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 Manual
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 manageable level.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 important step.
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).Conclusion
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!