10 Best Dovetail Jig | Tips For Choosing a Dovetail Jig

Best Dovetail Jig

What is a dovetail jig and how does it work?

A dovetail jig is an essential tool in every DIY woodworker’s shed.

A dovetail jig is a device that holds a piece of wood or board in a vertical position so you can cut a dovetail joint using a router. It works by sandwiching the wood between a metal template that allows you to make repetitive cuts with precision and accuracy.

A dovetail jig is the best tool to create joints that fit together at a 90-degree angle. With zero mechanical fasteners, these finger-like joints provide you with a strong fit and a smooth finish. It finishes the job in just three easy steps: choosing the template, holding the wood in place, and cutting it – all within just a fraction of the time it takes to do the same process by hand.

Editor's Prime Choice: Top 3 Dovetail Jig

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Porter Cable Dovetail Jig 4216

Durable single-piece steel base, Heavy duty cam-type clamps with sandpaper-backed locking bars.

Weight: 26.4 lbs.
Color: Gray
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Leigh Dovetail Jig D4R 24-inch

One-piece aluminum extrusion base, Machined-in non-marring textured clamping surfaces.

Weight: 22.1 lbs.
Color: Silver
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Leigh Dovetail Jig Super 18-inch

Infinitely adjustable one-piece fingers, Accepts boards up to 18 inches.

Weight: 16.7 lbs.
Color: Silver

Best Dovetail Jig: A Compact Guide for Choosing the Right Dovetail Jig

Good dovetail joints are the mark of a true craftsman. But carving them by hand will take a lot of time and often yields sloppy results. If you want quality woodwork, your best option is to invest in the best dovetail jig.

Dovetail jigs are capable of creating accurate joints with intense precision. Whether it’s constructing boxes or building sturdy furniture – they provide the everyday woodworker with repeatability and interchangeability for all kinds of products. Dovetail jigs have two primary functions: a holder to keep the work in place and a guide for the router.

Ready to start cutting? Here is our list of the top 10 dovetail jigs on the market, as well as a complete guide for the first-time buyer.

What is the best dovetail jig?

We have researched a couple of dovetail jigs, from different types to standard features comparison- here are the top ten dovetail jigs:

Quick Comparison of 10 Vital Dovetail Jigs

ProductKey SpecificationsMore Info
Porter Cable Dovetail Jig 4216

Porter Cable Dovetail Jig 4216

Weight:  26.4 pounds
Dimensions:  22.25 x 11.75 x 10.38 inches
Color:  Gray
Warranty:  1 year limited warranty
Price
Leigh Dovetail Jig D4R 24-inc

Leigh Dovetail Jig D4R 24-inc

Weight:  22.1 pounds
Dimensions:  8.3 x 8.4 x 36.6 inches
Color:  Silver
Warranty:  1 year limited warranty
Price
Leigh Dovetail Jig Super 18-in

Leigh Dovetail Jig Super 18-in

Weight:  16.71 pounds
Dimensions:  31.75 x 8.2 x 8.3 inches
Color:  Silver
Warranty:  1 year limited warranty
Price
Leigh Super 12 Dovetail Jig

Leigh Super 12 Dovetail Jig

Weight:  14.15 pounds
Dimensions:  25.5 x 8.3 x 8 inches
Color:  Silver
Warranty:  1 year limited warranty
Price
Porter Cable Dovetail Jig 4212

Porter Cable Dovetail Jig 4212

Weight:  25 pounds
Dimensions:  22.9 x 140.67 x 11.4 inches
Color:  Silver
Warranty:  1 year limited warranty
Price
Porter Cable Dovetail Jig 4210

Porter Cable Dovetail Jig 4210

Weight:  26.4 pounds
Dimensions:  22.25 x 11.75 x 10.38 inches
Color:  Gray
Warranty:  1 year limited warranty
Price
General Tools Dovetail Jig 861

General Tools Dovetail Jig 861

Weight:  2.94 pounds
Dimensions:  12 x 3 x 3 inches
Color:  Gold
Warranty:  -
Price
Woodstock Dovetail Jig D2796

Woodstock Dovetail Jig D2796

Weight:  20 pounds
Dimensions:  0.98 x 0.98 x 4.02 inches
Color:  Blue
Warranty:  -
Price
Rockler Dovetail Jig

Rockler Dovetail Jig

Weight:  26.4 pounds
Dimensions:  22.25 x 11.75 x 10.38 inches
Color:  Black
Warranty:  1 year limited warranty
Price
Keller Dovetail Jig 135-2200

Keller Dovetail Jig 135-2200

Weight:  3 pounds
Dimensions:  30 x 6.4 x 1.6 inches
Color:  Gray
Warranty:  1 year limited warranty
Price

Top Picks: 10 Best Dovetail Jig Review

Here we have reviewed the ultimate ten dovetail jig for that will help to pick the right one for you.

1. Porter Cable Dovetail Jig 4216

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Weight: 26.4 lbs.
Color: Gray
Dimensions: 22.25 x 11.75 x 10.38 inches

Major Features
  • Durable single-piece steel base
  • Heavy-duty cam-type clamps with sandpaper-backed locking bars
  • Three machined aluminium templates: half-blind, sliding, through, box, miniature
  • Router bit depth gauge

One of the most intimidating parts of using a dovetail jig, especially for beginners, is setting it up. To address this problem, the Porter-Cable dovetail jig 4216 comes to you fully assembled so that you don’t have to waste too much time looking for and assembling parts.

It also comes with router bit gauges that allow you to set up your cuts without having to take manual measurements. All it requires is just three simple steps – line it up, lock it down, and start cutting.

We highly recommend this dovetail jig for the woodworker who works on a wide variety of different projects. The 4216 Porter Cable dovetail jig comes with three different templates that can be flipped over to cut six types of dovetail joints, including half-blind dovetails, through dovetails, and box joints. It also includes miniature box joints for smaller and more intricate projects.

This jig’s single-piece steel design provides a durable base for the rest of the parts. For a more firm grip, it features heavy-duty cam-type clamps with sandpaper-backed locking bars. It’s versatile enough to accommodate stock from 1/4 to 1-1/8 inches thick. As an added feature for superior cutting accuracy, this jig comes with machined aluminium templates and router bit depth gauge.

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2. Leigh Dovetail Jig D4R Pro 24-inch

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Weight: 22.1 lbs.
Color: Silver
Dimensions: 8.3 x 8.4 x 36.6 inches

Major Features
  • One-piece aluminum extrusion base
  • Machined-in non-marring textured clamping surfaces
  • Top and front side stops
  • Adjustable guide fingers
  • Cam action clamps
  • Accepts boards up to 24 inches wide and 1-1/4 inches thick

One of the major factors that you should look for in a good Leigh dovetail jig is the capacity of wood it can handle. And the Leigh D4R Pro Dovetail Jig will help you create larger products because it’s built to hold boards up to 24 inches wide.

Its heavy duty capacity is further enhanced by providing a thickness range of up to 1-1/4 inches – great for heavy-set projects like cabinets and shelves.

The Leigh D4R pro Dovetail Jig also offers a lot when it comes to versatility. It’s capable of producing perfect fitting joints because it comes with an adjustable guide finger system. This allows you to create a variety of dovetail patterns simply by a simple tweak of the built-in adjustment.

We highly recommend this jig for beginners because of its easy to use a design featuring a tool-free clamping system. At the heart of this system is spring-loaded clamping bars that hold the wood in place for easier router cutting.

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3. Leigh Dovetail Jig Super 18-inch

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Weight: 16.71 lbs.
Color: Silver
Dimensions: 31.75 x 8.2 x 8.3 inches

Major Features
  • Infinitely adjustable one-piece fingers
  • Accepts boards up to 18 inches
  • Three router bits
  • Leigh E-bush system
  • Joint production: 5/16 inches and 5/8 inches

Tired of jigs that produce inconsistent results? Then the Leigh Super 18-inch Dovetail Jig is the solution for you.

Its standout feature is its adjustable one-piece fingers that can easily be positioned in various ways for any joint pattern. As a result, you are capable of creating an infinite number of designs. Aside from versatility, this jig also offers a lot when it comes to precision. With every cut, this tool guarantees an even half pin at the edge of the joint – no matter the width or thickness of the board.

This dovetail jig will accept boards that are up to 18 inches wide and includes router bit options for cutting them. Its modern technology features the Leigh E-bush – a system makes precise adjustments for joint fit.

This includes a pin wrench and locking nut for easier change of settings. To keep your work firmly in place, this jig comes with aluminium clamp bars against a non-slip surface. The Leigh Super 18-inch Dovetail Jig can produce two sizes of joints: 5/16 inches and 5/8 inches.

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4. Leigh Super 12 Dovetail jig

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Weight: 14.15 lbs.
Color: Silver
Dimensions: 25.5 x 8.3 x 8 inches

Major Features
  • Infinitely adjustable one-piece fingers
  • Accepts boards up to 12 inches
  • Three router bits
  • Leigh E-bush system
  • Joint production: 5/16 inches and 5/8 inches

Almost identical to the 18-inch model, the Leigh Super 12-inch Dovetail Jig gives you quality woodwork in a lightweight and portable size.

Its metal alloy and aluminium build are strong enough to withstand high-pressure router but remain compact enough to carry around from workplace to workplace.

With infinitely adjustable one-piece fingers, you can easily position the board to customize any design you want and almost every kind of dovetail joint, even the half-blind joint.

This jig is highly versatile for all sorts of operations but also produces an accurate precision that stands out from other jigs on this list. It accepts boards that are up to 12 inches wide and comes with three router bits for cutting.

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5. Porter Cable Dovetail Jig 4212 Deluxe, 12-Inch

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Weight: 25 lbs.
Color: Silver
Dimensions: 22.9 x 140.67 x 11.4 inches

Major Features
  • One-piece steel base
  • CNC machined aluminium templates
  • Accommodates stock from 1/4 inches to 1-1/8 inch thick
  • Template alignment lines
  • Router bit depth gauges
  • Heavy-duty cam-type clamps
  • Sandpaper-backed locking bars

The Porter Cable dovetail jig 4212 main highlight is its attention to user safety and comfort. To prevent slipping accidents, this jig features heavy duty cam-type clamps coupled with sandpaper backed locking bars on the surface so that wood stays in place while cutting.

This porter cable dovetail jig also allows it to clamp or bolt directly to the workbench or table so you can work comfortably for hours.

This jig comes in an easy-to-use design to save you both the time and hassle of setting up your workstation.

Its single-piece steel base comes fully assembled while other smaller parts, like the template alignment lines and router bits, allow quick and easy setup.

Another notable feature on this jig is the router bit depth gauges that allow you to easily set the depth without having to take manual measurements – ensuring accurate joint sizes and spacing every time. The templates are made of aluminium, making them both lightweight and durable enough to handle numerous projects.

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6. Porter Cable Dovetail Jig 4210

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Weight: 16.71 lbs.
Color: Gray
Dimensions: 31.75 x 8.2 x 8.3 inches

Major Features
  • Accommodates stock up to 12 inches width and 1-1/8 inch thickness
  • Includes 4211 templates for half-blind and sliding dovetail joints
  • Heavy-duty cam-type clamps
  • Sandpaper-backed locking bars
  • Machined aluminium template
  • Router bit depth gauges

Of all the models from PORTER-CABLE on this list, the Porter Cable Dovetail Jig 4210 is the most basic one. Unlike the other jigs of the same brand on this list, it only cuts half blind and sliding dovetails. But what it lacks in versatility, it definitely makes up in terms of long term durability.

Majority of the parts including the base are made of heavy duty steel, so you are guaranteed that this jig will last for years without having to buy replacement parts or having to worry about ordinary wear and tear.

Its basic design is intended to cater to beginner woodworkers. The router bit depth gauges allow you to quickly and accurately set the depth without having to take measurements.

And because it makes near-perfect half blind and sliding dovetail joints, it’s an excellent tool to use when attaching legs to a table or fastening together the sides of a drawer.

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7. General Tools Dovetail Jig: 861 Portable Aluminum Dovetail Jig, 12-inch

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Weight: 2.94 lbs.
Color: Gold
Dimensions: 12 x 3 x 3 inches

Major Features
  • Infinitely adjustable one-piece fingers
  • Accepts boards up to 12 inches
  • Three router bits
  • General Tools portable aluminium

With a maximum board width of 12 inches, the general tools dovetail jig is a great option for smaller sized projects like boxes and drawers.

Both the spacing and width of the tail are fully adjustable so it’s capable of creating a wide variety of joint designs. With a one-finger assembly system, you this jig produces pins that are all the same width for a more firm and smooth fit.

If most of the projects you make use half blind dovetails, then you should consider the General Tools 12-inch Dovetail Jig. Similar to the Leigh D4R, this jig can cut half-blind dovetails with variable spacing. To improve the cutting process, it added a faster procedure of cutting equally spaced dovetails in both the tail and pin boards.

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8. Woodstock Dovetail Jig: D2796 12-Inch Dovetail Jig with Aluminum Template

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Weight: 20 lbs.
Color: Blue
Dimensions: 0.98 x 0.98 x 4.02 inches

Major Features
  • One-piece aluminium extrusion base
  • Machined-in non-marring textured clamping surfaces
  • Top and front side stops
  • Adjustable guide fingers
  • Cam action clamps
  • Accepts boards up to 12 inches wide and 1/2 inches thick

The 12-inch Woodstock dovetail jig is the Leigh brand’s flagship model – and it’s easy to see why. This compact jig provides you with an all-in-one guide to producing joints with seamless, hand-crafted quality. The set up is made easy with mounting hardware already assembled.

This jig gives you a firm hold of the board, regardless of width, by using a combination of three cutters, cam-action speed clamps, a cross cut bar, and an angled side stop.

While it may look flimsy at first glance, this jig accept boards up to 12 inches wide and 1/2 inches thick – making it a recommended choice for larger projects like cabinets and shelves. Another notable feature is the adjustable guide fingers that provide infinite options for pin and tail spacing. Its versatility allows you to create customized woodwork with a professional look.

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9. Rockler Dovetail Jig: Rockler Complete Dovetail Jig

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Weight: 24 lbs.
Color: Black
Dimensions: 31.75 x 8.2 x 8.3 inches

Major Features
  • Accommodates stock up to 11 inches wide and 1-1/4 inches thick
  • Large 8mm diameter router bits
  • Clamping bars with abrasive surface
  • Preset template and fence locations
  • Depth gauge on template for half-blind joints

Looking for a jig to help you cut high-precision half-blind dovetail joints? The Rockler Complete Dovetail Jig will provide you with all you need.

It’s specially designed to perform the most common joint cutting tasks and is capable of holding stock up to 11 inches wide and 1-1/4 inch thick.

The Rockler Dovetail Jig is limited to two templates: a through and half-blind dovetail joint. But while it lacks versatility, it creates precise and accurate joints for different types of projects. It also comes with other quality components a depth gauge that is preset, a one-piece stop with good offset, and clamping bars with an abrasive surface that firmly holds the board in place.

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10. Keller Dovetail Jig System 135-2200 Journeyman DoveTail Jig Template

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Weight: 3 lbs.
Color: Gray
Dimensions: 30 x 6.4 x 1.6 inches

Major Features
  • Metal and aluminium construction
  • Cam-action clamps and aircraft-grade aluminium clamp bars
  • Infinitely adjustable one-piece fingers
  • Three router bits
  • Leigh E-bush system
  • Joint production: 5/16 inches and 5/8 inches

The last jig on our list is one that is top-notch when it comes to strong build and durability – the Keller Dovetail Jig System. This Jig is built to last for years using construction that combines both metal and aluminium.

Apart from its sturdiness, another feature worth mentioning is its easy adjustment system. It comes with an E-bush feature that allows accurate adjustments with a pin wrench that lets you customize the settings.

A firm grip equals an accurate fit. And to ensure that the board stays in place while you work, the Leigh Super 12 in Dovetail Jig has an added non-slip feature that’s made up of cam action clamps and aircraft-grade aluminium clamp bars.

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Buyer's Guide and FAQ: Everything You Need to Know Before Buying a Dovetail Jig

Now that you’ve seen the best of what the dovetail jig market has to offer, you’re one step closer to finding the right tool for you. But before you cash out, you need to understand the basics of this essential woodworking tool.

From different types to common features – here’s what you need to know before buying a dovetail jig:

Why do I need to invest in a dovetail jig?

1. Beginner Friendly

Crafting a dovetail joint by hand will take expert woodworking skills that require years of trial-and-error. Unfortunately, not all of us have the time or skill to become expert craftsmen. Dovetail jigs will aid the beginner woodworker or DIY homeowner to make projects that both look and feel professional.

2. Safe To Use

The traditional way of hand-cutting a dovetail joint involves using a handsaw and chisel – both sharp tools that put you at risk of accidents. Dovetail jigs come with templates and clamps that are sure to keep your work – and not to mention your fingers – in place.

3. Quicker Work and Increased Productivity

Dovetail jigs are designed to make the process of creating dovetail joints a seamless and effortless process. This tool comes with a pattern for each joint, so you don’t have to manually do the measurements yourself. By holding the wood in place, it allows you to maneuver the router for faster cutting.

4. Better Precision and Accuracy

Dovetail jigs solve one of the most common woodworking problems – repeatability. Most projects will require you to make the same dovetail joint multiple times, with the same size, pattern, and depth. Setting up a dovetail jig will help you quickly make the same cuts for all joints – without having to take measurements and marking every time.


5. Produces High Quality Woodwork

Dovetail jigs help you create joints that are both sturdy and attractive to look at. It allows you to cut both joint ends smoothly so they fit together exactly with intense precision. And the result? A high quality finished product that rivals those you made by a skilled woodworker.

What are the different types of dovetail jigs?

1. Fixed Dovetail Jigs

These jigs are made of aluminum and have equally spaced fingers. This feature helps guide you when fitting the pins and tails. They provide you with better accuracy to produce the same-sized joints each time for a clean finish. And because the template is fixed, setting up becomes much easier.

The main problem with this jig is that it’s not adjustable. This means that the cuts produced will look too artificial and machine-made. This may not appeal to those who look for woodwork with a more traditional, hand-crafted design.

2. Variable or Adjustable Dovetail Jigs

True to their name, these jigs allow you to adjust the fingers on the machine to change the spacing. This gives you more flexibility to customize your work. As a result, you can create a wide range of different designs with a more hand-made appearance.

The downside, however, is that these jigs are more difficult to set up. Also, the constant adjusting of the fingers could result in breakage, so it may not be as strong and durable compared to fixed dovetail jigs.

What kind of joints do dovetail jigs make?

1. Through Dovetail Joint

This is the simplest design of all dovetail joints. Here, two pieces of wood are jointed together at the ends with a finger-like interlocking method. The pins and tails can be seen on both outside surfaces of the wood. This joint is best for joining the corners of boxes, cabinets, and other household items

2. Half-blind Dovetail Joint

As the name suggests, half of the joint in this type of dovetail is not visible. This joint doesn’t cut the tails all the way through so that the ends can’t be seen from the front of the work. They are commonly used to fasten the front and sides of drawers, so that the end grain can be hidden.

3. Sliding Dovetail Joint

These joints are formed by joining two boards at right angles but not at the end of either piece by cutting a side bracket. The tail is then slid into the socket, hence the name. This joint is rivals the strength and durability of the through dovetail, and is usually used to attach legs to a table or shelves to a cabinet.

4. Secret Mitered or Blind Dovetail Joint

This joint doesn’t cut the pins or tails all the way through, so that the outer edges meet at a 45-degree angle while hiding the dovetails inside of the joint. This results in a clean finish without any sign of interlocking, making it ideal for picture frames and high-class cabinets.

What are the key features to look out for when choosing a dovetail jig?

1. Intended Use

What kind of project will you be doing? Choosing the right jig requires you to understand the needs of your work. This is because some jigs have fixed templates that allow you to create only dovetail joints, while others are adjustable so you can create other joint types. Frequency also plays an important factor. If you plan on using the jig for a single project, then you can choose a simpler model. But if you plan on using more often to create huge projects, then you’ll need to invest in a more expensive, high-end model to reduce the risk of overheat from constant use.

2. Weight and Portability

Dovetail jigs are made to be portable so you can take them from one workplace to another. Weight of the tool usually ranges from 1 pound to 20 pounds, but this usually becomes heavier when you add in the router cutter.

3. Quality Construction

Dovetail jigs need to be durable and strongly built because you’ll be constantly applying pressure on it from the wood and the router. If you’re looking for heavy duty jigs, it’s best to consider those made of steel and aluminum that are resistant to rust and corrosion, as well as withstand normal wear and tear.

4. One-step vs. two-step

One-step dovetail jigs cut both the tails and pins at the same time, so that joint cutting becomes fast as well easy. This type is also incredibly easy to set up.

Two-step dovetail jigs, on the other hand, cut the tails and pins separately. This makes it more difficult to line up, but they provide more accurate results.

5. Capacity

The capacity of projects that a dovetail jig can handle depends on two main factors – length and thickness range. In terms of length, most jigs on the market can handle 12-inch components. This is suitable for both small and large woodworks. When it comes to thickness, you’ll need jigs with a thickness range from 1/4 to 3/4 inches for thin boards. But if you plan to work with larger boards, then choose a jig than can handle up to 1-1/4 inches thick.

6. Adjustment Features

Not all dovetail jigs are created alike. Some can create several kinds of joints, while others are only capable of making one type. If versatility your primary consideration, choose one that has multiple templates and a variable design that can move the fingers to adjust spacing.

7. Design

Dovetail jigs come with similar components, but you’ll need one that has an easy-to-use design. If you don’t want to waste a lot of time setting up, choose a dovetail jig with the base fully assembled. Another factor to look out for is multiple clamps, so it holds the wood firmly in place while you cut. For beginners, always check if the package comes with a user manual.

8. Router compatibility

Dovetail jigs are only guides and they require a router to actually do the dovetail cutting. Make sure to check that the router you’re using fits in well with your jig.

Final Verdict: Which Dovetail Jog is the Best?

You won’t go wrong with any of our top ten choices listed above, but if we were to recommend just one dovetail jig, then the PORTER-CABLE 4216 Super Jig would be our top pick.

It’s easy to see why this model is called a “super jig.” Combining the best features of versatility, adjustability, durability, and ease-of-use, this model is an excellent option for both beginners and skilled woodworkers alike. What stood out to us most was the inclusion of different aluminium templates – allowing you to create up to 6 different joint designs! It really can’t get much better than that.

Despite its compact and portable design, this jig can handle up to 12 inches wide boards. Its single-piece design makes it easy to assemble and easy to use. Made up of heavy-duty steel, this jig is built to last for years and can resist the toughest elements, like rust and corrosion.

With all the features we’re looking for in a good dovetail jig, the PORTER-CABLE 4216 Super Jig definitely beats out the competition.

The Bottom Line

Dovetail jigs are the secret to creating near-perfect joints that will make you feel like a professional woodworker.

These are tried-and-tested tools that will create joints at accurate 90-degree angles. From furniture to boxes – dovetail jigs can create beautiful woodwork that is impossible to achieve using hand tools. They not only give you a more precise finish but also allow you to complete measurements and markings – all within a few minutes.

And that’s it. You’ve seen our best picks, you’ve learned to differentiate all types of joints, and understood the key features to look out for. Hopefully, our reviews and buyer’s guide have helped give you a well-informed view of what to look for in a dovetail jig, so that you can confidently find one that’s right for you.