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To make or To buy a jig, that is the question?

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Forum topic by WoodNSawdust posted 05-14-2015 03:55 PM 1101 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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WoodNSawdust

1417 posts in 636 days


05-14-2015 03:55 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question jigs projects

I used to make all my jigs and in the process use almost all of my time making them. There is certainly a level of satisfaction in saying that is a jig well made. But, it certainly cuts down on the time to make projects. This is leading me more and more to buy a jig rather than build it. This results in more time to make projects.

What are your views? If you had 20 hours a week in the shop would you prefer to spend it making a jig or buy the jig and spend the time making projects?

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith


17 replies so far

View HornedWoodwork's profile

HornedWoodwork

222 posts in 674 days


#1 posted 05-14-2015 04:03 PM

I find that most of my projects are one-offs, and they generally require a jig or two. While many of these jigs are reusable for other projects the majority aren’t. So for things like joints, splines, and certain shapping tasks, I think buying a well made jig is perfectly fine. In other areas it may not be possible or economical as you aren’t likely to reuse the jig.

I have limited time in the shop and I want to make the thing, not goof around with other stuff. So I’m like you, I take the most direct path to completion as long as it makes sense in the long run.

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

View Rob's profile

Rob

704 posts in 2531 days


#2 posted 05-14-2015 04:05 PM

If you have ample time but no money, make them. If you have ample money but no time, buy them. The tough call is what to do when you have neither a lot of money nor a lot of time. Maybe flip a coin or just make every other one.

Personally if I had 20 hrs/wk in the shop, that’s more than I have right now so I’d probably make the jigs. But if I was retired and only had 20 hrs/wk in the shop, I might opt to buy more jigs.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert - http://woodworking.stackexchange.com

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

4203 posts in 1659 days


#3 posted 05-14-2015 04:05 PM

I make my own.. I like making them, and can usually design them so it suits my needs better than what I can buy. Price (free) is better as well :)

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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nkawtg

204 posts in 711 days


#4 posted 05-14-2015 04:05 PM

There are two factors I sometimes consider when making a jig, cost of materials vs cost of a store bought jig and time.
But I tend chuck that and make my own jig anyway because I’m still working the wood.

View DKV's profile

DKV

3940 posts in 1964 days


#5 posted 05-14-2015 04:12 PM

If you’re woodworking to earn a living then buy the jig. More projects finished, more income. If you’re woodworking for pleasure then making the jig is part of the pleasure of creating the end project.

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

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MrRon

3926 posts in 2703 days


#6 posted 05-14-2015 04:13 PM

I don’t understand what you mean by “buying” a jig. To me, a jig is custom fitted to your project. The only jigs I can think of that are universal are dovetail and box joint jigs. To me, every jig is different.

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WoodNSawdust

1417 posts in 636 days


#7 posted 05-14-2015 05:29 PM



I don t understand what you mean by “buying” a jig. To me, a jig is custom fitted to your project. The only jigs I can think of that are universal are dovetail and box joint jigs. To me, every jig is different.

- MrRon

I was thinking of the Rockler spline jig, the xxx dovetail jig, the Incra box joint jig, the Incra hinge drilling jig, the xxx self-centering jig to drill pen blanks that also presses the parts together. All of these can be made but I would rather be making gifts or working towards an inventory to sell.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View jmartel's profile

jmartel

6565 posts in 1610 days


#8 posted 05-14-2015 05:36 PM

I vote building. A jig won’t take you 20 hours to make. Glue and screw (or brad nails), and most jigs can be done in an hour or two.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

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bondogaposis

4020 posts in 1811 days


#9 posted 05-14-2015 06:05 PM

It depends what you consider a jig is. For instance I bought a router lift, you can make them, and I almost did but then decided time would be better spent making other stuff. Almost all of my jigs are simple and quick to build. I dislike jigs w/ a lot of moving parts and complicated builds. I’d much rather work on projects. Having said that, I like to dedicate at least every fourth or fifth project to a shop project, some times they are jigs and sometimes they are to solve a storage problem. I also take a lot more care making a jig that I know I will use repeatedly versus one that has a one time use. Some jigs are not worth making, because the manufactured alternatives so cheap and superior. I think feather boards fall into this category, I have a lot that I made when I was starting out but now they are cheap enough I buy them. Then there is stuff like clamping cauls, why would anybody buy them? Easy to make from scraps, no moving parts, just can’t see buying stuff like that. My answer is I do both, buy some jigs and make others. It is a balance between time and money.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View jesinfla's profile

jesinfla

274 posts in 597 days


#10 posted 05-14-2015 06:22 PM

My view is this:

Woodworking: I try to make my own as much as possible – simply because it helps me learn a LOT about my tools and the wood I use (mostly crappy left overs from various resources). I’ve make 7 what I consider jigs so far – 90 degree layout, 2 TS sleds, a router table/stand, a jig saw table/stand,4’ ripping guide and an 8’ ripping guide most of them I will get more than one use out of.

Now, if we were talking home repair, appliance repair, yard work, landscaping and other tasks of which I am neither a fan of nor know much about and have little to no interest in learning about, I buy the tool/hire a professional.

There are 2 concepts I use to make these decisions for me:

One is the Time value of money – (time has an impact on the value of cash flow) money is worth more now than it is later/tomorrow. If the item is relatively inexpensive as opposed to taking a significant amount of work to produce myself – it’s a purchase.

Example 1: router table/stand I made – was a learning curve and valuable asset. To purchase new: $200.00, cost to create myself – $0 materials + time (value of time here is insignificant since what was learned was more valuable than my time) – outcome – Made myself

Example 2: My house needed painting – do it myself or hire? Hire – I could do it myself and take a week or longer, run the risk of hurting myself on the 2nd story or hire a pro. Outcome – hire a pro – My time and health is worth a lot more than doing this myself.

The other concept I use is my time value vs cost – If the item in question costs significantly less than the projected cost of me creating it myself (with no other value outstanding, like the learning mentioned above) using both materials and hourly rate as modifiers – it’s a purchase.

Example 1: Kreg hole jig – purchased $13.00 – to create myself – $0 materials + 2-3 hours time (using a liberal hourly rate of $40.00 $80 – $120.00) – there was no learning value here that I was aware of at the time – outcome – purchased – My time is worth a lot more than doing this myself.

Example 2: Needed a new door installed in my garage. To do it myself would have taken 2 days (using a liberal hourly rate of $40.00 * 16 = $640.00) – I’ve never done it before and after reading about leveling, sealing and what not 2 days was about right and hoping I would get it right. Hire a pro – took him 3 hours cost $380 (included door). No brainer here. – My time is worth a lot more than doing this myself.

I know that’s a long drawn out explanation, but your question relies on what you perceive as valuable to be answered.

-- They said I could be anything... So I became Sarcastic! They also said making drawers is easy... I think they lied :(

View moke's profile

moke

860 posts in 2236 days


#11 posted 05-19-2015 05:29 PM

I can certainly see wisdom/value in every post here…but here is my take….

I have done both, I try to research all the potential problems with each jig, but somethimes I miss things. I can assume (I maybe wrong) that a purchased jig, if from a quality company, has addressed some of the limitations and issues that could arise. So I have purchased some….simple ones or really specialty ones I have built. ie: I like to segment pens…..I do not know of commerically available jigs to do the glueing or cutting of the segs.

I did built a crosscut sled, after reading about the 5 cut method of checking accuracy. But I was concerned about it the whole time until it was done!!!
One of the quality builders of jigs and sleds, that I have found is Woodhaven. They are about 70 miles from me and seem to have very quality work. They are a little pricey though.
Just my .02
Mike

View Rob's profile

Rob

704 posts in 2531 days


#12 posted 05-19-2015 05:49 PM

Sometimes a manufactured jig has calibrations or adjustments that would be complicated or tedious to reproduce in a homemade jig with whatever tools you happen to have. Other times, the manufactured jig doesn’t really offer any benefit over what you can make in your shop, and it doesn’t take much more time to make the jig from scratch than it does to assemble the mass-produced version.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert - http://woodworking.stackexchange.com

View redSLED's profile

redSLED

790 posts in 1352 days


#13 posted 05-20-2015 02:48 AM

You can’t just throw out all that leftover wood – therefore you have to make your own jigs!

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

3926 posts in 2703 days


#14 posted 05-20-2015 08:39 PM



My view is this:

Woodworking: I try to make my own as much as possible – simply because it helps me learn a LOT about my tools and the wood I use (mostly crappy left overs from various resources). I ve make 7 what I consider jigs so far – 90 degree layout, 2 TS sleds, a router table/stand, a jig saw table/stand,4 ripping guide and an 8 ripping guide most of them I will get more than one use out of.

Now, if we were talking home repair, appliance repair, yard work, landscaping and other tasks of which I am neither a fan of nor know much about and have little to no interest in learning about, I buy the tool/hire a professional.

There are 2 concepts I use to make these decisions for me:

One is the Time value of money – (time has an impact on the value of cash flow) money is worth more now than it is later/tomorrow. If the item is relatively inexpensive as opposed to taking a significant amount of work to produce myself – it s a purchase.

Example 1: router table/stand I made – was a learning curve and valuable asset. To purchase new: $200.00, cost to create myself – $0 materials + time (value of time here is insignificant since what was learned was more valuable than my time) – outcome – Made myself

Example 2: My house needed painting – do it myself or hire? Hire – I could do it myself and take a week or longer, run the risk of hurting myself on the 2nd story or hire a pro. Outcome – hire a pro – My time and health is worth a lot more than doing this myself.

The other concept I use is my time value vs cost – If the item in question costs significantly less than the projected cost of me creating it myself (with no other value outstanding, like the learning mentioned above) using both materials and hourly rate as modifiers – it s a purchase.

Example 1: Kreg hole jig – purchased $13.00 – to create myself – $0 materials + 2-3 hours time (using a liberal hourly rate of $40.00 $80 – $120.00) – there was no learning value here that I was aware of at the time – outcome – purchased – My time is worth a lot more than doing this myself.

Example 2: Needed a new door installed in my garage. To do it myself would have taken 2 days (using a liberal hourly rate of $40.00 * 16 = $640.00) – I ve never done it before and after reading about leveling, sealing and what not 2 days was about right and hoping I would get it right. Hire a pro – took him 3 hours cost $380 (included door). No brainer here. – My time is worth a lot more than doing this myself.

I know that s a long drawn out explanation, but your question relies on what you perceive as valuable to be answered.

- jesinfla


There have been many posts asking that same question. That is about the best explanation I have ever read re: building vs purchasing.

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

3926 posts in 2703 days


#15 posted 05-20-2015 08:50 PM

I also have another reason to build over purchase. I am retired (80), and although one could say my time (or what’s left of it) is more valuable, I am still learning. I don’t have a lot of money for purchases. My interests lie in learning and doing. My hobby is building model trains (large ones) and I derive pleasure in finding ways to build from scratch without a lot of cost. I can find common household items that I can modify. A 2×4 or a plastic for sale sign is the building material I use. All the tools I will ever need (or want) have been accumulated over the years, so my projects cost next to nothing but my time. One of my design philosophies is to build as much as possible using only common materials and not using store bought hardware, other than screws and nails.If I am building a bureau, I would also make the knobs rarther than buy them. I will use wood drawer slides rather than metal slides.

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