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December 11, 2017

Porter Cable 4216 vs Porter Cable 4212 vs Porter Cable 4210

Porter cable 4216 Dovetail JigPorter-Cable-4212 Dovetail JigPorter-Cable 4210 dovetail jig

Porter Cable’s most popular dovetail jigs are all in their 4200 range. Top of the range is the Porter Cable 4216, the 4212 is the mid-range jig and the 4210 is their entry-level dovetail jig. So how do you decide which one is best for you?

All three jigs share the same base unit and the difference between them comes down to the finger templates included with the jig. What templates you need depends on the different types of dovetail joints that you want to make. The table below summarizes the joints you can make with each of the jigs:

Porter Cable 4210 Porter Cable 4212 Porter Cable 4216
Half blind dovetails check mark check mark check mark
Sliding dovetails check mark check mark check mark
Through dovetails check mark check mark
Box joints check mark check mark
Miniature dovetails check mark

 

So you need to think about the sort of dovetail joints you want to make

  • If you know that you only want to cut half blind and sliding dovetails then the Porter Cable 4210 will be sufficient for your needs
  • Most woodworkers also want to be able to cut through dovetails – standard drawer design has half-blind dovetails at the front and through dovetails at the back, for example. That means you need the Porter Cable 4212. The same template also lets you cut box joints.
  • The Porter Cable 4216 allows you to cut miniature dovetails as well. How often do you need to do that? That all depends on the type of woodworking you do – if you make decorative boxes then you probably want to be able to cut miniature dovetails.

Based on our experience and the experience of other woodworkers, the decision can be broken down as follows:

  • If cost is a major consideration and you can live without through dovetails, go for the Porter Cable 4210. You can always buy the other templates later, although it will work out more expensive in the long run.

Click here to view the PC4210 on Amazon.

 

  • For the majority of woodworkers, the Porter Cable 4212 is the best choice allowing you to cut all the joints apart from miniature dovetails, which most people probably don’t need. It’s the all round best value jig.

Click here to view the PC4212 on Amazon.

 

  • If you know from the outset that you will use all of the templates to make all the different types of dovetail joint, the Porter Cable 4216 is by far the most cost-effective way of doing it.

Click here to view the PC4216 on Amazon.

 

Luckily, whichever one you choose, your decision isn’t set in stone, as you can always buys the templates separately later on – it just works out a bit more expensive that way.

Variable Joint Spacing

The only thing that you can’t do with any of the Porter Cable 4200 series dovetail jigs is make variably-spaced dovetail joints with different sized pins and tails. To do that you need to get into a totally different type of adjustable dovetail jig (and price bracket) and look at the Leigh D4R or the Porter Cable Omnijig.

If you need some help deciding whether you should choose a fixed or a variable jig, we’ve put together an article discussing the pros and cons of each. See Fixed vs Variable Dovetail Jigs