont (Home Town Cincinnati, OH)
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    Humm, kinda was thinking for my limited use maybe that's the way to go. I wouldn't use the incra but thinking my slider would make quick work of that. I mean here's the thing, for the shop a rabbit, glue and pins is all that's really needed, a lot of basic build kitchens that I did used this method without issue, but for my house and the occasional build for someone I know (no more cabinet work for strangers) I would like to dress it up a bit hence the post. Not sure if its faster with the Keller pro and 2 routers though, probably faster than a Leigh jig though...


    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Beckett View Post
    You know, I was looking at that stack of drawers and thinking I might likely NOT use dovetails for such a build.

    I might instead use the incra i-box jig and gang/stack and cut several at a time with a dado. A good dado might be a cleaner cut and ganging them would be much faster than the 1-off dovetail jig

  4. #34
    If dovetails are not required, and especially if the drawers are for shop use, the approach I took with my shop drawers was to miter prefinished baltic birch using a dedicated sled on the table saw with the blade tilted at 45 degrees. I reinforce the miters with biscuits and plenty of glue. The Merle corner clamps are great for jobs like this. The biscuits hold the assembly together for gluing and prevent sliding around. Nice clean look, never had one come apart yet.

  5. #35
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    Edwin, you can get a similar clean look without the complexity of mitering by using butt joints, the biscuits/dowels/Dominos if you prefer, glue and pocket screws on the fronts and backs into the sides. This even works with .5" sheet goods with the proper setup for the pocket screws and 1" pocket screws instead of 1.25" pocket screws. This, of course, assumes that you have an applied drawer front in play.
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    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #36
    Join Date
    May 2013
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    Northern Virginia
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    My shop drawers are butt joints with glue and narrow crown staples. The bottoms are 3/16 hardboard. About as fast and cheap as you can build.

  7. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    Edwin, you can get a similar clean look without the complexity of mitering by using butt joints, the biscuits/dowels/Dominos if you prefer, glue and pocket screws on the fronts and backs into the sides. This even works with .5" sheet goods with the proper setup for the pocket screws and 1" pocket screws instead of 1.25" pocket screws. This, of course, assumes that you have an applied drawer front in play.
    Jim, 1/2" sheet goods can actually be closer to 7/16". If you're comfortable driving a pocket screw through material that thin, then you have more guts than me. I would be worried that there is too little meat on either side of the screw and too little depth in the mating piece. Maybe if the drawer is not loaded heavily and treated gently I could see it holding up.

    The other issue with butt joining is relying on the material thickness being consistent if your drawers size is critical. This is one of the reasons I went to reinforced miters for utility drawers because all parts can be cut to final precise drawer width and length and minor deviations in thickness do not matter. I just kept running into inconsistent sheet good thickness. Now that I think about it, you could build all your drawers undersized and then shim the slides, but now we're talking more time...

    A table saw or router table drawer lock joint cut with a dado stack or a slot cutter would be another good way to go. There are also a couple of special router bits designed for single setup drawer lock joints that could be a good solution for the OP if dovetails are not required. Of the two styles I have used, I prefer this one: https://www.freudtools.com/products/99-240

  8. #38
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    I've done it a number of times, Edwin, but yes, the tolerances are close. Sheet goods are actually metric which partially accounts for the "nominal" sizing. Using quality "multi-ply"/BB can help with the issues you describe, but I do agree that the method I described requires careful measuring. I would think that the thickness challenge would be as much for mitering, too.

    Lock miters are really great...if one can get the setup dead on. I've struggled with that even with the fancy setup-jig!
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    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

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