Gifkins Dovetail Jig

It has been a while coming for me to write about the Gifkins Jig, and you’ll have to be patient with me a little longer, so I can put together a decent sequence of photos of the jig in action.

However, with my recent project that used the Gifkins to create the dovetailed joints, I found it to be an incredibly easy system to use – surprisingly so.  I had used one a few years ago for a few test cuts, but perhaps my woodworking was not at a point where I could really appreciate how easy a task it made it, or perhaps my woodworking was not at a stage where the rest of the construction would do a dovetail justice. However, by whatever road I have arrived at the current point, I can now really appreciate the benefits of the Gifkins.

Gifkins Dovetail Jig

Gifkins Dovetail Jig

The jig pictured here is the current model, now using an aluminium body, and comes with two stops as standard.  In addition in the foreground is the finger joint template, and the associated router bits for the two templates.

To the left of the template is the variable space upgrade set – a method by which you can achieve variable spaced dovetails despite it being a fixed template jig.

Mulga Box

Mulga Box

This box, recently pictured on the site was the result from a Gifkins Jig.  I am planning on having many more examples from a number of different projects this year!

13 Responses

  1. I love the Mulga box. Just think, when I was a kid in western Queensland, my Dad used to collect that stuff for firewood and it was especially prized because it was a long burning wood in our wood stove (early 1950’s).

    Anyway, I am tempted to buy a Gifkins jig but I am not sure that I have enough projects in mind to justify it. Dovetail jigs always seem so extraordinarily expensive to me and I was wondering if I ought to buy an Incra router fence because of the versatility that they offer. However, every report that I read about the Gifkins jig heaps praise upon them.

    If you had to buy either an Incra router jig or a Gifkins jig as a starter to making dovetail and box joints, what would your choice be please, Stuart?

  2. Great question Charlie – boy talk about getting me on the spot!
    I have both, as you may have gathered.

    I love my Incra fence, and wouldn’t trade it away for any dovetail jig out there. But I don’t use it for dovetailing (yet), as I never have enough time to get to grips with the steps involved. Not that it is overly complex, but the Incra is not a dovetail jig – it is an incredibly accurate fence system, and because of its accuracy means that it can handle the accuracy required to produce dovetails.

    The Gifkins jig is just that – a jig for making through dovetails (and now finger, or box joints (depending on your terminology)). It can only do one thing – make dovetail and box joints.

    It is dead easy to make a dovetail joint on it, and as such it is the one that I will be turning to if I need to quickly produce a dovetail, and haven’t had time to master the Incra. Put it this way, I have had an Incra now for about 4 years, and have cut one (inaccurate) dovetail on it. I had the Gifkins for all of a week or so, and have already produced the afore-mentioned box, and have already got ideas running around my head for many more.

    Cost:
    Incra Ultralight $377
    Incra LS 17″ basic $745
    Gifkins 1 template $300
    Gifkins 2 templates $450

    We will be organising another Incra User meeting for sometime in February. There are a number of us out there who are collaborating to try to work out just how to master such a capable system.

    Hopefully I have walked that fine line and not actually answered the question but at least there is plenty of food for thought, and perhaps the answer is in there somewhere anyway 😉

    I haven’t even touched the Leigh Jig, but not having ever had an opportunity to try one, I can’t speak for them at all.

  3. Thanks Stuart. You have answered the question with a great deal of tact and certainly well enough for me to make an informed decision.

    For my modest needs, the Leigh jig looks far too complex and expensive but a Gifkins is another matter.

    Very interesting. Many thanks.

  4. Hi Stu,
    I have had a Leigh-type jig for ages and have never been able to get it set up to get a good result. I purchased a Gifkins at the Woodwork Show in Sydney about 4 years ago and it is brilliant. I have made dozens of drawers with it and is always accurate and the joints always tight. Admittedly it is limited to through jointsbut that is what I mainly do anyway so I won’t be changing any time soon

  5. Help, I’m looking to make my uncle (a cabinet making pro) a chess board. In recognition of all the things he has taught me, I want to make each piece with dovetail connections all the way around each piece. I’m looking for anyone who has or has done the dovetail on all 4 sides. Best way to align each piece.

  6. Greetings:
    Using the Gifkin jig, is there a maximum thickness of wood that one can cut joints with? Somewhere I’ve read the maximum thickness for some jigs is 3/4 inch. ??

    • Spoke with the new owners of Gifkins at the woodshow in Melbourne yesterday. They confirmed it to have a maximum material thickness of 22mm

      • Greetings and thank you for the quick response.
        22mm is equal to approximately 7/8 inch and that is plenty thick enough for my needs.
        I was undecided about which jig to buy, or which plans to buy to build my own. I believe this forum has helped me to finalize the decision to purchase the Gifkin,… sounds like an excellent investment.

        However, I have one more short, easy question:
        After the initial purchase of the Gifkin Jig, the only other item a person may want to buy would be additional templates,… correct?

        Thank you again.

        • Hi Steve,

          That is pretty much the case (although along with templates you need the matching router bits). It is much cheaper to get the additional templates you want as part of the initial package, rather than down track.

          The Gifkins is definitely my favourite dovetail jig, not necessarily as flexible as some others, but deadset easy to use to produce superb joints.

          Oh and for your final question, by default it is imperial, as the router bits are. However, the way the jig works, it doesn’t actually matter what measurement system you are using.

  7. One more item to address: Sorry.
    Is the Gifkin in metric or imperial measurements?

  8. Thanks for the help Stuart, and the very accurate information.

  9. Hi there Stu…as the new owners of Gifkins Dovetail we very much appreciate the information you provide to woodworking enthusiasts about the jig, and we are encouraged by all the positive feedback.

    We purchased the business on 01 July 2011. We are pleased to say that we are busy looking after existing customers and showing new Gifkins customers how simple it is to use our jig.

    As usual, Gifkins Dovetail will be at all the “Timber and working with wood” shows this year…
    RNA in Brisbane, 18-20 May 2012; Homebush in Sydney, 27-29 July; Showgrounds in Perth, 3-5 August; EPIC in Canberra, 31 August-2 September; and finally, the Showgrounds in Melbourne, 19-21 October.

    Call in to our retail area at the show to see Col demonstrate box making at 11.00am, 1.00pm and 3.00pm each day.

    We can be contacted through sales@gifkins.com.au, http://www.gifkins.com.au and Facebook.

    Best wishes and thanks…
    Col Hosie and Pamela Corrigan
    Gifkins Dovetail
    PO Box 4244 Coffs Harbour Jetty NSW 2450
    Ph: 02-6651-9513 Fx: 02-6652-5654
    28Apr12

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