Leigh Industries, maker of the Leigh jig, was the reason I found myself going to Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, which is just east of Vancouver in Canada. Leigh invited a number of woodworking magazine editors to a 2008 product launch.
No matter how often hand-cut dovetails are discussed, most woodworkers won’t attempt or accomplish this technique. They want a jig to do the job. And, many feel the purchase price of dovetail jigs is a bit limiting. That’s what the product launch was about. Leigh is set to introduce three new versions of their dovetailing jig in July 2007 , all at competitive prices that are well below the current models.
The Leigh Super 12 (12″ cutting length with a MSRP of $199) allows you to produce through dovetails and half-blind dovetails, both variably spaced, as well as sliding dovetails. In addition, box joints in two sizes (5/16″ and 5/8″) can be made. And for the first time with a Leigh jig, you can make half-blind dovetails in a single pass by using a simple spacing attachment and a nylon rod that fishes through the fingers to adjust the depth-of-cut. Both are supplied with any jig.
The Leigh Super 18 (18″ cutting length with a MSRP of $259) has the same features as the 12″ model. However, with this jig you can purchase the finger joint template ($149) to create finger joints (with 1/8″ through 5/8″ fingers) and create the most popular of the Leigh’s Isoloc joints by purchasing the necessary template ($159). This will be the only 18″ dovetail jig on the market, as of posting time.
With the Leigh Super 24 (24″ cutting length with a MSRP of $329) you get the standard dovetail jig package set for 24″ board widths. That’s a savings of $200 in comparison to the Leigh 24″ D4R, the company’s flagship dovetailing jig. And you can create the finger joints (Templates are priced at $169) and all the Leigh Isoloc joints (Templates are priced at $199) with optional purchases.
If you’ve used Leigh jigs before, you know that tweaking the pins and tails is sometimes required to achieve the best fit. With early models, woodworkers had to adjust the bit height to tighten or loosen the fit of the joint. In recent history, Leigh developed a bushing that had a 5Ã?Âº slope on its sides. The adjustment, made in .001″ increments, was achieved by turning the bushing to either increase or decrease the depth of the bushing as it rode along the jig. This bushing continues to be used for all Isoloc joints.
However, the new jigs have a new method for adjusting the fit of the finger joints and the half-blind dovetails. Again it has to do with the bushing, but this time the patented bushing is , wait for it , oval in design. As far as I know this is new to woodworking. Turning the bushing (called the E-Bush with .001″ increments) adjusts the cut , or simply rotate your router-holding position once you’re comfortable with the process.
Additionally, Leigh is introducing the VRS (Vacuum and Router Support), which you’ve probably seen in recent advertising. This attachment, backward compatible with the company’s earlier jigs, is a welcome addition for jig users. Router dust collection is significantly increased while the ability to leave the router positioned on the jig saves you time and wear on your router. The MSRP for the VRS is $65 – $76, depending on the length needed.
By the way, the street price on these new jigs is expected to be, on average, some $20 less per item.
Look for more in-depth information in Popular Woodworking magazine about these jigs when the units are available for review. I’ll point out differences between the old and new jigs, and discuss a few patented accessories Leigh is including with the Super jigs.
In my next blog entry, I’ll give you a behind the scenes look at Leigh Industries including a new machining center, the number of employees that keeps the company running smoothly and possible future growth.
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