7 Leigh Dovetail Jigs Perfect for the Hobbyist Woodworker [In-depth Review]

INTRODUCTION

If you’re here wondering whether or not you should buy a Leigh Dovetail Jig then the answer is YES. The current line of Leigh dovetail jigs and box joint jigs are simply the most encompassing and adjustable on the market.

I personally own the Leigh 12” Super Jig and was a fan from the get go. With little effort at all you’ll be producing craftsman quality dovetails and box joints that even the most seasoned woodworker will have trouble telling apart from hand cut joinery.

These jigs feature the patent pending e10 adjustable guide bushing which provides micro-adjustability down to .002! Below is an in-depth review of Leigh’s suit of joinery jigs including a list of pros and cons for each group of products.

If you found this review beneficial in your decision to buy one of these systems I would love to hear from you in the comment section below.

LEIGH D4R Pro

Leigh D4R With Accessory Kit
Leigh Industries

The Leigh D4R Pro is the pinnacle offering from this great manufacturer of joining machinery. This jig offers the user unwavering flexibility in its adjustability and accuracy. Out of the box the Leigh D4R Pro comes equipped with the ability to create 16 different joints, including two sizes of box joints and shelf pins and notches. Amazingly, this jig has the capability to route board thicknesses up to 1 ½”, but this varies by joint type. If you are looking for complete freedom in your dovetail joinery then this is the jig for you. There simply isn’t another jig out there that can go head to head with the D4R Pro and come out unscathed. This jig is truly a knockout punch.

Types of Joint

  • Types of Joints
  • Variably Spaced Through Dovetails 
  • Variably Spaced Half-Blind Dovetails 
  • Single Pass (fixed spaced) Half-Blind Dovetails 
  • Sliding Dovetails 
  • Rabbeted Half-Blind Dovetails 
  • Finger (Box) Joints, 3/8" and 3/4" 
  • Inlaid Dovetails 
  • End-on-End Dovetails 
  • Asymmetrical Joints (Through and Half-Blind) 
  • Simple Angle Joints 
  • Obtuse Angle Joints 
  • Acute Angled Joints 
  • Compound Angled Joints 
  • Needle Pins 
  • Shelf Holes and Notches

With optional templates

  • Finger (Box) Joints, 11 sizes 
  • Isoloc Joints, 6 patterns 
  • Multiple Mortise & Tenon Joints

What’s included in the Box

  • Jig Base, Support Brackets, and Knobs 
  • Jig Mounting Hardware
  • Leigh Wrench/Gauge
  • Guide Finger Assembly
  • Square Drive Screwdriver 
  • Scale assemblies
  • 5/64" Hex Key 
  • Cam-Action Speed Clamps
  • Clamping Bars 
  • Template Guide Bushing (e7-Bush)
  • Pin wrench 
  • 1/2", 8° and 14° Dovetail Bits
  • 5/16" Straight Bit
  • Collet Reducer
  • 1/2" to 8mm Bridge Piece Material 
  • Nylon Stop Rod 
  • Sliding Dovetail Fence 
  • Spacer(s) 
  • Fully Illustrated User Guide 
  • DVD Instructional Video
  • Warranty/Registration Card
     

Additional Templates

Just when you thought that the Leigh D4R Pro couldn’t get any better you learn it has three additional templates providing even more versatility. Expand your repertoire of box joints with 11 additional sizes and awe yourself with the isoloc joint. Additionally, create beautiful mortise and tenon joinery simply and easily. The three additional templates round out this masterful jig making it the absolute complete package.


Leigh Super jig (12", 18", 24")

leigh-super-12-18-24-jig.jpg
Leigh Super 18" Dovetail Jig
Leigh Industries

The price point of the D4R Pro can be an insurmountable hill to climb for the average hobbyist woodworker. Luckily for us Leigh Dovetail Jigs come in an equally impressive but much less expensive version. The Leigh Super Jig offers 12”, 18”, and 24” models with almost all the same joint making capabilities as the D4R Pro. Out of the box this jig offers 12 different joints, including 2 sizes of box joints and asymmetric dovetails, and can rout board thicknesses up to 1”. It’s the most versatile jig in its class offering infinite adjustability and solid body construction. The Leigh Super Jig is unmatched in its quality and perfect for those power tool woodworkers who love the look of the dovetail joint but don’t have the time or patience to learn hand dovetailing. 

Types of Joints

  • Through Dovetails
  • Half-Blind Dovetails
  • Single Pass Half-Blind Dovetails
  • Sliding Dovetails
  • Box/Finger Joints (2 Sizes)
  • Asymmetric Dovetails 
  • Angled Dovetails
  • Inlaid Dovetails
  • End-on-End Dovetails
  • Raised Dovetails
  • Finger Joints
  • Raised Through Dovetails

With optional templates

  • Finger (Box) Joints, 11 sizes 
  • Isoloc Joints, 6 patterns

What’s Included in the Box

  • 1/2'' 8° dovetail bit
  • 1/2'' 14° dovetail bit
  • 5/16'' straight bit
  • 1/2'' to 8mm collet reducer
  • Cam action speed clamps
  • Sliding dovetail fence
  • Square drive screwdriver
  • Fully illustrated User Guide
  • Instructional DVD
  • Spacer
  • Leigh e-Bush
  • Half-blind bridge piece material
     

Additional Templates

If you happen to own the Super 18” or 24” then you’re in luck. The Isoloc template as well as the Finger joint templates both come in sizes that fit these two jigs. Unfortunately, we Super 12” owners are out of luck

Pros and Cons of the Leigh D4R Pro and Super Jigs

Pros

  • Versatile and infinitely adjustable
  • Wide range of joint styles and sizes
  • Well documented instructions in both written form and video
  • Innovative dust collection available as an accessory
  • Aircraft grade extruded aluminum body and clamping bars
  • Non-slip material surface and adjustable cam style clamps
  • Allows joint thicknesses up to 1 ½” (D4R) and 1” (Super Jigs)

Cons

  • Jig fingers are caste not machined and have some variation in flatness
  • Some reported issues with wider work pieces moving in the upper clamps while routing
  • There is somewhat of a learning curve when first utilizing the jig
  • Some have reported the jig fingers coming loose during operation
  • Additional templates not available for all Super Jig sizes

Leigh RTJ400

leigh-RTJ400-dovetail-jig.jpg

This jig is perfect for those who prefer using their router table rather than precariously balancing a bulky router on top of a jig. Machined from aircraft grade aluminum, the Leigh RTJ400 is the ultimate router table-based joinery system on the market. Like all other Leigh Dovetail jigs the RTJ400 offers a multitude of joinery types and sizes. Out of the box you get 5 sizes of through dovetails (1/4'', 5/16'', 3/8'', 7/16'' and 1/2''), 4 sizes of half-pitch through dovetails (1/4'', 5/16'', 3/8''and 7/16''), 3 sizes of single pass half-blind dovetails (3/8'', 1/2'', and 19/32''), and 4 sizes of box joints (3/4'', 3/8'', 3/16'' and 3/32''). Additionally, this jig is capable of routing both end-on-end dovetails and angled dovetails. The maximum board thickness allowable is 1” but can vary based on joint type. Long story short, if you’re looking for a dovetail jig and want to use your router table to cut the joinery then this is the jig for you. 

Types of Joints

  • Through Dovetails (2 Pitches) 
  • Half-Blind Dovetails, Single Pass 
  • Rabbeted Half-Blind Dovetails 
  • Box (Finger) Joints, 3/32", 3/16", 3/8" and 3/4" 
  • End-on-End Dovetails 
  • Asymmetrical Joints (Through and Half-Blind) 
  • Simple Angled Joints

What’s included in the Box

  • Jig Template 
  • Jig Frame 
  • 2 Latches 
  • 1/8" Ball End Hex Key
  • Cam-Action Speed-Clamps
  • Blockers 
  • Stop Rod 
  • 2 Side-stops 
  • Bit Depth Gauge 
  • Instruction Strips 
  • 1/2" - 8° and 14° Dovetail Bits
  • 3/8" and 1/2" Straight Bits
  • e10 elliptical eBush
  • Pin Wrench
  • User Guide, Fully Illustrated 
  • DVD Video, Instructional 
  • Warranty/Registration Card

Leigh R9 Plus

leigh-r9-plus-dovetail-jig.jpg

NOT YET AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

Want the all-in-one dovetail and box joint jig with no board width limitations? The Leigh R9 Plus will give it to you with its versatile indexing pin positioning system. Utilizing the innovative pin plates you can easily route dovetails and box joints in boards of any width. Out of the box the Leigh R9 Plus is capable of 3 sizes of Through Dovetails with 2 different pitches and 3 sizes of box or finger joints. This jig accommodates board thicknesses up to 13/16” for dovetails and 7/8 for box/finger joints. Want micro-adjustability? The Leigh E Bush and adjustable side stop will give that to you. This jig presents a happy medium between the Leigh RTJ400 and the B975, landing somewhere in the middle in both functionality and price.

Types of Joints

  • Through Dovetails
  • Box/Finger Joints
 

What’s included in the Box

  • R9 Template, machined and anodized aircraft grade aluminum (6061 T6)
  • 3 pin plates and template positioning technology 
  • 2 F style clamps with anti-rotation locators
  • Adjustable Side Stop for all joint types
  • All hardware for beam assembly
  • No. 80-8 dovetail bit, 1/2'' x 13/16'' x 8''
  • No. 160 straight bit, 1/2'' x 1-1/4''
  • No. 172-8, collet reducer, 1/2'' – 8mm
  • e10 elliptical guide bush for joint fit adjustment
  • User Guide, fully Illustrated

Leigh B975 Box Joint and Behive Jig

If you’re looking for a jig that does one joint very well then you certainly found it. The Leigh B975 Box Joint & Beehive Jig can be used on both router table and in bench mode on boards up to 17 13/16” in width and has a max board thickness of 13/16”. Out of the box it’s capable of making two sizes of box or finger joints, ½” and ¾”, and has become a favorite among beehive makers. In fact, this jig is the result of multiple requests from beehive makers to Leigh regarding an easy solution for creating this beautiful joint. In my humble opinion, they certainly hit it out of the park.

Types of Joints

  • Box joints in 1/2" and 3/4"

What’s included in the Box

  • Jig Template, glass-reinforced nylon
  • Side Stops
  • Step-over Cams, 1/2" and 3/4"
  • No. 160 Straight Bit: 1/2" x 1-1/4" x 1/2" shank
  • e10 Elliptical eBush
  • Pin Wrench
  • 10 Screws, No.8 Phillips Pan Head
  • User Guide, fully Illustrated
  • DVD, instructional
     

Pros and Cons of the RTJ400, R9 Plus, and B975

Pros

  • Easy to setup and Use
  • Adjustments are simple and precise
  • Joints are high quality and tight fitting
  • Well documented instructions in both written form and video
  • Made from aircraft grade aluminum (RTJ400 & R9)
     

Cons

  • Requires additional router plate fitting to function properly on your router table if one isn’t included with your router table that fits the e10 guide bushing.
  • Template positioning pin on the RTJ400 tends to break off due to engineering flaw. This is reported to have been fixed in later revisions.
  • No built-in dust collection or dust collection accessories
  • A little pricey when compared to other “comparable” jigs
  • Users have claimed that you must design your projects around the jigs limitations (This is common sense in my book)

Conclusion

The Leigh Dovetail Jig line of products is an impressive one in my book. Take it from a guy who has purchased and tested dovetail and box joint jigs from other companies, including Rockler, Porter Cable, and Incra, that these are the best in class on the market. They have some drawbacks but of the ones I mentioned in this article, none are truly deal breakers. If you simply don't have the time or patience to learn hand dovetails and box joints then these jigs are the way to go. I hope that you found the information in this article useful and if you were looking for something that wasn't included please let me know and I will provide and update. Please post your comments below and sign up for my newsletter if you interested in being notified of new articles when they are posted.