Lately a lot of questions have been asked about the Leigh Dovetailing Jig.
After reading a lot about it (on the Pond and in woodworking magazines), I
finally bought one at Woodworker's Warehouse. I thought that a tool review
was in order.
You will find, upon opening the box, that the model number D24 Leigh Jig
requires some minor assembly. No special tools are needed for this other
than an adjustable wrench. There are a number of small parts, so be sure to
check that none are missing.
The large manual features pictures and descriptive text that make the
calibration, and first time use somewhat easier than expected. Reviewing the
manual and familiarizing yourself with the symbols would be advisable. While
a video is offered, I chose not to purchase it. I don't have a VCR down in
my shop. I would rather have the ability to flip pages back and forth while
working on the jig.
For adjusting the jig, Leigh has included a special screwdriver and wrench.
Also included are a #80, dovetail bit, and a #140 straight bit. Both of
these are ¼" shank. Note: You will need to have a 7/16" guide bushing for
your router in order to use this jig.
Construction and Assembly
I found the basic construction of the jig to be sturdy, and the anodized
matte finish unscathed by it's time in the box. Many of the small parts are
stamped, but appear to be well constructed. The assembly was completed in
about 20 minutes.
Once the assembly is out of the way, you will probably want to
semi-permanently mount the jig to a 8" wide x 36" long x ¾" thick piece of
hardwood using the (2) ¼"-20 x 4" long toilet bolts that are supplied. The
heads of these will slide into a groove machined into the bottom of the jig.
Once this is done, you can attach the jig to your new hardwood support base.
This will give you a nice wide surface to clamp to your workbench. The
manual also has plans for a dovetailed (what else) box that you can mount
the jig to. This would raise the jig up off of the workbench to a more
Calibration and First time use
Many of you have voiced concerns about the learning curve associated with
this machine. I have to tell you, it is not as bad as all that. The Leigh
D24 did come with a large user's manual which, I admit is somewhat daunting
to look at. Usually it takes me a great deal of self-control to sit down and
read the directions (I am not the most patient person in the world). I like
to pick up a power tool and just start using it. But I managed to take my
time as read through the first part of the manual and proceed with setting
up the jig.
To calibrate the jig for the first time, you will need (2) 6" x 8" x ¾"
square flat pieces of wood. With these, you can set the clamps to the
correct pressure, adjust the positioning hardware, and set the fingers in
place. You will also need a 6" x 23" x ¾" piece of hardwood to use as a
spacer when setting up the jig. Be sure to read and follow the directions
completely. While this entire operation doesn't take long, it is an
Once you completed calibrating the jig, the directions will walk you through
a simple dovetailing procedure. I managed to actually cut a set of near
perfect dovetails the first time out! I was very impressed with the ease of
adjustment of the keys/fingers and the jig's ability to switch from routing
tails to pins (or vice versa).
I would most heartily recommend this jig to all here. It's versatility may
lead you to believe it is too hard to learn to use. But I found this not to
be the case. If I can managed near perfect dovetails on my first trial run,
I believe anyone could!