Dovetailing Jig Quality

Woodworkers discuss experiences with various dovetailing jigs. June 12, 2006

I am very close to getting a 24" P/C Omnijig Dovetailing machine for a new line of products which will entail making a long series of dovetails. The question I pose to you all is this the one to go with or is there another manufacturer that you feel is better and why?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor C:
I've had the PC 24" Omnijig for about 15 years and wouldn't bother with others. I find it very well made and reliable, and I use it a lot. It still looks the same today as when I bought it. It's a real tank.

From contributor F:
The omni jigs are a solid tool. I too have had one a couple of decades and it still works perfect. From what I have read on these forums, it seems to be by far the one that takes the least "fiddling around" to make the setup. I use mine exclusively for half blind dovetails in 1/2" material. I have learned to use mine on baltic birch material with no tearout. I also use solid wood.

From contributor J:
I've used an omni-jig for maybe 10 years and loved it for all of them until I started doing a lot of drawers – 100 plus a month and then I found the clamps weren't as friendly to my hands as they use to be. I purchased a Dodds se-1 two plus years ago and wondered how I ever live without it.
Half the production time and pneumatic clamps equals no more sore hands and a perfect joint every time. Yes the cost is more but you get what you pay for, it might be worth looking into if you’re doing a lot of drawers or boxes.

From contributor A:
I have an Omnijig too that I have used to dovetails thousands of drawers. But I have always had a problem with my drawer material moving around in the jig, especially the top (the front/back part of the drawer). I tighten the cams until the pins shear right off. Right now I find myself having to clamp the parts with additional pony clamps. It’s time consuming to say the least.

I also break a lot of bits. They are breaking right where the shaft exits the router collet. I'd say once every 10-20 drawers. Yes, there is that much variation. I know the bits aren't dull because they keep breaking. They have a 1/4 shank. I am sure they make one with a 1/2 shank, but my local dealer doesn't carry them.

From contributor J:
Yes over the years I also have replaced the pins but just once with a good quality hardened steel pin, and they do make 1/2" dovetail bits, 4 times the shank diameter. Try ordering one from a dealer on this site or search the net. I wouldn't say I've never snapped a 1/2" shank bit, but I've never snapped a 1/2" shank dovetail bit, they usually run till dull. I find all 1/2" shanks cost a little more but they're a lot safer.

From contributor F:
When I first got my Omni jig I snapped the 1/4" shank bit. Immediately bought 1/2" shank carbide bits and never had that problem again.

On the part slippage problem; I discovered that the secret is to apply paste wax to cam bodies. Since the cam bodies actually press against the steel pressure bars and not the drawer parts, you can goop them up with wax as much as is necessary and not worry about getting wax on the wood. I also keep the cam bodies smooth and free of rust with a scotch brite pad or fine wet or dry sand paper. So far, I have not broken any parts on the machine.