Eagle America 445-7600 Self Centering Jig
- Solidly Built
- Steel Drill Jig
- Clamping Pressure
- Wide Capacity
- Multiple Drill Sizes
- No Sawdust Port
- Single Fixed Holes for 7/16 and 1/2
- No Offset Feature
- Difficult to use in Non-Centered
This is a great, accurate, and durable jig.
What Actually Arrived
This style of doweling jig is very common in woodworking. I have no idea who made the first one, but it seems that every company(Eagle America, Rockler, Harbor Freight,…) has since copied that design. The prices vary from $14-$70. Based on online reviews, it appears that some companies have been more successful at creating a good jig than others.
I ordered the Eagle America 445-7600 from Amazon. It is listed on Eagle America’s website here. Interestingly, what showed up is the Task Pro Center 07500. From the pictures I honestly can’t tell any difference between the two. It is possible that they are the same company, but I see no evidence of that.
All of this makes it difficult to make sure that you get the same jig that I am reviewing.
The jig costs ~$70, which is more than the Harbor Freight version and more than the awful General Tools Jig. This is less than the high end Dowelmax ($249) the Dowelmax Jr. ($99), JessEm Doweling Jig ($149), or the JessEm Doweling Jig Kit ($239).
In all, I think it is a fair price, although as a beginner woodworker $70 is a lot of money for a jig.
Ease of Use
The doweling jig is easy to use, so easy in fact that I can overlook the laughably incomplete instructions.
If using the 1/4″, 5/16″ or 3/8″ inserts, there are two holes available in the jig. However, the 7/16″ and 1/2″ holes are fixed, they do not allow for use of the inserts. This is unfortunate for two reasons.
First, it means that you can’t easily drill a 4 hole pattern. A bummer, but not something that is very common.
Second, in almost any dowel situation, you will want to drill two dowel holes to prevent movement. When using the 7/16″ and 1/2″ holes, you have to unclamp and reposition the jig. When aligning the jig for a second time, you can use the index marks on the jig, for decent accuracy. I however discovered that I could get near perfect accuracy by inserting a 3/8″ drill bit into the 3/8″ hole and using that to index from the first drilled hole.
The self-centering aspect of the jig also makes it difficult to drill non-centered holes. This can still be accomplished by inserting a shim between the jig and the board. But keep in mind that the shim only moves the holes half the distance, so if you use a 1/2″ shim, it will move the holes 1/4″ off-center.
The jig also lacks an offset feature that would allow you to drill multiple sets of holes. Although, you could use the same drill bit alignment trick that I described above.
Finally, the jig lacks a sawdust port. Not a big deal, but you will have to pull the drill back at times to empty the sawdust from the bit.
The jig is undoubtedly durable. It feels extremely solid. There is no wiggle room in the jig, the center is stiff and perfectly parallel to the clamps. The drill guide is also made from good solid steel that doesn’t seem to be worn down by the the spinning drill bit.
The center bar is the screw drive for the clamp and it will get covered in sawdust. But so far this has not been an issue when clamping.
The drill guide is steel and fits the drill bits very well, there is almost no play when drilling which results in a perfectly drilled hole everytime. Similarly, the jig has no play or wiggle and as a result the holes are always placed accurately in the middle. The jig also very solidly clamps onto boards with very little effort, thus ensuring that it remains in place while drilling.
I have found the jig to be extremely useful. Dowel joinery is much faster than mortise and tennon. But dowel joinery can become very annoying if the dowel holes are not perfectly aligned. Using this jig I can achieve a very high level of accuracy with very little preparation.
I would highly recommend this jig to all woodworkers. I would caution though, that from what I see online, it looks like many of the cheaper copies of this style jig appear to perform poorly.