What material do you use for you jigs?

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Forum topic by AJswoodshop posted 05-27-2013 01:28 AM 1603 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1057 posts in 2182 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


16272 posts in 4124 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 1863 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


116906 posts in 3483 days

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

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

-- Custom furniture

View NiteWalker's profile


2736 posts in 2483 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


2638 posts in 2183 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

20091 posts in 3011 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 1980 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 2483 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 (online now)

Monte Pittman

28184 posts in 2244 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


1017 posts in 2971 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


7873 posts in 3282 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


30147 posts in 2773 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

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View AJswoodshop's profile


1057 posts in 2182 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


4605 posts in 2257 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 3386 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

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