|The Woodshop, an online tool reviews and articles site (see thewoodshop.20m.com), reviewed the Keller 1601. This review is © 2002 The Woodshop.
By Jack Loganbill
Welcome to our review of the Keller 1601 dovetail jig. I have used my Leigh dovetail jig for years and would not part with it. But lately we have been using the Porter Cable 7116 Omnijig and previously, the Porter Cable Model 4112 and more recently, the Porter Cable 7116 to machine half-blind dovetails. The attraction of the PC 4112/PC7116 is that it they are always set to go. The Leigh takes awhile to setup and requires test cuts for each job.
I decided to purchase the Keller because of its reputation of requiring zero setup/test cuts. I like to machine half-blind dovetails for drawer fronts and through dovetails for the backs. But lately I have been too lazy to setup the Leigh for the through dovetail operation. So, we have been using PC 4112/PC7116 to machine the drawer fronts and use the Keller to machine the backs. Another key feature of the Keller that persuaded my purchase is its unlimited width capability, which we'll use in several near-future jobs.
After using the jig for the first time (and now many times), I can say the Keller 1601 meets/beats all my expectations. The Keller & Co marketing information and the many magazine articles that have reviewed it are right on--once you go through the initial assembly/setup, you can pump out through dovetail joints with no setup and zero test cuts. Period (almost).
An update. I continue to be amazed at the simplicity of using the Keller jig. Recently I have come to realize that for the types of dovetailing I do (drawers, boxes, case construction) the Keller is one jig that does it all. I typically use the through dovetail joint for boxes and use the half-blind dovetail joint for drawers. But in most cases (especially kitchen construction), I use false fronts which negates the key reason for using the half-blind joint. All of the dovetail jigs I have used have their advantages and disadvantages, but overall the Keller is the jig I turn to for most of my dovetail milling operations.
The Bottom Line
I really like the Keller Model 1601 dovetail jig. It is super simple to use and produces flawless dovetail joints without any setup or test cuts required. If you do a lot of variable-spaced dovetails in a production environment, or if you want one jig that does everything (through dovetails, half-blind dovetails, sliding dovetails), consider the Leigh or the AKEDA DC-16. But if you want a through dovetail jig that works with 100% no muss, no fuss, or no bother, consider the Keller!
By the way, don't discount using a through dovetail joint for drawers, if you plan on a false front (which many of us use). The Keller whips out drawers in no time. I have read a number of articles in the trade magazines of professional shops that use the Keller for their drawer making. One advantage of the Keller in production shops (over other Through Dovetail jigs) is that one worker can cut tails and another worker can cut pins simultaneosly. Also, the time to train an employee to use the Keller should be minimal.
Woodshop Rating: 5 out of 5!