Looking for advice on building production jigs.

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Forum topic by ScaryDAve posted 01-05-2011 10:20 AM 1596 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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31 posts in 3756 days

01-05-2011 10:20 AM

Topic tags/keywords: box jig glue clamp question production assembly

Although I usually build rustic furniture, I find myself with a job which requires making a large number of small wood boxes. This looks to be an ongoing adventure so I am looking to speed the process up as much as I can wherever I can. So various jigs are at the top of my list of priorities.

Cutting and drilling jigs are pretty straight forward but I am wondering about the assembly of the four sides. I am planning on dovetail or finger joints and would like to glue up 10 or more at a time. I would love to avoid going out and buying up lots of clamps right up front so I am thinking about 3/4” – 1” Plywood with rows of simple open top boxes mounted to it which the glued up boxes would then slide snugly into. Maybe even a top which includes a drilling jig so I can drill a small diameter hole down through the top of the 4 corner joints and strengthen them with a small brass rod.

Does this sound like a problem? Am I asking for trouble with glue sticking the projects into the jigs? Could I wax or oil the insides or use Formica? Can I just screw the jig walls to the base plywood or do I need to rout channels for the walls to sit into for strength?

This is going to be an entirely new learning experience for me so any advice is greatly appreciated.



-- Failures are successes in training.

6 replies so far

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4097 days

#1 posted 01-05-2011 10:36 AM

some glues wont stick to laminates but you dont want the glue to smear either. Perhaps have no clamping pressure on the actual corner joints but only far enough in to miss the squeeze out yet put pressure on the joints.

Any kind of home made cams/wedges will work on two sides if the jig is made right.

Its hard to explain in words, quite simple if I was hands on.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 3164 days

#2 posted 01-05-2011 01:37 PM

i make stuff in series regularely, make jigs for everything you can. they won’t always make you work faster, but they will allow you to have a consistent quality.
the rest is a matter of workflow, i don’t have enough clamps either. so i sand the parts i can clamp, i glue and clamp them, then i sand the next series, and do something else, when the glue is dry i glue and clamp the parts i prepared, i prepare the next series and sand the fisrt series again. and so forth. that way there are no holes in the workflow and you are not coninuously doing the same operation.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3318 days

#3 posted 01-05-2011 02:23 PM

if your box´s has the same size
then take a long board and make something like this

but with enoff room between them so you allso can use wedge´s on the oppesit direction
and glue one at a time (sort of)


View 489tad's profile


3472 posts in 3215 days

#4 posted 01-05-2011 03:55 PM

If I understand correctly you want to sandwich the boxes. I would use formica, groove the dividers and use threaded rod for the clamps, maybe one between every box. Make oversize knobs for the nuts to help with torque and speed. For repeated drilling I would use drill bushings. is a good source. Post what you come up with.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View CharleyL's profile


223 posts in 3568 days

#5 posted 01-05-2011 08:27 PM

If the boxes that you are building will be the same size, or nearly the same, the best cheap way that I’ve found to hold them square and clamp them together for production glue-up is to put the freshly glued and assembled box inside of a somewhat larger box. Use block spacers and wedges between the box being glued and the inside of the larger box to hold it tightly together, square, and somewhat in the center of the larger box “until the glue dries”. I put equal sized spacers on one side, then blocks and wedges on the opposite side to basicly push it into one corner. Don’t forget to put some spacers under the box being glued, or you may find out later that the two boxes have become one. The corner of the larger box will hold the smaller box square. Once you have enough larger boxes to use for clamping and enough spacers and wedges cut for that size glue-up you can assemble many boxes at a time without the need for expensive clamps and squaring techniques. You only need enough of these larger boxes, blocks, and wedges to hold the number of boxes that you can assemble in an hour or so, because the glue will be dry enough for you to remove your project box and re-use the large clamping box and wedges over again. With the time that it takes for me to apply glue and assemble my boxes I have never needed more than 6 of these clamping boxes. My clamping boxes are all 12” X 18” X 24” because all of the boxes that I have ever wanted to glue up in any quantity have never been larger than will fit in this size. I keep all of the blocks and wedges inside the box as sort of a box glue-up kit and store them in my shop attic until the next time. Sometimes I need to make some new spacer blocks when I make different size boxes, but I then just add these to the kits for possible use the next time (my boxes are getting full).


View ScaryDAve's profile


31 posts in 3756 days

#6 posted 01-05-2011 08:30 PM

Some good ideas here.
If I take bits and pieces from everyone who replied and put it all together I have my solution.

I want the jigs mounted to a permanent fixture so I can hang it up when not in use. I will be building a few of these for different size boxes so I want them to be easy to switch and ready to go.

So I will cut channels into the plywood base, and build the clamping boxes without corners. Bolting them from the underside. Maybe leaving one side attached to a lever handled jig clamp, cams or wedges.

Then I will build a top piece which fits into place. Then I will machine and install drilling guides into that piece and put stop bushings on the bits.

While one set is gluing up I can be cutting or sanding the previous and following sets.

I can see it clearly now. Thanks guys.
I’ll be sure to follow up with pictures of the finished jigs.


-- Failures are successes in training.

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