A new router dovetail jig from Prazi USA called the ChestMate boasts several clever features. As its name would imply, the ChestMate is best doing dovetail joints for chests and similar large casework. The small unit is designed to clamp to the workpiece rather than trying to clamp the workpiece in a stationary jig. It will handle unlimited stock width and variable spacing of through dovetails in stock thicknesses from 1/2 to 1 inch.
How it works
Like most router dovetail jigs, this one takes some time to prepare before you can cut joints. But the setup for this jig is not so much about securing a good fit as it is about creating an indexing board for accurate spacing.
The jig is designed to cut one tail or matching pin socket at a time. Accuracy comes from indexing boards with 1/8-inch slots that you cut with your standard table saw blade. The jig keys to the slots and is moved to a new slot for each cut. So, before you can cut joints, you've got to cut indexing boards. Of course, once they've been cut, you can save them and reuse them for future identical setups.
First you cut the tail boards, using a standard router with 3/4-inch 14-degree dovetail bit (an option is available for a 5/8-inch 7-degree bit). A 5/8-inch guide bushing (not supplied) is required for your router to follow the jig. After each cut, you unclamp and move the jig to a new index slot until the board is cut.
You follow a similar procedure with the pin boards. An adjustable pin pattern slips into the jig, and there are instructions on how to make a test cut for a precise fit. The final step is to use the jig to clean out pin board ends and wider spacing sections if you elected to use irregular tail spacings.
Who is it for?
If you are doing chests and big casework with irregular through dovetail spacings, it offers an accurate and economical (under $100) alternative. For more information, circle 251 on the Reader Service Card in this issue or visit www.praziusa.com.
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