What wood do you use for jigs, etc?

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Forum topic by greatview posted 01-08-2012 07:50 PM 3823 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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126 posts in 2994 days

01-08-2012 07:50 PM

I’ve essentially switched to almost exclusively MDO which my local lumber stocks in 1/2” (good both sides) and 3/4” (good both sides and good one side) With the paper facing it is easy to do a layout directly on the surface and, if I need to paint, it accepts paint very well. I’ve also used it where I might have used birch veneer that I might have painted. Same edge problem but it is a really nice surface. And, it is really waterproof and will work for out side applications. (Around here, some of the highway signs are made from it.)

About the only downside I’ve discovered is that glue doesn’t adhere well to the paper facing. But with a bit of sanding to roughen the surface, glus will stick.

-- Tom, New London, NH

22 replies so far

View Gene Howe's profile (online now)

Gene Howe

9764 posts in 3265 days

#1 posted 01-08-2012 08:28 PM

MDO, MDF, BB. are my favorite jig materials. Of those, I’d say that I prefer BB. Cost/benefit analysis.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View NiteWalker's profile


2736 posts in 2413 days

#2 posted 01-08-2012 08:49 PM

I use baltic birch for most of jigs and router templates.
I used to use MDF a lot, but try to stay away from that now.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 3392 days

#3 posted 01-08-2012 08:56 PM

BB and MDF so far. MDF seems to hold up pretty good, but oh the dust it makes. I get dust in every corner of my shop when I work MDF.

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2911 days

#4 posted 01-08-2012 08:59 PM

I usually just grab what is handy.

However, I learned a lesson last summer I will share. W needed templates for the pew ends we were making for our church. Because we were producing a large quantity of them, I made 3 identical templates and I used OSB because I had some available. We used a template to draw the shape of the pew end in pencil. Then we cut them out crudely with a band saw and/or jig saw. Then, with a template attached with a couple of screws that would be in a hidden location, we router the edges with a straight bit and guide bearing.

My discovery was that after routing several pew ends (between 10 and 15), the OSB started to break down causing an uneven edge on the pew end.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Ben's profile


302 posts in 2167 days

#5 posted 01-08-2012 09:12 PM

I agree with Rich. I use whatever is handy and make a lot of jigs on the fly as I need them. I will use anything I can do get what I need done. Jigs don’t need to be pretty at all, just functional. A lot of my jigs are one time use, so I don’t spend a ton of time or waste good wood on them. Some that I know I will get a lot of use out of, I build to last. I have a general aversion to OSB and MDF, so I rarely even have any in the shop

-- Welcome to downtown Coolsville, Population: US! --Hogarth Hughes

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2526 days

#6 posted 01-09-2012 05:02 AM

MDO? I have always used BB ply but recently my sled has developed a bow in it which is very disappointing. It has never been wet and is stored on edge so this shouldn’t have happened.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View handi's profile


135 posts in 4276 days

#7 posted 01-22-2012 05:04 AM

If you have not tried it, you need to look at phenolic faced plywood. Comes in 1/2” and 3/4” (I typically make jigs in 1/2”)

Basically, it is better quality baltic birch (no voids) that is used for concrete forms. The two faces are coated in a thin layer of phenolic. Both Rockler and Woodcraft sell it. It is pricey, but stays very stable and machines well.

Phenolic Faced Ply

I especially like it for jigs that I intend to use for a long time. You can see some of it used in my insert throat plate.


-- Woodcademy TV is now streaming on Amazon Prime!

View Bobsboxes's profile


1294 posts in 2500 days

#8 posted 01-22-2012 05:16 AM

Next trip thur denver I hope to get a sheet or two of the phenolic ply but in the mean time I use only BB. mdf dust is not good. I think you can get 4 X 8 sheet of the phenolic ply at whitecap supply. With the plastic face it is very stable.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2526 days

#9 posted 01-22-2012 06:49 AM

No one has told me what MDO stands for. PLEASE???

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2191 days

#10 posted 01-22-2012 06:53 AM

pretty much whatever 3/4 plywood I have laying around. I just make them to do what must be done, not to look pretty.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View Bagtown's profile


1739 posts in 3567 days

#11 posted 01-22-2012 07:12 AM

gfadvm – I had to look it up too.

Have a look here.


-- Mike - In Fort McMurray Alberta

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2526 days

#12 posted 01-23-2012 01:30 AM

Thanks Mike. I have never seen this and not sure where to get it in my area. It sounds like it would be good for jig material. Phenolic ply seems very pricey here. Maybe this is less expensive. Andy

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 3171 days

#13 posted 01-23-2012 03:08 AM

Where strength is required I like Baltic Birch plywood, otherwise Mdf for it’s flatness. The phenolic ply is excellent stuff and when I can pick up some offcuts at a cheap price I buy it for jigs.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View JAAune's profile


1769 posts in 2153 days

#14 posted 01-23-2012 03:19 AM

My preference is cabinet grade particle board since it’s the cheapest and is stiffer than MDF. If that’s not available then it’s usually scraps of whatever is on hand. If a smooth, durable edge is needed then my choice is usually MDF with epoxy-coated edges.

Jigs intended for long-term use are made with more care going into material selection.

-- See my work at and

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2191 days

#15 posted 01-23-2012 03:34 AM

particle board is not cabinet grade…

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

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