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Completed Dovetails
The fit of the completed dovetails is about as good as you'll find. And from beginning to end, routing dovetails in 1/8" to 3/4"-thick stock only takes minutes. > Reviews > Magazine Reviews > Woodsmith, 2004

Find the Keller dovetail jigs at these woodworking trade shows  

Find the Keller dovetail jigs at these woodworking trade shows  

Woodsmith ( reviewed the Keller 1500. This review and illustrations are © 2004 Woodsmith.

Using the Keller Jig

By Woodsmith
Woodsmith, Vol. 26, Issue No. 151, February/March 2004

Whether it's on a small box or a large case piece, no woodworking joint is quite as strong or impressive as a through dovetail. Really the only drawback to this classic joint is that it can be a lot of work to cut and fit accurately. That is, until you try out the Keller Dovetail Jig.

I've found that with this easy-to-use jig you can rout flawless through dovetails in a matter of minutes. With it, an entire project can be completed before you'll even have most other jigs set up.

What's in the box. Some dovetail jigs have a learning curve so steep, you'll almost be discouraged from using them. Not so with the Keller Jig. Mine is the 1500 model and when you open the box, all you'll find is a thick, phenolic template, two router bits with bearing guides (one dovetail and one straight), and the instructions for using the jig.

The comb-like template has back-to-back routing slots. You use the straight slots to cut the tails and flared slots to cut the pins. Since there are no adjustments to make, the setup is quick and easy. All you need to do is mount the template on a clamping block.

Versatile. The Keller system allows you to use either a hand-held router or a router table setup. The router table method can be especially helpful for thin or narrow stock, where the workpiece won't support the weight of the template, block, and router.

Getting started. Routing the dovetails couldn't be easier. For a quick overview of the steps involved see "How-To" below.
How to: Routing the Tails
Start by clamping the workpiece securely in a bench vise. Then place the straight slots of the template over the end of the workpiece so the workpiece edges are evenly spaced between two slots. Clamp the jig in place (Fig. 1 below) and that's all there is to it. Note: Always rout from behind the template, pulling the router into the workpiece.
Routing the tails. With the dovetail bit in the router and set to the proper height, you're ready to make the first cuts. And unlike many dovetail jigs that require a guide bushing, Keller provides a dovetail bit with a bearing that is sized to precisely fit the slot milled in the template. The bearing enters the template effortlessly, with little or no play. The whole operation from clamping to cutting only takes a few minutes.

Mark the pins. Once all the tails are complete, setting up to rout the pins is a snap. If you've ever cut a dovetail by hand the next part will be familiar. That's because you use the fails you've just cut to lay out the pins on the end of the mating piece. A sharp pencil, scribe, or bench knife will do the job.

Rout the pins. When you place the flared slot side of the template over the end of the pin workpiece, it should line up perfectly with you marks. Just take the time to get a good "match" before you clamp the template in place.

Next, you'll use the bearing-guided straight bit, set to the same depth as the dovetail bit, to rout the pins. Note: To save time and ensure accuracy, I like to use two routers – one for each bit setup.

The pin cut takes two passes to cover the full width of the flared template slots. But that's it.

The fit. With just a little bit of firm pressure the two halves of the joint will slide together like a hand in a glove. The joint is as tight as any I've seen and the whole process takes a fraction of the time. It made a true believer out of me.