For many years now, the Leigh D4 dovetail system has been the gold standard of router cut dovetail jigs. It is unsurpassed when it comes to adjustability and flexibility and versatility. Of course, that superiority comes with a price — the level of engineering and machining that goes into creating and producing the D4 doesn’t come cheap. If there’s a shortcoming, it’s that some folks are initially put off by the complexity of working with the D4.
The new D1600 is being positioned as a smaller sibling to the D4, and as a continuation of Leigh’s tradition of excellence. Recently, Matthew Grisley dropped by the Journal offices to demonstrate the D1600 and, I must say, it was an impressive morning.
The core of the jig is a one-piece aluminum extrusion that is machined on both clamping surfaces. You can machine through, half blind (that’s a half-lap to you Brits out there) and sliding dovetail joints. Rabbet and End on End joints are achievable as well. Like the D4, the D1600’s fingers are completely adjustable as you layout the pattern or spacing of the cuts.
A manual and accompanying DVD do a fine job of explaining how to set up and use the D1600. The jig will form through dovetails in stock up to 13/16″ thick, and half blind and sliding dovetails in stock as thick as 1″. Maximum board width is 16″ (a third down from the D4’s 24″).
As I watched the demo, I was struck by the practical nature of the offering and found it to be more intuitive (less moving parts and easier to understand just by looking at it) than the D4.
It comes standard with three cutters, brass template guide, cam action speed clamps, cross cut bar, screwdriver and the previously mentioned manual and DVD.
On the market now and being sold in the $299.00 range, this jig is going to turn some heads.
For more information, go to www.leighjigs.com.