Top positive review
Not "perfect", but dang it makes nice dovetails.
Reviewed in the United States on March 28, 2016
In building a large workshop / workbench setup for my...workshop...my design called for 19 drawers of various sizes. I elected to use 1/2" Baltic birch plywood for the drawer sides (some of them are very deep and solid was cost prohibitive), and because I was intending to build this to actually last an perhaps even improve the value of my house, I decided I wanted to dovetail them. Oh how neat it would be to learn to make dovetails by hand, then realizing I had almost 80 joints to make...I scrapped that idea and looked for a jig.
Other jigs I've looked at are either really cheaply made, and end up with horrendously looking joints that are either too loose, too tight, messed up, don't fit etc. -OR- they're super crazy expensive and are for professional furniture builders to make their joints look all artistic. So I arrived here...
I bought the Porter Cable dovetail jig based on it's consistently and overwhelmingly positive reviews here and other places around the internet. I took a chance, and dang, this jig is incredible. I've cranked out 16 half-blind dovetail joints so far (photo of a few of them), and a LOT of practice joints while dialing in exactly how tight I wanted them to fit. If you're on the fence about this one, this jig makes dovetailing about as simple as it gets. Now with my process understood and underway, I can get through about drawer's worth of joints in ~15 minutes including setup.
* Robust build (for the most part): Everything feels solid, except for the little bolts that the clamp pressure knobs ride on. Luckily these are a common hex head bolt, in case they get bent from trying to apply to much clamping force.
* The templates are very high quality machined surfaces, and leave almost no wiggle when the correct template adapter is fit in there. My dovetail joints can be "need-a-hammer" tight if I want them to be.
* On that...when the joints are too tight, there are little reminders on the side that help you remember what to do to adjust the jig to loosen them up...without needing to bust out the instruction manual.
* Quality joints. This thing, along with the bits and the template guides they give you in the pack, produces extremely attractive and solid joints. Test fitting can sometimes be a one-way street. Good luck getting them apart. If you add glue, well the wood will break before the joint does.
Non-pro Tip: Have a deadblow hammer on hand, because sometimes despite your best efforts and setup, the joints will need a little convincing to go together :)
* Super easy. My first dovetail joint was very snug, clean, (see the images), well fit successful and it took me about 20 minutes to understand the process before I had tested out a few things and was into making my first drawer. Just take your time, work on one drawer at time and one dovetail joint at a time, and MARK YOUR PIECES BEFORE STARTING because it can get a little confusing.
* The instructions...oh gosh what a mess. But then again being an engineer myself, it IS pretty tough to write simple instructions on a relatively complex setup, so I can understand this (a little). As an alternative, just watch a couple YouTube videos on this and you'll be set.
* The adjustable bit depth knobs are plastic and unless the bits are dropped in/out perfectly vertically, these will get cut up very fast (mine already are). I suppose if these were metal it would dull the bit, but there soft plastic seems like the wrong choice as the reference surface won't last long. Also, on this, the design doesn't leave much vertical space to fit a wrench in there to adjust the backup nut, a little extra would help.
For what I paid for this jig, (~$150) this is a no-brainer. It's not perfect, but it's so simple, so useful, and does such a good job, it's hard to get upset at minor flaws.
PS. Worked great with Ply wood, a few fractures here and there, but simply sandwiching the vertically hanging piece with sacrificial piece prevents tear outs from becoming a big issue.