When in Doubt – Make a Jig

We seem to build a lot of jigs at the shop.


I think this is good thing, or else we wouldn’t build many jigs.  My kids and workers alike seem to cringe when I proclaim “It’s time to get jiggy with it!!”  Not that they’re uncomfortable with my making jigs – they’re just uncomfortable with my using the slang ‘get jiggy with it!’

Not all jigs are created equally!  Some work great.  Some simply don’t pan out, a seemingly waste of time, effort and money, they end up being expensive kindling.

The best jigs we make are the ones that

*are real time savers

*are quick and inexpensive to make

The protocol for most jigs are jobs that get repeated and need a high level of  accuracy.  Some  that come to mind are hole drilling jigs for shelves in the interior of cabinets, tapering jigs for the table saw, router jigs for stair treads. Some of the more elaborate jigs  have been fluting jigs, a jig for cutting a flat octagon on spindles and a jig to router dovetails into a candle stand leg.

The biggest problem I encounter with jig making is the decision of how much time and money will be put into the project.  Some take a fair amount of time thought and materials.  We are never certain if the jig will work to our standards.

One thing I have found is that we rarely go back and remake a jig.  I always have it the back of my mind – I’ll start with this jig – then I can improve it (make it more permanent).  It’s like cleaning the back room, we say we’re going to do it, but we never do.

Jigs are a great help for the shop and I’ve come to find that a well thought out shop built jig works far better that any universal jig that’s on the market – if they even exist.

We recently had a project that required a couple of jigs and a new bit.  Join us next week as we conquer a difficult task with jigs!

Until then take five.



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