The MLCS Dovetail Jig: How To Use It


Many woodworkers associate the dovetail joint with quality craftsmanship. It’s an attractive joint that has stood the test of time. If you’d like to incorporate dovetails into your work, the MLCS Dovetail Jig is just the thing to get you started. It’s easy to use and will allow you to produce perfect-fitting dovetails in just minutes.

   Get the Jig!

Step 1: Install the Bushing and Router Bit

The bit and bushing for the MLCS Dovetail Jig.

The MLCS Dovetail Jig includes a brass guide bushing and a 14° router bit. Install the bushing in your router base plate and secure the bit in the router collet. Set the bit depth to 5/8”, and make sure to measure from the bottom of the base plate, not the bottom of the guide bushing. That’s all there is to the router setup!

Step 2: Secure the MLCS Dovetail Jig and Make a Setup Board

Marking the set-up board line for using the MLCS Dovetail Jig.

Before using the jig, you should fasten it to your workbench via the holes in the front and back. You don’t want to tip the jig over when clamping parts in it, or worse yet, when you’re routing. Now make a setup board for the stock you want to route. Mark a line 19/32” from the end of a board that’s the same width and thickness as the material you’ll use for your dovetails. The line should extend across the board’s entire width. 

Marking the set-up board center for using the MLCS Dovetail Jig.

Put a mark right at the center of the line.

Using the Center Template of the MLCS Dovetail Jig.

Place the half-blind template on top of the setup board, with one of the fingers centered over the stock’s width. Mark the slots near each edge of the board and check the marks with a tape measure to make sure they’re even. If necessary, adjust the marks.

Step 3: Adjust the Edge Guides on Each Side of the Jig

Loosen the left or right edge guide and place the setup board on the MLCS Dovetail Jig. Put the template on top and adjust the board’s position until the layout lines near the edges match up to the edges in the template.

Securing a MLCS Dovetail Jig bracket.

Butt the edge guide against the setup board, remove the template and tighten the screw to lock the guide in place. Repeat this step for the other edge guide.

Step 4: Position the Template

Clamping the stock to use in the MLCS Dovetail Jig.

Secure a piece of stock in the front clamp, leaving about 1/8” of overhang at the top of the jig. Put the setup board in the top of the jig, place the template over the stock and line up the back edge of the slots with the layout line you marked across the width of the board.

The back of the MLCS Dovetail Jig Slot.

Turn the lock nut at the front of the jig until it touches the back of the template, and then tighten the brass thumbscrew. Repeat this step for the other side of the jig.

Step 5: Clamp Your Stock and Route

Clamping the parts of the MLCS Dovetail Jig to begin routing.

You’re almost ready to route. All you have to do now is put your material into the jig. The tail boards go behind the front clamp, up against the bottom of the template. Clamp the pin boards into the top of the jig, making sure they’re butted up to the tail boards. The inside surfaces of your parts should face away from the jig. Put the router on top of the jig before turning it on. Route the dovetails.

Routing with the MLCS Dovetail Jig.

*Tip: To prevent tear out, you can make a shallow climb cut across the face of each tail board, and then route the dovetails from left to right. Turn the route off before removing it from the jig. A spinning bit can damage the template.


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