Vacuum series #1: Plexiglass Jigs

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Blog entry by Lee A. Jesberger posted 07-12-2007 09:06 PM 3343 reads 0 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I was thinking whether or not to make this a continuation of the veneering bog, however many items here have more to do with vacuum systems, than veneering.

Hence a new Blog!

Photo one is a Demilune Hall Table top jig.

Photo two is a 30 inch long tee square which we use for biscuiting and routing duties. We make marks on the blue tape, were the biscuits go. When were done we replace the tape.

Photo three is an 8” square that we use to biscuit cabinet sides on.

Photo four is a pair of right angle jigs that are used to hold parts at a perfect right angle.

Photo five is a jig to replace the sacraficial insert in our drill press table. It is standing on edge to show the gasket material on both sides.

Photo six is a short dado jig, also used for biscuiting.

Again, as almost always, I didn’t invent these products. I did make them, and possibly improve them for our use.

By now I’m certain everbody here is aware that the vacuum system is a big part of our woodworking habits.

Part of my strong points in the shop is coming up with ways to cut back on the labor / time involved in any task which is repetitive. This may be due to fact that I have the attention span of a fly.

Or maybe it’s due to my desire to actually make a profit, with this business.

One of the biggest ways of improving productivity is by means of using templates. The photos in this series are all based on making if faster, easier, or eliminating an additional person, normally involved in the process.

This does offer us small advantage over competiters. And frankly most of our competiters don’t go
to the extremes we do. This offers them an advantage in bidding projects. The added attention to detail does add to the time required to complete a project. Client’s can’t possibly be aware of this detail, until after the job is done.

That neither helps them or us. More often than not we are the higgh bidder, which unless the client is aware of our work, is a strike against us. Many competiters also bid low, and hit the client with change orders. Anything not specifically pointed out on the plans is an extra. We refuse to operate like this, as we feel it is less than honorable.

Anyway, these jigs keep us competitive, and are easy to make. We keep sheets of Lexan or Plexiglass on hand in 1/8”, 1/4”, 1/2”, and 3/4” for when the need arises to make a specialty jig.

Keeping small pieces of plexiglass is a great idea, as you never know when you’ll need it.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

19 comments so far

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 4222 days

#1 posted 07-12-2007 09:33 PM

Good stuff Lee!

I am thinking of making some vac-hold downs for my work bench and your idea with the plexi is great.
What kind of foam are you using?


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4511 days

#2 posted 07-12-2007 10:36 PM

Great blog. I’m pleased to hear that you have and will keep your higher standards. I think too often profit comes before quality and the fact that you are willing to bid honestly for the work you do is admirable. Very few people I know like getting hit with extra cost once the job starts, anyway. ;^)

-- Jesus is Lord!

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4339 days

#3 posted 07-12-2007 10:42 PM

Lee -

Great stuff! My only request is keep this kind of info coming – very helpful.


View Roger Strautman's profile

Roger Strautman

656 posts in 4334 days

#4 posted 07-12-2007 11:23 PM

It appears that most of your clients have money and so that higher $ isn’t as important as the quality and your reputation I’m sure is a great selling point. With that said I’m a commercial construction superintendent and I would rather work with a sub that is the high bid and doesn’t have extras. We have a electrical sub that works with us on design build projects and he has been known to give back $10,000 + to and owner because he was well over his profit margin. Thanks Lee!

-- " All Things At First Appear Difficult"

View Karson's profile


35148 posts in 4601 days

#5 posted 07-12-2007 11:55 PM

Lee I purchased some closed foam today and I’m going to try to make a jig for the toy making club.

We have to drill 2 1/2” circles in Plexiglas 1/8” thick. When we do that the piece of Plexiglas is now stuck in the hole saw. I’m going to make a vacuum jig to hold the Plexiglas to the base board, cut the piece out, and have it stay on the base. and then move the sheet of plexiglass to the next spot. We have to make 200 circles for a bank window. I need to make sure I have a line filter because I don’t want plexiglass sawdust in my vacuum pump.

On your cabinet 90 deg jig. you have 2 for the inside corners. Have you ever made any for the outside corners, or is that not a problem. Or do you use on the inside ?

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View markrules's profile


146 posts in 4316 days

#6 posted 07-13-2007 01:03 AM

Karson… If you can, rotate the drill slightly as you cut the holes. This will reduce the size of the plug while keeping the same outer diameter. The plug will fall out easier if it’s smaller than normal…

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4180 days

#7 posted 07-13-2007 01:17 AM

Hi Bob;

Really not my idea.

I buy it from a vacuum supplier, But Home Depot has some that will work. Basically a closed cell foam peel and stick tape, used for weather striping. Width isn’t important. Thickness is about 1/4 – 3/8”.

If you buy some cheap stuff, you can always order more over the internet. It does wear out, need need to be replaced on occasion.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4180 days

#8 posted 07-13-2007 01:18 AM

Hey Os,



-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4180 days

#9 posted 07-13-2007 01:21 AM

Hi David;

Like, I said until my fingers hurt! (or I run out of material).


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4180 days

#10 posted 07-13-2007 01:23 AM

Hi Karson,

I dont use them for outside corners, or I would have to fire myself. That’s my spot!.

I rarely use the inside corners either, but when you need them…


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1809 posts in 4287 days

#11 posted 07-13-2007 04:05 AM

Great stuff Lee. I’d love to see some of it in action.

-- Bob

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4180 days

#12 posted 07-13-2007 04:41 PM

Hi Bob;

Sound a bit like work. LOL


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4180 days

#13 posted 07-13-2007 04:50 PM


I’m running out the door, but I’ll try to answer that quickly.

Using a jig at your drill press, I would come up with a layout that has the vacuum hole next to the drill bit.

I would have the center bit in the hole saw stop prior to punturing the jig, and creating a new vacuum hole.

Check out the long dado jig, and you’ll notice the vacuum line is drilled and tapped into the edge of the plexiglass.

To do this, drill a 1/4” hole to the depth you want, then enlarge the hole at the edge and tap it for a fitting.

Keep in mind, that the plexi will crack easily, so don’t over tighten the fitting. Leaks are quite uncommon with these setups.

I hope this helps, gotta run.


P.s. Do filter the hose, so you don’t clog your system.

-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4180 days

#14 posted 07-14-2007 01:39 PM


With General Contracting being my main business , I fully understand what you mean.

I had an H.V.A.C. bid on a project of $ 56,000. At one of the initial meetings , and prior to starting to startiing the project, the architects and engineers were trying t score brownie points with the client, who was also present at the meet.

The mechanical engineer was claiming the bid was too high for the required work. So i said are you offering to do it for less? He said,”we don’t do that kind of work, we’re engineers”. My response to him was, “then how the hell would you know what it should cost”? I had three bids, alll within $ 5,000.00 of each other.
I had done a project with this engineer , probably 10 years back, and there were condensate problems. Water ws dripping thru the plaster ceilings. so I asked him, “have you made any special provisions to prevent condensate from being a problem? ” He said what would you do? I said,”I would hire a professional like you to design a system that dosen’t create a problem”. With that the owner started laughing .

Then the architect started on the electrical contract, which was $90,000.00. Again, I had three bids, one of which was about twelve percent lower.

The wanted me to use the lower priced one, which I refused to do. So this required an explaination to the client. I told him I’ve used both in the past, and I prefer to work with one I can count on to show up when needed, and I know will do the job properly.

Then I asked him if he was the lowest priced architect out there. He said, “of course not”.

Again, the owner starting laughing, and put a halt to the meeting. All of my terms were accepted.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View mot's profile


4922 posts in 4237 days

#15 posted 07-16-2007 08:19 PM

Lee, fantastic information. I’m teetering on overwhelmed.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

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