Best Dovetail Jigs: Reviews and Comparisons of the Tools We Swear By

Last Updated: by Peter Lynn

A good dovetail jig is indispensable in a woodworker’s arsenal. Whether you are making cabinets or furniture, you need a dovetail jig to hold timber vertically, so you can easily cut it using a router.

You would want to scrutinize your choices carefully and pick those that can truly be relied on for such a job. With the best dovetail jig, you can create tails and pins with more accuracy and speed.

However, with the numerous options on the market, it can be overwhelming to pick the right one. If you are looking for the best dovetail jig, we are here to help you. Read on to see our recommendations for the best dovetail jigs.

Our top pick is the General Tools 861 12-Inch Portable Aluminum Dovetail Jig. This is a highly versatile dovetail jig and it comes with three templates that you can use to make all the basic dovetail joints. You can use this unit on your workbench or tabletop. It is highly durable and even a beginner can use it with ease.

The Best Dovetail Jigs Are:

ProductDetails
1. Porter-Cable 4216 Super Jig Dovetail Jig

  • Length: 12 inches
  • Weight: 26.5 pounds
  • Included Templates: 3
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2. Rockler Complete Dovetail Jig

  • Length: 12 inches
  • Included Templates: 1
  • Weight: 24 pounds
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3. Leigh Super 12-Inch Dovetail Jig

  • Length: 12 inches
  • Accessories: 3 router bits
  • Weight: 12.79 pound
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4. Porter-Cable 4212 12-Inch Deluxe Dovetail Jig

  • Length: 12 inches
  • Accessories: 2 router bits and 2 templates
  • Weight: 25 pounds
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5. General Tools 861 12-Inch Portable Aluminum Dovetail Jig

  • Length: 12 inches
  • Accessories: Router bits
  • Weight: 2.94 pounds
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1. Porter-Cable 4216 Super Jig Dovetail Jig

Use this right out of the box. Its single-piece steel base design ensures that there is no need for lengthy and rigorous assembly. You can use it to clamp wood stock with measurements from ¼ inch to 1-1/8 inch in thickness. It has a solid base and durable construction that makes this a sterling choice for more demanding woodworking needs.

Attach stock with ease through its cam-type clamps that are made from heavy-duty materials. The locking bars have sandpaper backing so that it grips the wood better. There are 3 templates included in your purchase. Setting up the templates is easy, thanks to the template alignment lines.

The three templates that come with this unit are template 4211 for rabbeted half-blind, half-blind, and sliding dovetails; template 4213 for through dovetails and box joints; and template 4215 for half-blind dovetails, miniature through, and miniature box joints.

This unit also comes with router bit depth gauges that allow you to set the depth accurately and quickly without taking measurements.

This machine is highly durable, thanks to its aluminum build. The packaging also includes a wrench and two lock nuts, which come in handy. The templates are also made with aluminum to provide you with superior cutting accuracy.

You can use this tool for woodworking, cabinet, and furniture. It also comes with onboard instructions to guide you through the various applications. This tool also comes with a limited 3-year warranty.

It features a single-piece, highly durable steel base design, and you can clamp or bolt the unit to a bench to give you more stability when cutting. This dovetail jig also comes with other accessories to provide you with seamless and quick cutting sessions.

Specs

  • Length: 12 inches
  • Weight: 26.5 pounds
  • Included Templates: 3

Pros

  • This is an ideal choice for beginners as it is easy to set up.
  • The single-piece steel base design makes way for easier and more seamless assembly.
  • You can clamp it directly to a tabletop or a workbench.
  • This dovetail jig is backed by a 3-year warranty.
  • Beginners can use this tool with ease.

Cons

  • You might have difficulties in creating joints with flush edges.

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2. Rockler Complete Dovetail Jig

Versatility is one of the strongest suits of this dovetail jig. What makes this different from all others is its phenolic templates made from durable materials. Aside from the templates, your purchase includes 3 8mm shank router bits, a collet adapter, guide bushing, and an instruction booklet.

It weighs 24 pounds, which might be a bit heavy for some but if you are looking for more weight so the dovetail is more stable, this should be an ideal choice. The manufacturers of this dovetail jig designed it for the most common joint cutting tasks, which means you can use it to perform a wide range of tasks.

You can use this tool to cut stock that is 11 inches or less in width and from 0.5 to 0.75 inches thick when cutting through joints or half-blind. This is also a great option for those that do not need to cut unusual dovetail joints or oversized wood pieces.

One of the major reasons why users love this unit is that it is very easy and quick to set up. It is also very easy to use. It comes with preset stop positions for the possible sizes of stock you are likely to cut.

This unit is on the higher end of the price spectrum, but it is a great value for money. It is one of the best dovetail jigs on the market and it comes with several great features to enhance your woodworking skills.

The clamping bars of this machine are made with an abrasive surface that holds stock better. This dovetail jig is not as versatile as the Porter-Cable, as it comes with only one template; and this limits your cutting to only through and half-blind dovetail joints.

Specs

  • Length: 12 inches
  • Included Templates: 1
  • Weight: 24 pounds

Pros

  • This unit has a solid construction.
  • The parts won’t break easily and even if it did, you can get the help of the manufacturing company.
  • It is very easy to use.
  • It is one of the most affordable options on our list
  • Many people commend its dust collection system.

Cons

  • The setup and assembly might be a bit more tedious than some people expect.
  • Some also said they had to replace the collet reducer because of its quality.

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3. Leigh Super 12-Inch Dovetail Jig

Never produce poorly-made joints ever again. This versatile and accommodating dovetail jig is capable of holding up to 12 inches of wood. This dovetail jig has variable spacing and it can accommodate making half-blind dovetails.

The one-piece fingers are completely adjustable. If there is a joint pattern you want to accomplish, you can easily do so with its easy positioning system.

You can get the depth cut you prefer and use different bits. You can choose from the included half-blind bits and opt for the depth you prefer for your specific project.

What makes this dovetail jig stand out from the rest is its Leigh E-bush, a revolutionary system that is unique to this machine. You can make adjustments with the utmost precision. You can use this tool to make almost any type of dovetail joints, thanks to its versatility.

Not only does this unit accept stocks up to 12 inches wide, but it also comes with three different router bits for you to cut them. This machine is dubbed one of the most versatile dovetail jigs out there because of its infinitely adjustable one-piece fingers.

With this tool, you can make box joints and simple sliding joints with minimal effort. This is the number one choice of many woodworkers because it does not limit them to one depth or one-bit cut. This feature alone makes this unit a great addition to the toolbox of any woodworker.

It also comes with some clamps. The clamps are easy to use and they help to create more stability to increase your cutting precision. This dovetail jig is also pricey, but it is worth investing in. The package also includes 1/2-inch – 8mm collet reducer, sliding dovetail fence, an illustrated user manual, half-blind bridge piece, and an instructional DVD.

Specs

  • Length: 12 inches
  • Accessories: 3 router bits
  • Weight: 12.79 pounds

Pros

  • It features solid construction
  • The guides are made from aluminum material mixed with ABS plastic.
  • It can accommodate half-blind, rabbeted, sliding, decorative, and asymmetric dovetails.
  • It has an instructional DVD and a manual to show you how it works.
  • Set-up is a cinch, according to some users.

Cons

  • It is quite expensive for a dovetail jig.

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4. Porter-Cable 4212 12-Inch Deluxe Dovetail Jig

If you get this dovetail jig, you will get a 4211 template to make your half-blind, sliding, and rabbeted half-blind jigs. It also includes a 4213 to create box joints and through dovetails. You can set up the alignments with ease, thanks to its template alignment lines. You can tweak the set-up and the depth to correspond to your specific needs

This comes with detailed instructions on how to use it so even newbies will be able to get started in using this without a lot of work and assembly. It is a durable tool that you can rely on for different projects and subject to a lot of wear and tear without issues.

This would be a great addition to your workshop and it is one of the most affordable options on our list. It features a great construction with a single-piece, durable steel base.

You can clamp or bolt this machine to your workbench, making it more convenient to use. This unit can handle stocks that are between 0.25 to 1.125 inches in thickness.

This unit is also very quick and easy to set up, thanks to its router bit depth gauges and template alignment aids. With the depth gauges, you no longer need to make measurements, which means increased speed in your projects.

This tool comes with two CNC machined aluminum templates. Template 4213 is for box joints and through dovetails while template 4211 is for rabbeted half-blind, half-blind, and sliding dovetails.

The Porter-Cable 4212 also comes with a non-sliding clamp surface that stops the wood from moving when making cuts. It also features onboard instructions to guide you through the various applications.

Specs

  • Length: 12 inches
  • Accessories: 2 router bits and 2 templates
  • Weight: 25 pounds

Pros

  • It is heavy-duty and can handle demanding tasks
  • Assembly does not take a long time. You can use it right out of the box.
  • It comes with everything you need.
  • It has many adjustable features, great for making different dovetails and joints.
  • This unit comes with a 3-year limited warranty.
  • It is a lot less expensive than other jigs.

Cons

  • There were just some people who said they had issues with the alignment.

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5. General Tools 861 12-Inch Portable Aluminum Dovetail Jig

The last dovetail jig on this guide is the General Tools 861 Portable Aluminum Dovetail Jig. This is a 12-inch dovetail jig that is ideal for furniture building, woodworking, and cabinet making.

It also comes with router bits to make this process easier. If you are looking for a budget-friendly dovetail jig that can make precise joints or you are a novice, this tool is made for you.

It comes with single-piece aluminum construction with high resistance to corrosion. This helps to extend the service life of this machine. We also love the fact that this tool comes with a 1/2-inch 14-degree router bit that you can use with a table or hand router. This tool can handle the basic through and half-blind dovetail joints.

Rather than steel, this unit comes with aluminum construction. Another fascinating feature of this dovetail jig is its self-aligning feature. This feature really comes in handy, especially for beginners. This feature helps to eliminate worries about messing up with the wood as long as you follow the outline with your router.

Compared to other dovetail jigs within this range, this tool is more lightweight. This makes it much easier for beginners to use. It is also very portable and you can transport it with ease. The General Tools 861 is ready for use right out-of-the-box.

It can handle boards of any width and you can easily adjust the interference of the dovetail to create tight or loose joints. With the integrated clamps of this unit, you can clamp it securely to your workbench. This would provide you with a more sturdy and stable device when making cuts.

Specs

  • Length: 12 inches
  • Accessories: Router bits
  • Weight: 2.94 pounds

Pros

  • It is super lightweight, portable, and very easy to transport.
  • It guarantees efficient cutting, thanks to its double-sided design
  • It is highly versatile and very easy to use
  • It comes with integrated clamps for high stability
  • You do not need to break the bank to purchase this product

Cons

  • It does not always deliver in some joints

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Which One Should You Get?

Great For Beginners: Porter-Cable 4216 Super Jig Dovetail Jig

If you are an adventurous beginner, you will definitely find this tool very useful. For its price, it is packed with some great features that can make cabinetry and any kind of woodwork a lot easier.

Value For Your Money: Rockler Complete Dovetail Jig

You do not need to spend so much money to get a reliable dovetail jig – not when you can get this one from Rockler. It has everything you need to get started. It is also packed with features that come handy when it comes to creating well-made dovetails.

Perfect For Professionals: Leigh Super 12-Inch Dovetail Jig

If you are a professional who wants to produce a wide range of joints, this will definitely serve you well. It has a lot of flexibility, thanks to its adjustable features. It is also quite durable and has a nice and solid design that will make this easy to use.

Affordable Dovetail Jig: Porter-Cable 4212 12-Inch Deluxe Dovetail Jig

If you are looking for a more affordable dovetail jig, set your sights on this one. Although it is less expensive than the others are, it still delivers the features you can find in the more expensive models.

Lightweight And Ease Of Use: General Tools 861 12-Inch Portable Aluminum Dovetail Jig

If you are looking for a super lightweight dovetail jig that is very easy to use, then you might want to consider this option. It weighs less than 3 pounds and it is highly versatile.

What To Look For In A Dovetail Jig

If you want to gain more confidence in buying a dovetail jig, here are a few more things you need to look for:

Templates

What are the templates included in your purchase? Ideally, you would want it to have basic templates. These templates should be easy to install. They should also be made from durable materials that are not susceptible to damages, so you will be able to use them for a long time.

Oftentimes, people experience inaccuracy in using the templates and this is where the problem lies in creating joints that fit.

Variable or Fixed Template?

Fixed Template

The conventional fixed templates feature one-piece aluminum construction and they require minimal setup. They will provide you with strong and even joints, but it would be obvious that they are machined.

Variable Template

Variable templates come with movable guide fingers that allow you to modify both the spacing and width of the tails. With a variable template, you can create amazing joints that look hand-made. However, you would be paying more, as they are more expensive than fixed templates.

Adjustable Features

Features that allow you to adjust the settings of the dovetail jig are good. These features ensure that you are getting the right settings that will work for the design you have in mind.

If you have a specific joint design that you want to accomplish and no template will accommodate that, you can use this feature to accomplish what you want.

Durable Base

Since you will be using it for cutting purposes, it is important that the machine is durable. Look for a jig that has a durable base that is capable of withstanding wear and tear.

It should be able to last for a long time even when subjected to damages. The base should also be stable and solid so that you can accomplish those tasks easily.

Portability and Weight

Two other vital factors you need to consider before buying a dovetail jig are portability and weight. Dovetails jigs that are lighter are easier to clamp to the workbench. However, there is always some sort of compromise between portability and weight.

Steel-made dovetail jigs are weightier while those made with aluminum are more durable and portable. Hence, you need to consider what you need before making a choice.

Clamps

Look for one with a strong clamp mechanism. It should be able to grasp the wood effectively so that it does not slip.

Warranty

Make sure it is backed by a long warranty. A long warranty means if there are problems with the machine, it will be fixed by the manufacturer.

You can also get a replacement with the help of the warranty. Some manufacturers even include a maintenance guarantee. They can maintain the dovetail jig if there are parts that wear out.

Price

Compare prices. Look for those that have a reasonable and accessible price tag and one that fits your budget well.

Manual

One of the things that people complain about when it comes to the dovetail jigs out there is insufficient manuals. There are those who are using these tools for the first time, so it is important that it comes with a manual that will include detailed instructions on how to use it.

Some manufacturers even include instructional videos, so you can learn how to set it up and use it effectively.

Versatility

Another crucial factor to consider when shopping for a dovetail jig is versatility. However, this depends on the kind of projects you want to use the tool for. The versatility of the machine has to do with the kind of joints the tool can cut.

The best dovetail jig is capable of making all dovetail joints ranging from half-blind, through, variable, and sliding joints. The most versatile options are those that you can use to make a wide range of cuts. As such, you want to consider the versatility of the machine before making your final decision.

Assembly

Pick one that is easy to assemble. You do not want those that take hours just to set up. You would want something that you can use right out of the box or will require minimal assembly.

Conclusion

These are the things you need to keep in mind. To complete your woodworking arsenal, head to our homepage and find out what other tools you can add to your equipment. Check out our buying guides and product reviews to be guided on which ones to buy.

Our top pick for the best dovetail jig is the General Tools 861 12-Inch Portable Aluminum Dovetail Jig because it is very easy to use, it comes with three templates, it works with a workbench or tabletop, and it is highly versatile.