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Jigs #1: Templates and Jigs

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Blog entry by Lee A. Jesberger posted 2585 days ago 1225 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Templates and Jigs

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Whenever we do a project that has the potential to be built again, or if the design is somewhat difficult, we’ll spend the time to build a jig. This is a process that pays back big dividends, and has been practiced for hundreds of years.

In the first instance, it makes sense to speed up the process of duplicating it. This prevents you from having to record all the dimensions and engineering that went into the piece. A very big time saver.

In the second instance, I would rather make a mistake on a piece of plexiglass or M.D.F., than on an expensive piece of wood. (wood doesn’t grow on trees you know).

Mentally, it’s easier to create a shape on a piece of plexiglass, or M.D.F., simply because it’s “only a jig”. Somehow, that seems to take the pressure off. Cutting the final piece can keep you from moving forward on a project, because you fear making a mistake. I know that sounds silly, but it’s something I’ve witnessed, (and done), on many occasions. Jigs give you the confidence to move foward, knowing it’s right.

It’s much like seeing a person go from helper to mechanic over night. Same person, same knowledge and experience, just a new attitude. They just didn’t realize, they had the talent and knowledge. It truly is amazing to watch a person’s tranformation because they finally realized they knew how to do it. Now they’re working with confidence, instead of fear. They stop second guessing themselves, which leads to less mistakes.

Once the jig is created, and it’s perfect, making the final piece or duplicating it, is a breeze. The fear of mistake is eliminated in the jig making process. This is especially true when trying to duplicate something a couple years after the first one. The toughest part there, is remembering you have a jig for it, and where it is!

Jigs can be templates, or can be a method of holding the work piece to allow carving or machining.

Jigs designed to hold things can be altered to make the jig itself more useful. As the project progresses, new ideas come to mind, which brings about change to the jig. It’s a case of building the project and the jig together, as you move forward.

If you’re not already doing so, you should add jig and template making to your woodworking repertoire.

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com



16 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2785 days


#1 posted 2585 days ago

it does make sense to create/use one.
I know the “don’t screw up NOW” feeling as you approach the end of a project. GULP :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6646 posts in 2603 days


#2 posted 2585 days ago

Hi Debbie,

Good to hear from you.

Yeah, that’s not so good huh?

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2785 days


#3 posted 2585 days ago

yah.. you hold your breath and your arms get tense and then they start to shake because of the muscle stress.. and then the tools wobble.. and voila – the very thing that you wanted to avoid, you created!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4435 posts in 2586 days


#4 posted 2585 days ago

You know, Lee, the biggest problem is storing all the templates and jigs after you use them. I’ve got them everywhere in the wood shop and patterns all over the saddle shop. sometime I think I build more patterns than anything else. However, I have to admit that the day I learned about templates and pattern routing was an epipheny for me. I have a set of edge elements that I use over and over. They are the basics of my “Frontier” stlye furniture. I use another set for three legged table legs. If you get the grain wrong and break one it is simple to do another. I have a delta spindle sander that I use a lot to create the patterns. It is a great help getting right to the line. Good info for everyone.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6646 posts in 2603 days


#5 posted 2585 days ago

Hi Debbie;

So, I’m not the only one?

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6646 posts in 2603 days


#6 posted 2585 days ago

Hi Thos,

Yeah, I know what you mean. When I see pictures of the shop after having just finished building it, the walls looked so empty.

Now they’re covered with patterns and jigs. I guess it’s our version of decorating the walls, just like the restaurants do with their memorobilia scattered around the place.

At least it looks “lived in”.

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View Mario's profile

Mario

902 posts in 2675 days


#7 posted 2584 days ago

I am considering putting my jigs up in the attic as I have room up there, they do not need climate control and are not used every day. I think that I will build a storage area in the rafters and keep them there. Any other Ideas?

-- Hope Never fails

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 2938 days


#8 posted 2584 days ago

...and I stand there staring at this twisted chunk of MDF with a blank stare…I don’t remember what this goes to…I’m not even sure what it is suppose to do…I’ll probably need it some day so I better save it….

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6646 posts in 2603 days


#9 posted 2584 days ago

Hi Mario;

I can’t see any reason not to, other than you might forget what you have.

I’m about out of wall space, so I’ll have to find a solution soon myself.

Sounds like a great shop size to me! (all except that building construction costs you mentioned).

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6646 posts in 2603 days


#10 posted 2584 days ago

Hello Dennis;

sounds very familiar!

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View mot's profile

mot

4911 posts in 2660 days


#11 posted 2584 days ago

Great idea. I have the same problem with trying to not only store them, but then to catalog them. I’ve run into trouble, recently, of not knowing what the heck the jig was for.

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

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6646 posts in 2603 days


#12 posted 2584 days ago

Hey Tom;

Me too; But when I need it I somehow manage to find it.

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View Karson's profile

Karson

34869 posts in 3024 days


#13 posted 2584 days ago

Great Idea Lee. I’ve made some full size patterns on Plywood but not as a router jig. Just to affirm the angles that need to be cut etc.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6646 posts in 2603 days


#14 posted 2584 days ago

Hello Karson,

You bring up a good point which I failed to mention. On projects, such as the library stairs, all layout was done on a sheet of plywood, of M.D.F., which I used for determining the diamater of the post and overall unit.

I also made a pattern of the step, so I could use it for the steps, both in cutting it out, and in laying it out on the plywood.

I was able to determine the proper spacing, and angles on the steps. I actually screwed the post of that project to the plywood, so it was held verticaly. This enabled me to be certain I was laying it out right.

I often draw the full size patterns on 1/4” M.D.F. to take measurements from.

Another detail I didn’t mention was the fact that the pattern can be attached with double stick tape..

Thanks for bringing up this important detail.

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View Obi's profile

Obi

2213 posts in 2861 days


#15 posted 2584 days ago

That twisted piece of MDF Dennis is talking about was the scrap from a jig he remembers. The scrap is useless and should be thrown away… but he can’t remember so he’ll keep it

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