Want to add some flair to your half-blinds? Here’s a jig that will make the conventional wedges, as well as key- and heart-shaped joints, just by switching between interchangeable templates. Fast Joint will do through dovetails, too. The company also sells a variety of other templates as accessories to expand the options even further.
Here’s how it all works: the jig consists of an “H”-shaped platform with stops and toggle clamps on each end. Pin and tail templates bolt in place on opposite sides, which also registers their offset. For half-blinds, you cut the joint pins by standing the workpiece against a right-angle fence that clamps to the jig base. The tail slots are milled with the board lying down and clamped. Both pins and tails are cut vertically for through dovetails. All the milling happens on the router table, using guide collars and bits that MLCS supplies with the system. In fact, MLCS provides everything you need — even spring clamps! — for a convenient, all-inone package.
Fast Joint will rout boards up to 14″ wide in stock from 1/4″ to 3/4″ thick; through dovetails are limited to 3/8″ or thinner material.
This jig took me longer to set up and learn than some others. But, its manual is well written and clearly photographed to explain the step-by-step process. Keep it in a safe place for a refresher course if you don’t rout dovetails very often.
Fast Joint worked well for me, because the guide collar and templates minimize the setup variable that could complicate the process. You’ll need to set bit heights carefully, and you may need to make spacer blocks to position workpieces on the jig in order to create a centered pattern.
I wish the templates were made of a more durable material than PVC; they will flex slightly when pressed hard against a guide collar. But that really didn’t impact accuracy or joint fit. All in all, $170 (in 2009) seems a good bargain for a jig that makes four joint styles right out of the box, with a nice bunch of extras.