i've been trying to do more with woodworking than simple home repairs
and i've seen the term used quite a bit and while i have an idea what
it is, i'm not 100% sure how to use it.
it's a jig. i have an idea that this is similar to a template but i
cannot seem to find any sites that explain what jigs are and how they
work so that i can fully understand.
yes...i know it's stupid for me to think this way but i can't figure
out why someone would spend a chunk of time making a jig to drill a
hole, for instance.
please pardon my ignorance...i really want to learn. oh and my first
real project? building a headboard for my queensize bed.
And to answer your last question, you might want to build such a
device to drill a hole perfectly perpendicular, in a place that can't
be accessed by your drill press. A perfectly square guide hole in a
piece of scrap, that you use to keep your hand-held drill square is
about as simple as jigs get. But maybe a better example is if you
wanted to drill 20 holes 15" from an edge, at 1 13/16" spacing. You
could measure and mark the center of each hole, center punch, then
drill. If I were to do that, I'm sure at least one of my spacings
would be off by 1/8" (as would all subsequent ones), and if by luck I
got all the spacings right, my punch or drill would hit a hard ring in
the wood and drift slightly. A jig to guide the drill and space the
hole relative to the edge and the previously drilled hole would be
much faster and more precise, even given the minimal time to build it.
And while the definition Leon gave covers the bulk of jigs, I also
think of aids for hand tool work as jigs. Examples include shooting
boards, sharpening jigs, etc.
To get a good feel for what jigs can do, check out Den Vaughn's site:
Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.
On Wed, 2 Jul 2008 05:17:20 -0700 (PDT), unclescrooge
Actually more similar to a fixture, but to the average wooddorker,
jig, fixture, and template all have blurred definitions. I'm not
exactly clear myself on the difference, although it's been explained
to me several times, but suffice to say that, as you've surmised, it's
a thing that's fashioned to either make a process more precise, or to
enable one to readily make multiple copies or accurately duplicate a
process multiple times.
To drill one hole might not be effective use of your time, but very
often you have to drill several similar holes (for example) and that's
where the time effort in fashioning a jig/fixture/templlate becomes
worthwhile. It's like painting. Everything about painting is in the
prep. Perhaps 5% of the job is actually slathering on product.
Everything else is setup.
I don't know anyone who makes the distinction, but according to Ken
Vaughn's site, "A jig guides the tool to the work, for example, a
dovetail jig. A fixture guides the work to the tool, for example, a
table saw sled. Most woodworkers make no such distinction and call
everything a jig, and so do I."
Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.
To make the operation safer, less likely to damage the workpiece,
faster, and repeatable with precision.
If you're installing pulls on a kitchen-full of cabinets, making a jig
might take you five minutes and save you twenty in installation time
in addition to the other benefits listed above. Next job, there's no
jig-making time - it's all pure time profit. That's why you'll see
walls full of hanging jigs and templates in a woodworking shop.
Well, suppose you have to make sure the hole is exactly perpendicular.
If you had to drill two holes, and use a dowel with glue to connect
them (a dowel joint).
If those holes aren't perpendicular, you cannot get two pieces of wood
to join together.
If you tried using a hand-held drill to do this, you have to be very careful.
It's possible, but errors are likely.
I have a $10 tool I used to drill perpendicular holes. If you have a
drill press, or you can accurately make a jig ( a block of wood with a
hole drilled at 90 degrees), then you can also make sure your holes
will be accurate.
It's really a matter of reducing errors when doing repetitious actions
by spending a little more timme up front.
If you have to do a step 10 times, and you can same time, reduce
error, and reduce aggrevation by preparation beforehand, then you make
The jigs are what is hanging all over the place from the walls, ceilings and
any other usable storage space.
If you are going to do anything simple, you probably could get by without
building a jig. Anything complicated or repetitous, can be greatly enhanced
with jigs. Gutair makers, for instance, use lots of jigs. They spend an
enormous amount of time building those jigs. But it would be almost
impossible to build a gutair without them.
And bringing in luthiers, you just added the concept of a "form" --
which would be a jig for no tools (unless your count clamps)? or would
that be a fixture for a tool known as a bench?
So to completely de-rail the conversation: are benches and clamps
tools? If so then is a form a fixture or a jig?
Semantics are silly.
"it's an entirely different thing all together" "but quit calling me
shirley" (Airplane quotes)
anyhow...kvaughan's site does help clear it up somewhat. i guess that
i get thrown by the design of some of them that i see on tv or on mr
vaughan's site. for instance that large sled for his table saw. i
don't see how you could set a large piece of wood on that thing and
not cut this jig in half with the woodstock.
i see the cut on the far side of this jig where he's already pushed
too far once and knicked it pretty good.
i'm sorry...i must sound like an idiot. let me explain...i don't see a
corresponding cut on the near side (what i gather is the pushing side)
so i can't see how this would allow you to cut the piece completely.
it would seem that the cut would leave 1/4-1/2 inch still attached
unless there is a matching cut on the near side that this camera shot
does not show.
invariably...i get things by watching someone do them and i then i
replicate it. but this is throwing me..and the reason i'm asking about
this is that the headboard plan my friend's uncle gave me calls for a
jig that i don't have and i can't see how to make it to make the holes
to hold the cutouts on the receiving posts (i think that's called
mortise and tenons??)....if so..there is one jig for the mortise and
one for the tenons and i have no plans nor can find any online to do
That's what the big block there is for -- to cover the blade when it
passes the vertical fence...
There are any number of articles in FWW and other magazines on using
routers to cut mortises and tenon w/ jigs for both.
All it takes is a guide edge for the router to run along and a stop at
each end to control the length. Ideally, if the mortise is to be
centered in the work one makes the jig self-centering, but one can also
use the trick of cutting the same distance from each face and then size
the tenon to fit the mortise.
One basically needs to consider what one is trying to accomplish and
figure out how would be an expedient way to do that rather than simply
trying to copy somebody else's every step. Learning by watching is good
up to a point, but...
You've had a lot of explanations as to what people think jigs are. I
think you're getting the general idea.
I don't know how complex the headboard is that you're planning on, but
it sounds like it has more than just a simple construction to it.
I started out a few years ago with some ideas of what I wanted to build,
and how quickly I wanted to get there. I am, like you, an amateur with
no formal training. I like it that way but it has its disadvantages. For
one thing, things that look simple, invariably aren't.
I learn something new each project I tackle. One of the first things I
learned was that early one, complex projects were a good way to ruin
some good wood and frustrate me to the point where I didn't want this
hobby any more. Learning, and accepting, what my talents _could_ do was
likely the most important lesson. I havne't thrown a hammer at a project
in a long time because of that lesson.
What I'm getting at is that it's a good plan to start small, gather some
skills together and use them to grow in project size/ complexity. Take a
long look at your headboard and ask yourself if the complexity is a bit
daunting. If not, go for it, but if it is, try something smaller first.
Plenty of plans on the Web for smaller projects. Hell, even a birdhouse
demands a few skills that are easily developed and never
forgotten.....food for thought.
this helped quite a bit. the headboard doesn't sound that complex.
it's two posts that need mortises to attach to the metal frame and
then some 1x6's that span the mattress and connect the two posts.
if i had a better set of power tools, this might be easier but the
jigs required are for the mortises for the bedframe connector and the
1xt6's connecting the two posts. all of this is going to be made with
mesquite i decided. a friend has a tree in his backyard that he's
wanting to remove. i can cut it down the rough it out...but i'll need
to get a friend to let me borrow the use of planer/joiner to cut these
boards down to size.
this is do-able right?
Well, if you're starting w/ green wood, you've added a whole new area of
practice to your repertoire of required skills... :)
Drying timber to get usable, stable lumber for cabinetmaking is an art
it's doable, but as dpb said, it's introducing a whole new set of
variables, most of which you've little or no experience with.
Disclosure: I have never cut down trees or used logs to make lumber for
projects. Any wood I've ever used has been bought at a lumber store or
Home centre. I've also never worked with mesquite. If I make errors
here, I'm sure someone will correct me.
Having said that, I'll tell you what I've learned from reading about the
The tree should be a decent size. Your biggest board is going to be 1x6,
and you probably want quarter sawn, so that means some kind of diameter
that's significantly larger than 6". This likely isn't an issue, but you
need to know what diameter will yield the size of boards you want.
Once the tree is down, it needs to be cut into boards. You can do that
with a bandsaw or a chainsaw that's mounted on a resaw bracket. Either
way it's equipment I'm assuming you don't have. If it's a bandsaw, the
capacity needs to be at least the diameter of the log, but likely a few
inches more. If the log is 12" diameter, look to a 14" bandsaw. Lee
Valley has the guides for chainsaws to cut logs into planks. I have no
idea how easy or difficult that process is.
The rough cut boards will need to be planed and jointed, and I'm unclear
if that comes before or after drying the wood. Research on the web or a
book will tell you that. Maybe it doesn't matter. My guess is that it
does matter and should be done after drying.
From everything I've seen, drying is about one year per inch of
thickness of wood. You need a place to store the wood while it's drying,
preferably indoors, but it can be done outside if protected properly
Regardless, there is a bit of an art on how to stack it so it dries
evenly. Most recommend sealing the ends of the boards so they don't check.
Kiln drying takes less time, but you need access to a kiln.
I know I've missed things in the above, but I think you get the idea.
That's a HELL of a lot of work for two pieces of 1x6.
So yes, it's doable. Practical? I don't know. You['re the only one who
can answer that.
With proper stacking, green lumber dries at the rate of about 1 year per inch of
Hope you don't need that bed soon.. lol
Maybe you should buy the lumber and a mini lathe and turn the mesquite while
Please remove splinters before emailing
holy cow...i didn't know that. i guess i'll still take the tree to
learn with. mesquite is a very hard wood. it has a wonderful look
though and it's readily available here in s. texas.
well i guess i'll go down to the lumber store tomorrow to price the
thank you guys for your help and input!
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