Why not use plywood runners for jigs?

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Blog entry by spaids posted 07-01-2008 05:16 PM 3273 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

It seems that in order to avoid a jig getting lose in your table saw slots that people like to use UHMW plastic or even Aluminum. Couldn’t we just use 3/4 or 1/2 ply cut into strips? I thought because of how its made that ply was very stable to the changes of the seasons. What am I missing here?

Also, let me know if you think a blog is not the correct forum for this type of discussion.

-- Wipe the blood stains from your blade before coming in.--

12 comments so far

View lew's profile


12017 posts in 3719 days

#1 posted 07-01-2008 05:59 PM

I never thought about using plywood. Maybe the real good stuff- Baltic birch with no voids.

Also, thin plywood may be difficult to get a smooth enough “finish” so as to reduce friction to slide in the miter slot.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3691 days

#2 posted 07-01-2008 06:12 PM

i thought the stability is lost when cut to small pieces.

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3838 days

#3 posted 07-01-2008 06:17 PM

That’s what I do sometimes. Works fine. A lot of my jigs are one-time use so I make them quick, dirty and cheap.

-- Happy woodworking!

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 3717 days

#4 posted 07-01-2008 07:26 PM

I would think that it might work well to begin with, but the lateral stresses over the long haul woul cause the runner to fall apart.

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4063 days

#5 posted 07-01-2008 07:27 PM

I am on Blake’s team for this one.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3859 days

#6 posted 07-01-2008 07:30 PM

I’ve used Baltic birch for runners with no issues.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4263 days

#7 posted 07-01-2008 08:41 PM

It seems like a good use for leftover plywood pieces, put them to work.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4278 days

#8 posted 07-01-2008 10:04 PM

On a jig that would get 100’s of hours use, I’d go with aluminum. Most things I use plywood or even oak or maple.

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4210 days

#9 posted 07-02-2008 11:27 AM

I’m with Dennis, but if you’re just gonna use it a couple times use the scraps.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Taigert's profile


593 posts in 3804 days

#10 posted 07-02-2008 12:15 PM

I agree with Todd and Dnnis as well. If it’s a jig for cutting miters or say a crosscut sled that you are going to use day in and day out, then it pays to use aluminum or UHMW. But for a single use throw away, scraps “Rule”.

-- Taigert - Milan, IN

View surplusdealdude's profile


45 posts in 3974 days

#11 posted 07-02-2008 04:15 PM

I basically agree with the others – if you’re only going to use the jigs once or twice, scraps are fine.

But if you’re going to use it hundreds of times, UHMW will not only last longer, but it will reduce the friction ( which will save you having to put your arm in a cast from the overwork ;-) )

Instead of using aluminum, though, I’d use delrin – it’s a plastic with a lot more rigidity than UHMW and it’s much more slippery – it makes UHMW look like sandpaper as far as slippery goes.

-- surplusdealdude

View Jon3's profile


497 posts in 4069 days

#12 posted 07-07-2008 07:21 PM

While you certainly could, I made a giant stack of runners at once out of some leftover cherry. I just planed it to be the perfect fit for my slots, then sliced off a big stack of runners. I only ended up using a few though. There just aren’t that many jigs I’ve needed (yet).

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