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Every woodworker wants his or her time in their shop to be efficient and productive. Some of the most important tools in the shop are the jigs used to help make your work cleaner and easier. Jigs are physical versions of workshop shortcuts, tips and workarounds that can actually make a job fast and fun, although they won’t necessarily give you the precision and skills you might not yet have. Working with Jigs
Read more here:
http://www.routerforums.com/articles/tips-for-working-with-jigs/
 

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Theo
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I make my own jigs or whatever, partly because it's more fun that way, and partly because that way I get exactly what I want, not what someone else thinks I want.
 

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Oliver (Prof. Henry)
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Shop-made jigs are always important for my projects because I can fairly quickly cobble something up that will ensure control, enhance repeatability, or extract complex operations into multiple simple steps. I have also learned to write a note on the jig with its purpose and date. Otherwise after a few months I look at it and think "What the heck did I make this for?" :unsure:
 

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One of my favorite jigs is one for making splines in picture frames. It has a sliding fence that's tall so I can clamp on a picture frame. Because the V angle is exactly 90, I can place a backer on the back stop, to prevent chipout when using my 1/4-3/8ths specialty blade. That increases the versatility. The fence cinches down tight and can be set to place the spline precidely every time. It is close to 18 inches wide.
 

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When it is feasible I make my own jigs. Some custom to my equipment, some for a specific project. I try to make a specific project jig universal for other tasks, if possible.

Sometimes the jig is more satisfying than the project.

An update: I have moved, still have not set up my new shop yet. No woodworking this year. I hope to change that soon.

Ellery Becnel
 

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Theo
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I have also learned to write a note on the jig with its purpose and date. Otherwise after a few months I look at it and think "What the heck did I make this for?" :unsure:
Or, just as bad, when you're making multiples, with no writing sometimes it will wind up in whatever you''re making. Then it's remake time. Now the first thing I write on mine is MASTER, on each side. Don't ask how I know this. I write anything useful on mine, how many copies I will need, etc.
 

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So timely

One of my favorite jigs is one for making splines in picture frames. It has a sliding fence that's tall so I can clamp on a picture frame. Because the V angle is exactly 90, I can place a backer on the back stop, to prevent chipout when using my 1/4-3/8ths specialty blade. That increases the versatility. The fence cinches down tight and can be set to place the spline precidely every time. It is close to 18 inches wide.
Oooh, glad I stopped by this thread. I'm just putting together a photo storage box and it is to have splines. I knew I'd seen one somewhere but couldn't remember the original thread, now here it is. Thanks Tom, so timely.
 

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Oooh, glad I stopped by this thread. I'm just putting together a photo storage box and it is to have splines. I knew I'd seen one somewhere but couldn't remember the original thread, now here it is. Thanks Tom, so timely.
This was a lot of fun to put together. It is very precise and I did use a right angle triangle to make sure it was dead on 90 degrees. But I started by cutting two 18 inch wide pieces of 3/4 ply in half. One about 1 ft x 18 inches, the other about 20 x 18 inches. What made it so precise was cutting it on the table saw, not quite down the center, after using a Wixey to set the blade angle at precisely 45 degrees (the picture shows it at a different angle).

Next step was setting up the base, another 18 inch long by about 12 inches wide. I set it square to the fence after placing 3/4 x 3/8ths strips in the miter slots, raised slightly on pennies then lined the base up with the fence (also in perfect adjustment) so the base is perpendicular to the blade. Take your time doing this because everything else can then line up perfectly parallel or perpendecular to the blade.

Once the base was set up, I then used an engineer's square to mark the alighment for the first vertical support (the shorter set of 45 degree cut stock. Lined the first one up square across the base and tacked it in place and glued it.

Once dried, I took the front and back piece, and the other short vertical piece and hand held and fiddled them in place so the front and back 45 cuts were down and touching the base. Then I worked the last short vertical piece in place and checked with the draftsman's square to make sure the angle was 90 and the short vertical piece held everything in place. Tacked and glued the short vertical piece in place. and once dry, refit the two supporting pieces to the 90, marked where the back vertical piece intersected the back support piece and struck a line where I then cut a dado on the surface for the blue aluminum T track strip. Then pre drilled holes through the T track holes to connect this strip and the back support. Glue on the 45 degree surfaces and screws hold all that in place. Then pretty much repeat the process for the front support, taking great care to create a perfect 90.

The vertical support is of 1/2 baltic birch, and was cut to be perfectly square. What keeps it square are the two 90 degree supports. The horizoneal surfaces are connected with simple butt joint, the vertical is attached as is obvious in the picture. Two trapezoids hold the vertical fence at 90 to the back and fron support surfaces. A knob and T bolt let me lock it down for perfect repeatability. I could have put marks every half inch or so to set the vertical support, but its just as easy to use a tape measure.

This is a really great jig and will probably last my remaining lifetime. As mentioned I can use a custom blade that cuts 1/4 and 3/8ths dados as well.

The side view of the the jig shows you how the supports, back and front fit together.
 

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Good hand-crafted jigs aren’t meant to be micro-adjustable or universal unless you have the time and skill needed to create them. Besides, they sometimes don’t work as well as those that are quick, simply designed and easy to craft. Unless you’re a master craftsman, you probably won’t have the need for specialized jigs.


• Make jigs from materials you already have in your shop.
• Get the job done, but don’t get too involved. Build it quickly, fasten the parts together with some screws, nails or staples or even hot-melt glue.
• If it takes longer to make the jig than it would to finish the job without it, don’t bother unless it’s something you’ll be doing on a regular basis.
• Don’t make a jig you may need in the future for some unplanned project. Do make it when you have a task right on your worktable.
• Use a nominal number of pieces and fashion it in a simple design. And unless you’re creating a gift or work of art, why bother applying a finish?​
Geesh, going by this, I should go back to playing golf...:surprise:
 

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.......................What made it so precise was cutting it on the table saw, not quite down the center, after using a Wixey to set the blade angle at precisely 45 degrees (the picture shows it at a different angle)...............
Yesterday I had a fight with my DW 745 tablesaw as it wouldn't go to 45 degrees. The end travel stop had been tightened by goliath at the factory. Tried the impact driver but that made the cross head driver access bigger but didn't move the screw. So I got the larger cross head screwdriver and with pure force got it loose.

So with it now set at 45 I cut my two wings and two wing supports. Tomorrow I'll cut the base, then fix the first wing and support, then add the second.
 

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...Tomorrow I'll cut the base, then fix the first wing and support, then add the second.
Kind of fun, huh? Precision up front pays off as the project moves along. Next up is cutting the splines themselves to the sidth of your saw blade. There's a gadget for that...of course. makes cutting spline material very precise and repeatable. You can make one of these, but some things are worth buying. The Rockler Thin Strip Jig ($39) is one of them. Thin Rip Tablesaw Jig | Rockler Woodworking and Hardware

Copy on the item:
This jig allows you to rip thin strips on the left side of the blade, eliminating the danger of pushing narrow strips between the blade and fence. Since the strip is not trapped between the blade and fence, there is also less risk of binding and kickback. It's simple to use; a single knob locks the jig into the miter track and locks your setting at the same time. Ball bearing guide keeps your workpiece firmly against the fence for perfect repeatability. Use the graduated scale to fine-tune for extremely thin strips.
 

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...........This jig allows you to rip thin strips on the left side of the blade, eliminating the danger of pushing narrow strips between the blade and fence................
Got that covered already Tom. Saw this on another thread on this forum, sorry I don't know who's it was. I do need to change the mitre slot bar to a hardwood one but that's an easy fix.
 

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@DesertRatTom @vindaloo

I have the Leevalley version of the Rockler jig and really like it. With double rollers it seems a bit more stable.

I also added a jig off to the side of the blade to hold a small nozzle from the shop vac hose (uses switchable magnets) to pull the strips away from the blade. I believe I saw the original design for that jig on the forum several years ago but I can't find it.
 
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