a relatively dumb question i'm sure...

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hi,
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.
thanks! john
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1.. A device for guiding a tool or for holding machine work in place. A jig is basically a generic name for the above that has a specific function.
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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: http://home.comcast.net/~kvaughn65 /
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And hopefully after another cup of coffee, I will be able to tell my right from left hand, and type Ken Vaughn's name correctly!
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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.
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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."
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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.
R
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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 a jig.
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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.
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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.
hex -30-
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unclescrooge wrote: ...

Actually, it's that little hop-step dance one does around the shop after hitting the thumb. Sometimes accompanied by loud noises...
jig 1.a. Any of various lively dances in triple time.
:)
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more careful next time I use a hammer."
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"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.
http://home.comcast.net/~kvaughn65/big_sled.jpg
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 this.
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unclescrooge wrote: ...

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...
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unclescrooge wrote:

Hi Scrooge,
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.
Tanus
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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?
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unclescrooge wrote: ...

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 in itself...
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unclescrooge wrote:

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 process.
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.
Tanus
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wrote:

Do-able, yes.. easy, no..
With proper stacking, green lumber dries at the rate of about 1 year per inch of thickness.. Hope you don't need that bed soon.. lol
Maybe you should buy the lumber and a mini lathe and turn the mesquite while it's green..
mac
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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 wood.
thank you guys for your help and input!
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