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Old 02-11-2012, 10:14 PM
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Default Leigh Dovetail Jig Resurrection

I have an older model (D1258R) Leigh dovetail jig that I can honestly say I haven't used in about 15 years. First of all the dust it creates is unbearable (I'm allergic). Second of all the knobs used to secure the workpiece to the jig were really hard to get tight. I used to get blisters and it still wasn't tight enough.
But lately I had this project idea for my daughter's 18th birthday, a memory box. A place to store keepsakes. My handcut dovetail skills are not yet at the level where I felt I could showcase them on a small box so out comes the Leigh jig. EDIT: Here's a link to the finished box pictures I posted in another thread.
I bought some upgrades....some cam action levers to replace the inferior knobs and I also bought the "VRS" or "vacuum router support". I couldn't be more pleased with the results. The levers make the workpiece rock solid and the VRS not only sucks up 95% of the dust but it also adds some much needed support for the router.
Also, it goes without saying the Festool router and CT system make all the difference. Back in the day I think I was using a black and decker router. Quite a transition.

The vac assembly follows the router by way of the router catching the wire bails on either side of the router and it just pushes it along, keeping the vacuum hose directly underneath the router bit.



Here's the box going together:




I'm not here to start a big debate among the neander purists. This is just another way of getting the job done. I hear say it takes as long to set this jig up than to cut them by hand. This box was cut start to finish well inside 45 min. and I was rusty. I was constantly going back and forth to the manual. BTW, another thing I didn't have 15 years ago was Youtube and the internet in general. Tons of great tips I learned from dudes like Marc S. such as waxing the tops of the finger assembly and using blue painters tape on the front to minimize tearout.

Last edited by JimKirkpatrick; 02-26-2012 at 05:29 PM.
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Old 02-11-2012, 11:47 PM
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Default Re: Leigh Dovetail Jig Resurrection

That's a beauteous box, Jim. Nice work on the dovetails! 45 minutes is pretty fast, given your rustiness. I'm sure I couldn't have done it in anywhere close to that time.

That's a really thoughtful gift for your daughter. I hope she appreciates it!
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Old 02-12-2012, 01:49 AM
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Default Re: Leigh Dovetail Jig Resurrection

Agree the Leigh is a handy jig. I'm also not so adept at hand cut. I do it sometimes, but it definitely is not the fast option.
And you're right. I use it rarely enough, I always have to go back to the book just to make sure I'm not forgetting some detail. That said, I vastly prefer it over any other jig I've tried out. It is a little more brain intensive to set up, but to me it has a level of versatility you don't get with any of the others. Big, small, spacing options.
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Old 02-12-2012, 02:23 AM
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Default Re: Leigh Dovetail Jig Resurrection

Jim, this is a timely post. I can't tell you how many dovetailed drawer boxes I've made over the years for cabinet work. All have been done on my original Porter Cable cast iron omnijig. Since I've been out of the trade I've been going the much slower hand tool route on some projects just for the ugly fun of it. I was just practicing some dovetails yesterday...



It only took all these things to do it...



I've had a massive headache all day from kicking up the arthritis in my neck from the sawing and chiseling.

I was just looking at the Leigh and Porter Cable jigs on youtube. They're looking pretty good to me...



Kerry
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Old 02-12-2012, 02:39 AM
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Default Re: Leigh Dovetail Jig Resurrection

Kerry,

What is the make of the chisel plane in the photo?

Thanks,
Rutager
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Old 02-12-2012, 06:05 AM
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Default Re: Leigh Dovetail Jig Resurrection

I'm going to go with Wood River on that one. How'd I do?

Quite a collection you have there, Bigfoot! From Bridge City to Lie Nielsen, Lee Valley, and bunches of others.

The Leigh jig is a wonderful thing. Though it has a bit of a learning curve, the documentation is exquisite, and it'll work the first time. I've always been impressed.

My handcut dovetails, on the other hand, suck.
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Old 02-12-2012, 01:33 PM
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Default Re: Leigh Dovetail Jig Resurrection



Good guess Poto. It has nothing to do with making dovetails of course... it was just on the bench, so I threw it in the pic. For $60 I was pleasantly surprised at the quality. I use it mostly for cleaning out glue or burr's in tight spots.

Sorry to sidetrack Jim's post...

Anyone else have more input on the Leigh or Porter Cable's current crop of jigs?
I saw in one video the PC will do narrow pins for a more traditional look. Matter of a specific bit and stops. Will the Leigh do this? The PC jig seems huge. I like the compactness of the Leigh compared to the PC.

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Old 02-12-2012, 01:39 PM
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Default Re: Leigh Dovetail Jig Resurrection

We will see the completed box... right Jim?
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Old 02-12-2012, 03:27 PM
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Default Re: Leigh Dovetail Jig Resurrection

I love my Lie Nielsen chisel plane! I bought it used in like new condish and you very often see them up for sale. I can't understand why, I use mine all the time.
I will post pictures when completed. I was hoping to start finish today but had an unfortunate accident with the lid where the brass screw snapped off in the hinge despite my predrilling (I forgot to lube). Anyhoo, I bungled it up while trying to extract so alas, I have to fabricate a new one.
I was able to save the book matched panel as I hadn't pinned it yet.

Last edited by JimKirkpatrick; 02-12-2012 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 02-12-2012, 03:50 PM
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Default Re: Leigh Dovetail Jig Resurrection

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigfoot View Post

Anyone else have more input on the Leigh or Porter Cable's current crop of jigs?
I bought a D4R Pro and an FMT a few months ago. I haven't got them set up yet (of course ), I got them now so that I could design a dedicated bench for them. I'm putting it upstairs to save ground floor space, plus the ability to have a slot in the floor to allow the jigs to be placed lower while still accomodating just about any length of material.

Jim, very nice work on that box.


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