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Thread: Dovetails: Leigh verse Omni?

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Suffolk, Va.
    Posts
    178
    I had a porter cable but bought the Leigh router table jig RTJ400 https://www.leightools.com/rtj400-overview/. It is a great jig.
    Michael Dilday
    Suffolk, Va.

  2. #17
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Lancaster, Ohio
    Posts
    198
    I have a Leigh 3 that has been upgraded, bought it used. I have 2 routers PC 690's set up when using it, 1/2" bits, foot switches for each router and the dust collection.
    I think it is fantastic, not at all what I expected after reading all the bad reviews. I change the settings for each width of drawer, case carcass, etc.
    Bought it to make drawers for a 6' high chest for my wife. Even spaced the dovetails, dropping one each time the drawers got smaller the higher they got. Use a center rule to set all of the guides as evenly as I can. Follow the directions and take my time setting it up as I am normally not very patient. Found it easy to setup and change to the next size, Had no blow outs and got the joint to fit good enough for me. YMMV. This was in 30 year old popular that was very hard. Next up build a chest out of cherry that is 5' long x 20" deep x 36" high with dovetails on all corners. All drawers were thru dovetailed equally spaced, all 4 sizes/heights. kept subtracting one dovetail each time. I had to build the jig up and stand on a platform to cut the top, bottom of the case and the front, backs of the drawers. Getting ready to get it out again to make a 4' high chest for granddaughter with all dovetail corners. I have nothing but good to say about the Leigh jig. I can't stand the small dovetails on the fixed jigs. I used to cut dovetails by hand not any more.
    Good luck
    Ron

  3. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Woodstock. Ont.
    Posts
    202
    I have had a Leigh jig for about 40 years and use it for making half blind dovetails for the kitchens I build. Probably do 100 drawers a year. Not trying to insult anyone but if you are having problems you are not following along in the manual. The beauty of hb’s is that you only need one router. Years ago I made through DT’s but when making 25 drawers and have 100 pieces of wood I would inevidently cut pins on a piece when it needed tails. I have found the bits from Leigh seem to stand up much better than others I have tried.

    Brian

  4. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Peoria, IL
    Posts
    1,499
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ross View Post
    I have had a Leigh jig for about 40 years and use it for making half blind dovetails for the kitchens I build. Probably do 100 drawers a year. Not trying to insult anyone but if you are having problems you are not following along in the manual. The beauty of hbs is that you only need one router. Years ago I made through DTs but when making 25 drawers and have 100 pieces of wood I would inevidently cut pins on a piece when it needed tails. I have found the bits from Leigh seem to stand up much better than others I have tried.

    Brian
    Not trying to insult anyone here, but if you cut pins on a board when it needed tails, you are not following along in the manual! LOL

  5. #20
    the half blinds look poor compared to through dovetails. The usual standard, you see even on the Offshore stuff. Maybe they have smartened up and stopped knocking pre finished front and sides together where they dont even line up flush. Junk. The through you make your own spacing, the tails are larger look better as you dont have that consistent look the half blind do. You get about 80 percent as nice looking as a hand cut when you use that jig set up for through dovetails. Sure its a bit slower to do the through ones but its still a nicer looking drawer. ive only used the Leigh jig but it does a good job. I found two or three simple things I didnt like, memory says pieces slipping had to put sandpaper on one measure a hair off and remember tightening down one nut would change a setting. Through dovetails it gives nice results.

  6. #21
    Had the Leigh for years. It is not an 'easy' set up but once you do it a few times, it takes very little time to make perfect joints.

    I could see it being an issue though if you are just making one drawer or one box at a time, where the jig excels is blasting off many drawers. For one drawer I suspect I could hand cut them faster than doing the set of the jig and then routing them out.

  7. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Coers View Post
    Not trying to insult anyone here, but if you cut pins on a board when it needed tails, you are not following along in the manual! LOL
    The manual is flawless..... if you follow it!

    I even make sure to follow their marking system to make sure not to make silly errors and keep the manual out when I am cutting DT's even though I have plenty of use on the machine.

  8. #23
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Denver
    Posts
    121
    Michael - I had a Leigh. I used it to make through dovetails on one project then sold it. It did a great job, it's built well, and it gets the best reviews. There's a learning curve and it will feel cumbersome for awhile.

    I wanted a jig again and picked up a used Porter Cable. It's not built like the old Omni - Lighter duty but works well. For me, the Leigh isn't worth the money for the few drawers I build. When I want great furniture quality drawers with great finish, I call a local drawer shop and have them made. I can't touch the quality for the small premium.

    You see used dovetail jigs all the time. That tells me a lot of people don't use them very often.

  9. #24
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Alaska
    Posts
    225
    Quote Originally Posted by michael dilday View Post
    I had a porter cable but bought the Leigh router table jig RTJ400 https://www.leightools.com/rtj400-overview/. It is a great jig.
    I checked one of those out, but as it's fixed spacing, decided to move on. Almost the same price as one of the super jigs too.

  10. #25
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Evanston, IL
    Posts
    1,355
    I had a Leigh jig. I was drawn to it by the ability to do variable spacing. It worked very well, but I didn't use it often enough to remember all of the set up information from one time to the next. The manual is very good and, while set up requires test pieces and adjustments, it creates good joints once dialed in.

    I had two issues with the jig, which caused me to give it away and cut my dovetails by hand. First, while variable spacing can make the joints look better than uniform spacing, the minimum pin size was not thin enough to be visually pleasing to my eye. You can only get so thin with a router bit. I prefer the look of pins that taper to not much more than a saw kerf. They're not as strong as evenly spaced pins and tails, but they just look better to me and they are strong enough for my projects. Second, the process of routing dovetails is noisy, dusty and generally no fun. (I didn't have the dust collection accessory for my Leigh jig, so I don't know how much it might reduce the mess.) For the number of dovetails I incorporate in my projects, cutting them by hand is fast enough and is enjoyable to me.

    Now a confession: I recently made the kitchen cabinets for my home. I had to do 21 drawers (84 corners) ranging from 4+" to 8+" inches tall. Rather than cut those by hand, I bought the cheap Porter Cable jig that does only half blind dovetails. I wouldn't use it for furniture projects because the dovetails are obviously machine made, but it worked well and quickly for kitchen drawers. For just over $100, including the necessary bit, it was well worth it, even if I never use it again.

  11. #26
    Since it is a hobby, why not learn to cut them by hand. It is not difficult, you are only sawing to a line. However, if you do not have sharp tools, it will be frustrating. Experience starts when you begin. It is far more gratifying than the scream of a router.

  12. #27
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Northern Illinois
    Posts
    553
    I also own the Porter Cable 24" Omnjig, believing that I would some day make a couple of projects which would justify the 24" capacity. I never have. I doubt that the Leigh jigs would significantly change the setup time. I think the problem with dovetail jigs is that, for guys like me who love woodworking, don't want to spend the time to master hand cut dovetails, and use these tools infrequently, the setup on any dovetail jig or system becomes tedious because it is a learning process each time. The Omnijig does a fantastic job, as does the Incra system. For what I do I generally have now used my Incra table and fence. I'm sorry I own the Omnijig and would be equally sorry if I bought a Leigh jig (although they are arguably one of the best). As for the RTJ400 the demos I've seen indicate that, although it might be easier to set up (debatable though) it makes a mess, not allowing good dust collection even with high end dust collectors and/or vacs.

  13. #28
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Suffolk, Va.
    Posts
    178
    I have a PC and don't like it. Seems inconsistent. I purchased the Leigh RJT400 and it is great IMO. The jig that goes on the router table.
    Michael Dilday
    Suffolk, Va.

  14. #29
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Alaska
    Posts
    225
    Thanks for all the input. I still don't know what I'm gong to do, but you all have given me plenty of sound advice and I thank you for that.

    Variable spaced through DTs are important to me. That eliminates the router table Leigh jig, although that one does look to be the simplest to use.

    I just learned that Festool made a DT jig a few years ago. I found a couple videos on YouTube, but it appears that jig is not available anymore? Considering the functionality and thought that Festool puts into their power tools, they could certainly make a DT jig that's simple to use, but high in quality.

  15. #30
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Modesto, CA, USA
    Posts
    3,635
    One tip is I use a 1/4" carbide spiral endmill, set a hair high, to rough out the dovetails with the jig. Cheap enough bit to toss rather then sharpen and it saves the expensive dovetail bit from wearing out. I leave it in my second router when making drawers.

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