Submitted By: Shaun Guthrie @caskwoodworking
Starting this year, I want to up my woodworking game with the ability to cut dovetails. I know some people may look down upon those who use a dovetail jig, however as a hobbyist woodworker I don’t have the time at this point in my life to cut dovetails by hand. Having said that, I do want to learn how to cut dovetails by hand later in life.
To level set, I approached this review having never used a dovetail jig, nor having experience cutting dovetails. Having said that, from the time I unboxed the jig to my first cuts it was roughly 90 minutes, it was probably less but I wasn’t keeping track with a stop watch. When unboxed this jig came fully assembled (with the exception one of the side stops fell off) and just needed the clamp bars to be installed. While this jig can be permanently mounted to a flat surface, I opted to use the Bessy Table Clamps which provided more than enough clamping pressure to ensure no movement of the jig.
Setup of the jig was super easy as Busy Bee Tools created an almost flawless instructional video to reference in addition to the instruction manual. This is key as there are no other videos online that go over this detail for setup. My only criticism was setting up the side stops and not having a setup bar to properly set them. They indicate you can use a ruler however ensuring the side stops are square takes a bit of effort as this is an important step. Other than that, the setup was simple and easy.
After setup, I was able get my test pieces of plywood into the jig, lined up and ready to cut. I thought at this point there had to be more to this than that. However, after double and triple checking I was good to go. Cutting was the easiest part as you just follow the jig and both boards are cut at the same time to ensure proper alignment. After reviewing my cuts, I found the pins I cut were too big and wouldn’t fit, and sure enough the video explained this and after a slight adjustment to my dovetail bit I was able to recut and the joint fit snug. Capacities for this dovetail jig are 12” wide (as the title suggests) and 5/16” to 1 1/14’ thick material. The capacities here for the price are decent as I don’t envision cutting anything larger at this point in time. The cost of the device currently on the Busy Bee website is $99.00 and is a very low cost of entry.
Features on this Dovetail Jig that I liked were:
- Pre-assembled device right out of the box
- Easy to use clamps which do a great job holding the material
- Small enough to clamp down anywhere in the shop. Shops with limited space would appreciate this
- Cost of entry is low which makes cutting dovetails affordable
- Great instructional video which gets you up and running quickly
Cutting dovetails twill take some practice and even with a jig I don’t expect perfect dovetails right out of the gate. I’ll head over to the Home Depot and buy some cheap lumber to continue practicing and perfecting this jig. I don’t recommend using plywood however it was all I had at the time.
Disclaimer – This jig was provided to me by Busy Bee Tools for reviewing its use.
For a quick 3-minute video showcasing the unboxing, setup and cutting of dovetails check out: