Like ChestMate, Katie Jig is another unit tailor-made for cutting true variable-spaced through dovetails. You design the pattern by setting and locking nine tuning forks on the bottom of the jig. One side of the forks forms the pins, the other side routs the tails, using piloted straight and dovetail bits that come standard.
Along with the creative potential of this jig, you also have the option of using it either upside down on a router table or bottom-side-up with your handheld router. Those long tuning forks make router table use particularly stable and convenient. Katie Jig will rout workpieces up to 12" wide and 3/4" thick.
You can buy a separate tuning fork/bit package for making box joints or a solid template and “organic” bit for cutting half-blinds. Or combine box and dovetail forks to make a unique hybrid style.
I appreciate the heavy-duty construction of this system. Except for the backup boards, most of the jig is made of thick plate- or extruded aluminum. The integral bar clamps are stout and lock workpieces down securely with big wing knobs. Since the tuning forks move, the backer boards get chewed up fast, but they’re easy to make and replace.
All this said, in testing, the Katie Jig was a bit more difficult to use accurately. It’s imperative that the tuning forks are set and locked squarely against the jig’s body, or the edges of your joints can become misaligned. Same goes with the top-mounted stops; double-check them for square. After some time, I was able to get glue-ready joints, but the process required more test cuts and adjustments than other jigs here.
The manual covers setup and use pretty well, but Marc Sommerfeld just released a new DVD that adds helpful information to it. He also provides some tips on shimming the jig to adjust pin thickness — troubleshooting I needed for the test jig but didn’t find in the manual.
Bottom line: $220 in 2009 buys versatility and rugged construction — both real pluses — but be diligent and patient with your setup process.