What material do you use for you jigs?

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Forum topic by AJswoodshop posted 05-27-2013 01:28 AM 1617 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1057 posts in 2242 days

05-27-2013 01:28 AM

Topic tags/keywords: jig

There are a lot of different kinds of materials you can use for you shop jigs. I like MDF, it’s flat and is really cheap, but I’ve heard it doesn’t hold fasteners well such as screws, or nails. Birch plywood seems to be the most popular, but it’s hard to find a piece that not warp, or has cracks in it. I have never used it but heard that Finland plywood works well, but where do you get it?

Thanks for reading, I would love to hear you choices.

22 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4184 days

#1 posted 05-27-2013 01:42 AM

I usually make do with scraps of whatever I have laying around the shop. Usually it’s run-of-the-mill birch ply from HD or Lowes. I use 3/4” whenever feasible, because I find it tends to be flatter.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View LoydMoore's profile


105 posts in 1922 days

#2 posted 05-27-2013 01:48 AM

I use 1/2” Baltic Birch for cut off sleds and MDF for most other jigs.

-- Loyd, San Angelo, TX

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3543 days

#3 posted 05-27-2013 01:53 AM

Scraps of plywood, mdf or whatever I have on hand.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View NiteWalker's profile


2736 posts in 2543 days

#4 posted 05-27-2013 01:59 AM

I use baltic birch plywood and sometimes MDF.
3/4” does tend to be flatter.
MDF holds coarse thread screws just fine. Just make sure to pre-drill and countersink. I really think the “MDF doesn’t hold screws well” is another woodworking tall tale. The only trouble I ever had with mdf and screws was splitting, and that was before I started pre-drilling. Not a single issue since. In fact, I have a small cart I made out of MDF held together with nothing but drywall screws. 7 years old and still going strong. It has my 10” bandsaw on it now.

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

View kdc68's profile


2649 posts in 2243 days

#5 posted 05-27-2013 02:08 AM

Whatever I have on hand…mdf, 3/4 birch.

+1 Nitewalker...predrilling and countersinking is a must…, I have experienced the mdf splitting, but also “mushrooming” if I don’t countersink the predrilled holed

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20295 posts in 3071 days

#6 posted 05-27-2013 02:12 AM

I use 1/2, 5/8 or 3/4 maple plywood that is guaranteed flat over a 5’x5’ piece. Some of it is 13 ply. I get scraps from a guy that make steel rule dies. That is what I turned the mallets out of and it has no voids in it…...........Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View REO's profile


928 posts in 2040 days

#7 posted 05-27-2013 02:51 AM

if it is something that I will use and want to keep around iw will pop for alu minum and UHMW. one shot or short term jigs and fixtures whatever. i have used bondo as well.

View NiteWalker's profile


2736 posts in 2543 days

#8 posted 05-27-2013 05:37 AM

Oh, add plexi to the list. It makes for great routing templates.

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

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

28934 posts in 2304 days

#9 posted 05-27-2013 10:23 AM

I have no mdf or plywood in the shop. So whatever scraps are available.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View pmayer's profile


1026 posts in 3031 days

#10 posted 05-27-2013 10:27 AM

It depends how much I plan to use the jig. For jigs that will get regular use I typically use baltic birch. For project-specific jigs I will use whatever scrap I have on hand.

-- PaulMayer,

View knotscott's profile


7980 posts in 3341 days

#11 posted 05-27-2013 10:41 AM

Whatever scraps are on hand…..MDF, MDO, ply, plexi, dimensional PVC, aluminum. I’m not fussy about it, and I can’t recall ever purchasing materials for jigs.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View helluvawreck's profile


30765 posts in 2832 days

#12 posted 05-27-2013 11:51 AM

I think that it is best to use a systematic approach to jig making so that one jig can be easily convertible to different tasks so that the number of jigs needed is less. That way less material is required in the first place.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View AJswoodshop's profile


1057 posts in 2242 days

#13 posted 05-27-2013 12:33 PM

Thanks for all of the advice. I’ll try coarse thread screws on MDF, Thanks again!

View bondogaposis's profile (online now)


4683 posts in 2317 days

#14 posted 05-27-2013 12:36 PM

Whatever I have on hand, mdf, plywood, particle board, solid wood. I do like 1/4” mdf for templates and patterns.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3446 days

#15 posted 05-27-2013 12:38 PM

I will sometimes use what ever is available, but I prefer MDF. I think its more stable and I have less trouble with
warping etc.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

showing 1 through 15 of 22 replies

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