Handy tools #5: 45 degree jig

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Blog entry by Dave Polaschek posted 05-02-2018 11:00 PM 937 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Scratch stock Part 5 of Handy tools series Part 6: Octagonal Guillotine »

I used this shop-made jig while cutting dovetails for 135 degree corners (for making an octagonal box). It’s just a piece of 2×4 cut on the diagonal, then glued back together. The piece on the left above slides onto the piece on the right, and then the whole thing goes into a vise to hold the piece you’re working on at a 45 degree angle so you can saw on the level while cutting 45 degree angles in things.

I started using it “head-on” but quickly realized it was useful in other directions too.

Not much to it, but as I’ve discovered over the past year, 90% of hand tool woodworking is figuring out the work-holding. If you can hold the piece you’re working on steady, everything else gets a lot easier, and so it was with this jig.

Thanks for looking!

-- Dave - Minneapolis

11 comments so far

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1099 days

#1 posted 05-02-2018 11:09 PM

Very cleaver, Dave! You are on the money saying, ”If you can hold the piece you’re working on steady, everything else gets a lot easier.” I’m having to come up with some innovated holding jigs myself while I try my hand at carving. Peter Follansbee simply nails his carvings to the bench. I don’t think I’m quite ready to do that, yet!

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

4039 posts in 1034 days

#2 posted 05-02-2018 11:15 PM

I actually used sheetrock screws (and a cordless screwdriver!) to hold down pieces for the bonus box I built. All the work on the actual piece was done with hand tools, but I was in a hurry, and thought nothing of driving an angled screw into my bench to hold the 1/4” thick pieces in place so I could plane them. Same idea. Get the workholding down first.

-- Dave - Minneapolis

View ralbuck's profile


6094 posts in 2718 days

#3 posted 05-03-2018 12:27 AM

Neat jig and good advice too! I use a weird rack that I made from scrapwood when assembling the rockers for horses etc. I probably made that one 16-18 years ago now. It used swing pieces that I can then tighten the screws and hold the runners very solid while assembling the cross pieces.

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View Oldtool's profile


2785 posts in 2642 days

#4 posted 05-03-2018 01:13 AM

Good thinking out of the box.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View mikeacg's profile


1005 posts in 1509 days

#5 posted 05-03-2018 01:36 AM

I like it! You might make a hand tool guy out of me yet Dave!

-- Mike, A Yooper with a drawl,

View doubleDD's profile


8536 posts in 2495 days

#6 posted 05-03-2018 01:55 AM

I like the way you come up with way to make life easier. Way to go Dave.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

4039 posts in 1034 days

#7 posted 05-03-2018 07:38 AM

Thanks guys. It wasn’t so much about easier as possible, Dave. I don’t think I could’ve cut eight corners worth of dovetails without having a major mistake without the jig.

-- Dave - Minneapolis

View Kelster58's profile


759 posts in 992 days

#8 posted 05-03-2018 11:30 PM

Very cool, Dave…..You never cease to amaze me…....

-- K. Stone “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

4039 posts in 1034 days

#9 posted 05-04-2018 01:13 AM

Thanks, Kelly! Some days I amaze myself, too!

-- Dave - Minneapolis

View robscastle's profile


6272 posts in 2656 days

#10 posted 05-24-2018 10:03 AM

I like it Dave, in fact I like it very much, mainly because it gives you the ability to hold material at an angle of your own choice, not just 45 degrees.

-- Regards Rob

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

4039 posts in 1034 days

#11 posted 05-24-2018 10:25 AM

Agreed, Robert. 45 degrees is probably the most challenging angle, and if it works for that, I can almost certainly construct a version to hold material at any angle I need. Of course there are modeling vises that pivot any which way, but for my needs, a jig like this plus my existing vise work well.

-- Dave - Minneapolis

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