Tips,Techniques and Jigs

In each episode Steve shares his tips and techniques.  He has made a variety of jigs to help create his projects. Here are a few of them.  Share your favorite tip, technique or jig with us. 

I got tired of replacing my store bought plastic Jointer push paddles.  They never seem big enough and the rubber padding wears out quickly, resulting in a loose grip on the board and the paddle sliding along the wood.  Here's a simple yet very effective solution, also a great way to use up some plywood scraps.  I cut two pieces of 3/4 inch ply into a 5" x 8" piece.  I then run a 3/4" wide groove down the center of the boards.  I cut two pieces for the handles ( I traced my table saw push stick ) and glue them in the groove.  I countersink a couple of screw holes in the underside and screw through the base and into the handles.  On the top  of the bases I countersink and screw four holes and then use four no# 12, 3/4" long screws and screw them in until they just protrude through the bottom by a 32" to a 16".
These paddles work very well.  Jointing is the first procedure in milling stock so a small hole in the top of a rough board doesn't matter, it will disappear in the planer.  These paddles grip the board very well, I've never had my hands slip  or skip along  aboard yet.  If I have a board that is close to finished dimensions I'll go back and use my trusty push stick so I don't mar the finished surface.   

In episode six I made a taper leg jig out of some scraps of plywood.  You can buy a commercial taper leg jig through a number of woodworking catalog stores but save yourself some money and make your own, it's fast, easy and best of all it works.  I started by cutting a scrap of plywood to 6 inches wide ( wide enough for my hand to pass safely by the table saw blade without using a push stick ) . The length of the board is approximately 3 inches  longer than the length of my leg stock.  Starting at one edge I drew my taper on the plywood base.  In my case it was a line 22 1/2 inches long starting at  the top at 1 1/8 inch away from the edge tapering down to 3/4 inch away from the bottom edge.  I then used a second scrap piece of plywood, narrower than the base, cut to fit and glued and screwed it to the base following the taper.  I then glued and screwed a stop block at the end for the leg to rest against.  I attached a couple of blocks to the surface and screwed a couple of toggle clamps to the blocks.  The entire jig took about 1/2 an hour to make.  The only cost of the jigs was the price of the clamps. I attached a couple of pieces of sticky back sandpaper to the base to help keep the legs in place.

In episode three I made a set of tea lights.  I used three different jigs to make them.  The tea lights have perforated squares cut out of them on both faces.  I used two jigs to cut these perforations.  I took my tea light stock and  milled it to 15 " long x 3 1/2 " wide x 1/2" thick.  I took a piece of plywood and made it 1 " larger on all sides than the stock.  I cut  1" wide pieces of ply and glued them around the edge of my plywood base, creating a craddle to hold my stock snugly so I could pass it over the table saw blade without it moving. I used one base to cut the dados and grooves on the outside face and the other to cut them  on the inside face.  I drilled a hole in the top of the bases wide enough so I could poke my pencil through to help push the stock out once I had cut all of the perforations (dados)
I set up my dado blade to 3/8" wide and 1/4" deep and use both craddles to cut the grooves.
I ran my craddle against the fence and cut a series of grooves at different widths and them turned the craddle end for end to cross cut dados at the same widths as the grooves.  I then took my stock and put it in jig no#3 to cut the 45 degree angles on both edges, inside face down on the saw.  The angled jig is a simple piece of ply cut to the width of my stock with a 45 degree miter cut on both sides.  I use two pieces of ply to act as stops to hold the material in place. I then set my saw fence to the width of my stock and ran one edge against the fence and made a cut then the other, resulting in two edges with perfect 45 degree miters on them.  I then crosscut my stock to the desired width and glue them together.  I use simple rubber bands as clamps, its long grain glue connection so nothing else is needed.
Watch episode three to see how the tea light are made.   

In episode five I made a circular coffee table.  The table is made up of four radius segments.  I made a very down and dirty flush trim jig to shape the segments using the router table and a flush trim bit.  I first drew the shape on a scrap piece of wafer board with a trammel and then cut close to the line on the band saw and then sanded to the line until I had the radius I needed.  I used a bottom bearing flush trim bit.  The jig/template rides against the bearing and the work piece gets cut.  I used this bit so I can see my work bring cut as opposed to a top bearing bit where the work is underneath my template.  The board is three inches larger than the actual radius in order to accommodate the cleats I attached at the right angle to align the boards and a place to put a couple of toggle clamps. I put a couple of pieces of sticky back sandpaper on the jig to help hold the workpiece in place It doesn't get any easier.  The jig worked well to cut and flush trim the four segments.

In episode ten Steve cuts a two sided taper on two gussetts for his outdoor table.  Watch how he cuts perfect tapers using a simple piece of plywood as the jig.

We are in the process of shooting another episode.  I'm building a toy chest with a frame and panel lid.  The panel is a piece if 3/4 " plywood, framed on three sides with pine.  The three corners are mitered and then splined.  Miter joints are weak.  The end grain surface needs to be reinforced.  If you don't want to see the joint you can use biscuits or hidden splines.  I chose to use splines.  I like the contrast.  I made a very simple yet very efficient jig to cut the spline grooves.  I took a piece of 3/4 " plywood and attached two pieces of pine that were cut at 45 degrees on one end.  I attached the pine pieces so that they met and were flush at the bottom of the ply.  This would be enough to do the job but I attached a second, narrower piece of ply to act as a support, adding stability, keeping the jig from rocking when being pushed through the saw blade and it holds the workpieces snuggly in place..
Make sure that you put the screws in high enough that the blade won't hit them when using the jig
I used a single blade on the saw and made two passes.  I cut splines out of 1/4' plywood stock.  My frame material was 3/4' thick so I simply created a 1/4' spline groove down the middle. A simple jig that works well and can be made out of material found in your scrap bin.    

We finished shooting and editing the Toy Chest episode.  It's available on this site and on youtube.
We started shooting another episode.  In this episode I'm building a toolbox with box/finger joints. 
I built to jigs to cut the box joints.  One jig is so simple yet very effective.  It attaches to the miter gauge. The other is adjustable. and has two runners that slide in the miter gauge slots of my table saw.

We are in the process of editing another episode.  In this episode I make a foosball table.  The dowel rods have notches cut into them to hold the 1/2" pieces of plywood that act like paddles to hit the ball.  I made a jig to cut the notches.  I used a piece of plywood that I cut a shallow groove in too cradle the 3/4" dowel pieces.  I attached two pieces of pine to the plywood base.  The pine pieces were rabbeted to hold the router.  On the underside of the pine I cut a groove to accommodate the dowel pieces.  I attached the pine to the plywood base just wide enough to act as a sled or cradle for the router.  The width of my router base equals the distance between the pine pieces.  I then slide a dowel rod through the grooves and stop at my measured lines.  I then hold the dowel in place with a hold down clamp that I made out of a piece of oak that I cut a 'V' groove in.  I tighten it down with screws.  I them slide my router across the sled and cut a 1/4 notch into the dowel.  The notch is 1/4" deep x 1" wide ( the size of he paddles )

When I made the shaker bench I had a few pine boards that needed to be glued together. Instead of hauling out the jointer and running the edges over it I made a quick jig for the table saw. The boards I was using were 1" x 8" dimensioned pine boards. I simply used a scrap piece of plywood that I made sure was square and had two parallel edges. I then attached a straight edge so that when I place one of the boards against it the edge of the board hung over approximately 1/4". I attached two toggle clamps to the straight edge to hold the boards in place.
Simply butt the board against the straight edge ( it doesn't have to be perfectly flush against it ), clamp and then set your saw fence so the plywood jig rest against the fence and the blade.
Make a cut. Do the same thing for the other board. Because it's pine the fresh sawn edges are fine for a glue up.
It very efficient any doesn't get any easier.

In a recent episdoe of the show I made a simple router circle cutting jig to rout/cut out the circular table top.  You can buy circle cutting jigs from woodworking mail order catalog stores but making this jig doesn't get any easier.  You can also make a similar jig for the band saw.   The jig consist of a piece of 1/2" plywood, the width of your router base and a little longer than the radius of your circle.
You can use thicker plywood but it's a little overkill.  Don't use anything thinner than a half inch, it won't hold your router base properly.  Now- I needed a 30 inch diameter table top, so I drilled a hole for my router bit to plunge through.  From the center of my straight router bit I measured 15 inches and drilled a very small hole.  I turned my table top blank over, good face down.  I attached my router to the plywood jig so the bit went through the center of the hole.  I then screwed the jig to the table top blank through the small reference hole I drilled.  Slowly move the router around in a radius.
The router should move freely on the screw but not to sloppy.  I start by taking an 1/8 inch cut.  Move the router around the diameter.  Repeat until you cut through your blank.  make sure to elevate the blank so you don't blow through and rout into your workbench.

In a recent episdoe I made a coopered ( curved ) top chest.  I joined the base together with finger/box joints.  There are many ways to create the joints but I made a simple jig for the router.  The chest base has three large finger/box joints joining the front and back to the sides.  I used a piece of 3/4 inch plywood and simply drew the male and fe,ale joints on the plywood.  I then attached a scrap piece of coprner molding to the plywood to act as a stop.  The jig is the exact size of the boards I used for the chest.  I attached the jig to the pine boards with double sided tape. I ct the bulk of the wood away on the band saw and then use my router and jig to trim flush the rest, revealing the joints.  You can use your boards on top of the jig, or the jig on top of your boards, depending on what type of router bit you use, a bottom bearing or top bearing bit.