|The Woodworker's Journal (www.woodworkersjournal.com) reviewed the Keller 1601. This review is © 2001 Woodworker's Journal.
By John English
By far the simplest to set up and operate, the Keller Dovetail jig is ideally suited to decorative box building. Unlike the half-blind jig, this tool delivers visible pins and tails on all four faces of a box.
Initial setup for the Keller jig was incredibly simple. All I had to do was screw a length of 2x4 stock to each of the two templates, aligning them along factory-scored marks. Keller supplied the screws, and also packaged two bearing-guided bits with the jig: one straight bit and one dovetail. Both bearings are mounted at the bottom of the shaft, above the cutters. These bits eliminate the need for a guide bushing and locknut.
The Keller Jig is very simple to operate, which turns out to be both its virtue and its vice. On the upside, all you have to do is center the first template on your stock and clamp it in place, then make your cut. On the downside, one size of pin and tail must fit all projects, although you can vary the spacing between them. Use of the Keller jig was explained in an accompanying 12-minute informational video that only had to spend half its time on operational details. Simply make the first cut (described above) to mill the tails, then use this part to mark the pins. Clamp the second template on the pin board, change bits, and make your second cut.
Despite its simplicity, the Keller machine has some surprising abilities. Because it is essentially nothing more than a clamped-on template, it can be used on stock 1/8'' to 3/4'' thick of unlimited width. It can even be used to mill dovetail joints on curved surfaces, and in both acute and compound angles. Setup time is absolutely minimal, and no test cuts are required. These properties make it an obvious choice for production work. One can even gang-cut two or three parts at a time, further reducing production time. The Keller 1601, which lists for $249, is one of four models offered by the company. The 1601 system includes two aluminum templates and both bearing-guided, carbide-tipped bits. It comes with a limited 20-year warranty.