I am wanting an inexpensive dove tail jig to make some joints for a few projects I have in mind. I will probably not use it too extensively, so spending the money to get a Leigh or other comparible jig is out of the question. I have looked at the Craftsman ($130) and the PC 4112 ($110) and both appear to be adequate for what I need. I currently own a Craftsman router which leans me towards the Craftsman jig. Any advice on either of these two jigs or any others that are comparable would be appreciated.
The most critical part of using and of these jigs is the depth setting of the bit. This isn't stressed nearly enough in most literature.
You have to cut test pieces to get the depth set right. This is such a critical adjustment that I suggest you invest in a cheap, pawnshop, spare router so that once you get the depth set right, you can leave the bit installed.
Don't overlook the Reliant. That's what I now use, and I swear by it. It's not as expensive as either one you're looking at, either.
If you DO decide to get the Reliant, grab the instructions out of the box first thing, and grab a cigarette lighter with your other hand. You're far better off if you've never even seen the instructions. x(
The Craftsman is a good choice. It does both half-blind and through dovetails and can do box joints with an extra set of templates. Half blinds go fast once you get the hang of it the though dovetails are a little more fussy, but still okay to do.
The clamping bars are great. YOu can adjust the clamping pressure right over a narrow piece. It has a fine depth adjustment that works well also. It is no Leigh, but then again it is one third of the price.
As madmark said, lots of test cuts are the requirement for any jig.
Additionally, the Stots jig is something many people think highly of; it's not a dovetail jig, per se, but a template master that you can use to make MANY dovetail jigs of any size you choose. It's about $40 at Rockler. That could be a viable option for you as well.
Good luck and God bless however you choose to go!
I, too, think it's a risk. You could dado the shelves in, but only glue them on the back (or front, or maybe middle) 1/4 or so of the joint. That would leave the balance of the wood free to move. If...