As most of you know, dovetail joints are one of the "classics" of box joinery, owing to their strength, beauty, and durability. A short while back on the Rockler blog, we hailed dovetail joinery using the Rockler Dovetail Jig as one of a couple of techniques for joining drawer box members that have an all-important triad of things going for them: they produce professional quality joints; they can be mastered in an afternoon; they don't call for a home equity loan to get set up (if you missed it, read Drawer Box Joinery Tips for the details).
Now - to make matters even easier - here's a new Rockler jig that eliminates any remaining elements of "guesswork" from the dovetail method. Introduced a few days ago, the Rockler Dovetail Setup Jig gives you a sure-fire method for positioning the height of the dovetail router bit and for setting the depth of the dovetail jig's fence. Here's how it works:
If you've ever made dovetail joints with a router and dovetail jig, you know that the height of the bit determines the fit of the joint. If the bit's too high, there's slop in the joint; if it's too low, the parts won't fit together. You also know that the dovetail jig's fence determines the depth of the joint, and has to be positioned to the correct depth for the material you're using and the joint depth you're after. It's not impossible to make these two crucial settings using a ruler or a combination square. It takes a little practice, but with experience, you get faster. If there's a problem, it's that these two set-up procedures can add a few moments of "hassle" to the otherwise blissfully simple process of using the dovetail jig to make perfect joints one after another.
That's where the Dovetail Setup Jig comes in. This handy little gadget whittles the bit height and jig fence set-up time down to a few seconds. To set the bit height, you simply plunk the setup jig down on the router base and raise the bit height until it bottoms out in the jig. That's it, you're done. To set the dovetail jig's fence, you position the setup jig's depth gauge to the correct depth, set it on the dovetail jig and butt the fence up to it. Formulas for the correct fence settings are printed right on the jig, so there's no head-scratching, digging for instructions, or unwanted thinking involved. If you're the type who likes to speed through the set-up and get to the fun part, make this modest addition to your tool collection - you'll thank yourself every time you use you dovetail jig.