22 April, 2014

Harbor Freight Dovetail Machine info...

As I get ready to start using my Central Machinery Dovetail Machine, I have come across some very useful, and interesting information that might just have me radically changing up my dovetail jig... jig.

For starters like much of Harbor Freight's tools, the dovetail machine is just a belly button Chinese mass produced tool with Harbor Freight's paint colors and branding on it. The same exact jig with different colors and stickers is literally marketed under a huge variety of names.

What I found most particularly notable is that a reseller of one such relabeled version, Busy Bee Tools, and the relabelled version is the Craftex CT052 has put together a great instructional video on how to set this thing up and use it. It would appear a good number of owners have no clue how to actually use this thing...

Likewise, there are a wide variety of storage boxes, and accessories folks are building for these. There is an interesting one that Lumberjocks member "TheDane" made for his Central Machinery Dovetail Machine to top it off, that post sparked a great discussion on simple modifications that owners are doing to make their jigs work better for them. 
One item worth noting is that contrary to Harbor Freight's advertising, the dovetail machine is compatible with a wide variety of dovetail and box joint templates.
As I mentioned above, TheDane's dovetail jig storage box intrigues me for various reasons, not the least of which is just the look of the thing. But aside from that, there is function... I honestly don't quite understand what some of the stop blocks are for. I haven't put mine through heavy use yet, but I don't see a real need for stop blocks against the jig to keep it from moving. Perhaps I am missing something...
The storage / use box pictured above offers some
interesting features.
Most notably the drawer for stowing the optional
template guide combs, collars, and dovetail bits.
As you know, in a small shop, maximizing storage capability is king, and this is a kingly idea for sure! 

I have found other reviews online for this, and other clones of the same unit, most notably the Woodstock International W1099 sold by Grizzly. There is a great write up of it http://www.thewoodshop.20m.com/w1099.htm that goes into detail on usage and explains a bit more in a written fashion the same things that the video I linked above from Busy Bee / Craftex does.

So my construction method for my miter saw cabinet drawers might have been decided here. I need practice cutting and fitting dovetails, building drawers so I can get proficient at it to tackle the drawers for the new cabinets in the house. I would like to build them all with dovetails, mitered frame / raised panel drawer fronts, and soft close slides...
Shop furnishing projects build the skills to build home furnishings and fixtures. And boy do I need practice!


  1. I have read your post. Awesome post. Most informative. Thx! , Super! Thanks especially for the video! eztoolhub.com

  2. I have the Central Machinery 12"dovetail jig what size bits can be used with it?

    1. I have been using I believe it is a 14 degree 1/4" shank bit. You need a 1/2" guide bushing or bearing. Page 7 of the manual at http://manuals.harborfreight.com/manuals/34000-34999/34102.pdf shows the specs for the bit...

  3. Thanks nfor the info. Very informative.