|Review by pendledad||posted 10-08-2012 03:53 PM||3296 views||1 time favorited||8 comments|
I was trying to determine the best method for joining together my radiator covers. I didn’t have time for traditional joinery like mortise & tenon. I needed something where I could build 4 radiator covers in about two days (very fast for a newcomer like me). I was going between a biscuit joiner and pocket screws. I finally decided on pocket screws because I didn’t want to deal with the gluing and drying. I also liked the fact that I could disassemble the pieces if I made a mistake along the way (which I did).
I decided on the master system because I didn’t want to waste lots of time lining up the smaller jigs and manually clamping them in place on the wood. I wanted the ability to bring the wood to the jig to save time. I can always bring the jig to the work if needed, but having the master system makes quick work of repetitive tasks.
Compared to the $99 kit, this has the face clamps, dust collection, and a couple other perks like a stop gauge. I didn’t really think I’d use the dust collection adapter, but I purchased the master system anyways.
Let me first say that the face clamps (any brand) are ESSENTIAL. They are so easy to use when driving the screws, and the same clamps hold the jig to your workbench. It was nice they included a pair in the master kit, but I could have just bought some from HF too.
The dust collector was easily worth its weight in gold. There are a few perks which you don’t realize until using it. First off, it removes the sawdust from the hole as you are drilling. This allows your drill to just worry about the hole instead of fighting through a mound of dust as well. I am sure it greatly helped my little 12V Dewalt drill the 160 screws on a single battery. (More about my DeWalt review here). I drilled about 4 holes without the attachment and quickly realized what a gigantic mess it was going to make. The second benefit is that the suction from the shop vac actually pulls the wood into the jig. So when I was drilling both ends of a rail, the suction would semi-clamp the wood in place while I used the clamp on the jig to lock it in. It allowed me to get it in the right place and not use my hands to squeeze it and keep it from moving. Not that this is a big benefit, but I liked how it pulled the board tight and then I could clamp it all down with the jig. Very clean, very efficient.
The jig itself is idiot proof. I didn’t bother watching the DVD, I didn’t have time. I just opened the kit and read the 3 pages in the quickstart booklet. I realized then that I purchased the incorrect sized screws and had to go back to the store, but that was my error. 1x material joined to 1x material (3/4”) requires 1-1/4” screws. I bought 1-1/2” screws by accident. Anyways, the quickstart guide gave you an idea of what holes to use (A, B, or C) for different sized boards. You line up the board on the outside edge of the guide, and just drill down through the right holes. Effortless, fast, and precise.
I drilled ~160 holes with the jig across my 4 radiator covers. Every single hole came out perfect. I didn’t have any alignment issues and all the screws drove perfectly. The face clamps ensured everything lined up as you sunk the screws. I put together 4 radiator cover carcasses in 1 day (very fast for me). I’m so glad I bought this jig because I don’t know what I would have done otherwise.
I guess you could add glue to the mating surfaces if you wanted a 100% tight joint that will never move … but I did mine glue free. Good thing too because I put the bottom rail on the top for the bathroom cover and I had to take it apart to fix it. I couldn’t have done that with adding glue.
The kit also comes with some plugs to hide the holes, but I will probably never use these. I like woodworking and I felt that using this jig was cheating. I didn’t use any classical methods of joinery in this project and that makes me feel guilty. But this project was more about assembly and creating rather than woodworking and hobby projects. My kids can get severely burned on my steam radiator covers so I needed to build these fast. That said I am extremely happy with my purchase and I’ll be using this jig many times in the future. Dust free and fast, with a great looking result.