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Laying out and cutting through dovetails using the AKEDA is about as easy as it gets. Here is the basic procedure:
That's all there is to it. In producing our AKEDA videos, I got to the point where I could setup and machine all four sides of a box in 10 minutes. With one router. Speaking of videos, here is the first draft of our AKEDA Through Dovetail video in Real Media format (Requires Realplayer for Windows or Other Platforms):
Cutting Half-Blind dovetails using the AKEDA is also very simple. The only step I don't like is coming up with filler pieces to fit between widely spaced tail guides. The supplemental manual suggests that you can cut spacers from the plastic sliding dovetail/housed joint template, which is convenient, but perhaps somewhat expensive ($10 per strip) for the long run.
Kevan Lear's response regarding tail guide spacers:
I always use the front guide rail and dispense with the tail guide spacers, ....I have used the jig so much, I can do it by eye. ....someone else suggested making marks on the front of the jig, in line with the tail guides, where you can see them while you're routing. I've tried it and it works well.
I have followed Kevan's procedure and it works. However, if your machining lots of drawers, I recommend that you bite the bullet and cut the spacers.
I typically use half-blind dovetails to join the sides to the front, and through dovetails to join the sides to the back. The beauty of the AKEDA is that you can use the same tail setup for the through and half-blind dovetails. Also, the appearance of the AKEDA-produced half-blind dovetails are more attractive than those produced in our Omnijig.
The process for cutting half-blind dovetails is as follows:
Routing box joints with the AKEDA is very easy to do. My first set of box joints worked perfectly. Routing box joints on the AKEDA is easier than on other dovetail jigs such as the Leigh because you don't have to worry about offsetting mating boards. You place all boards against the end stop, and the standard tail and half-blind pin guide fingers do the rest. Piece of cake really. However, I did run into some problems, and thus have included a few cautions in the text that you must consider. Here is the process I use to cut "uneven" box joints using the AKEDA:
And that is all there is to it. Given the cautions, you should have no problems cutting box joints using the AKEDA. I cut several boxes in less than 1/2 hour. I have not used the equal width box joints method described in the AKEDA user manual. Furthermore, I find the table saw method for cutting box joints is a bit faster and cleaner, but routing box joints on the AKEDA definitely works and does not require any special setup. If you prefer to rout the more traditional "even" fingers, follow the instructions in the AKEDA User Manual.
AKEDA Web Site Resources
||7º Dovetail Bit
||9º Dovetail Bit
||11º Dovetail Bit
||14º Dovetail Bit
||20º Dovetail Bit
||Standard Straight Bit (.315")
||Undersized Straight Bit (.311")
||Oversized Straight Bit (.319")
||Box Joint Bit (.350")
||Nine Piece Bit Set
What is the maximum thickness of stock that can be used with the AKEDA? I believe Leigh handles thicknesses up to 1-1/2".Answer
Work Piece Width Minimum: 1-1/4" (30mm)
Maximum: 16” (400mm)
Work Piece Length Vertical Minimum: 3-1/8" (80mm) Horizontal Minimum: 3-1/2” (90mm) Work Piece Thickness TD pin piece: 1/4" - 3/4” (6,5mm - 19mm)
TD tail piece: 1/4” - 1” (6,5mm - 25mm)
HBD pin piece: 3/8” - 1” (9,5mm - 25mm)
HBD tail piece: 1/4” - 1” (6,5mm - 25mm)
The Leigh might handle 1-1/2" thick workpieces for some operations, but I thought the maximums were 1" to 1-1/4". I have not used it for workpieces thicker than 5/4s. However, I find the Akeda handles a wider range of workpieces than the Leigh, especially on the smaller end of the scale. Since I make lots of boxes, this is an important consideration for me.
The AKEDA booklet that the jig will only work with Akeda (or Akeda approved) cutters. I've since been told that there is no such thing as Akeda approved cutters. It is their cutters or nothing....unless you have them custom made. Is this true?
The AKEDA geometry requires cutters that are uncommon, non-standard diameters and angles, thus you must use AKEDA cutters with the AKEDA DC16. To my knowledge, the router bit manufacturers are not currently producing AKEDA cutters, but I am sure that will change. I have used the Leigh 5/16 straight bit for TDs, and it works, though the joint is a bit on the tight side. In other words, if the cutter is of the right geometry (diameter/angle), it will work with the AKEDA. By the way, AKEDA cutters are reasonably priced and available currently through Woodcraft. Consequently, having a second source is not a big deal for me.
Guide bushings (also known as collars or a guide bush) are extremely versatile and indispensible for many router operations. However, I have learned the hard way that your standard fare bushings are poorly machined. Their tolerances are so wide that the bushing can be as much as .030" out-of-center. For many template operations, you may not notice the out-of-center condition. However, for dovetail routing, an out-of-center bushing can cause all kinds of heartache:
If your dovetail bit is not centered in the guide bushing, you will find it almost impossible to match the top/bottom edges of all four components of a drawer, box, or carcass. Period. The dovetails may go together perfectly, but you'll always have a uneven top/bottom edge. You'll notice that the demo guys never rout an entire drawer or box. They simply do one corner. Sometime ask them to rout all four components and assemble them. I bet, as has been my experience, the finished product will exhibit this problem. (The Keller booth does not have this problem since their bits rely on bearings, not guide bushings.)
If your dovetail bit is not centered in the guide bushing and you're not careful with your router technique (keeping the router faced in the exact same direction through all cuts), you'll end with poorly fitting joints.
To determine whether your bit is centered in the guide bushing, simply lower the bit into the bushing, rotate the bit, and look to see whether the tips of the bit are centered within the bushing for an entire rotation. Or, better yet, make a test cut with your dovetail jig. If the cut is centered between the template fingers, you're good.
Some router bushing systems or router plates allow you to shift the bushing or plate to reduce the out-of-center problem. If not, you might lessen the problem if you rotate the bushing so that the greatest deviation faces away from the jig (towards the operator). Then, make sure you keep the router facing the same direction as you rout the dovetails.
The best bet is to purchase the precisely machined template guide bushings from Leigh or AKEDA.
AKEDA ships precision guide bushings with each jig, including .004" oversize and .004" undersize guide bushings.
The following page provides more information about the AKEDA DC16 and compares it with other popular dovetail jigs
|AKEDA DC16 Review Page 1||AKEDA DC16 Review Page 3|