Wheel kerfing jig for T&J models

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Project by LittleBlackDuck posted 12-05-2016 09:48 AM 48287 views 20 times favorited 44 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi all. I have been debating whether I should publishing this article regarding my “Wheel kerfing jig” for T&J destined wheels

because the jig is primarily laser cut with only the indexing pin created using conventional woodworking techniques.
Laser cut???” you say… well join in the chorus… as not too many people have lasers or even access to one, but with the growing popularity of CNCs and their acceptance in the woodworking community, I now probably have 2 or 3 more interested people added to my captivated audience.
I finally decided to publish this article for 3 reasons:
  1. I made a video of using the jig that runs for far too many miles to keep viewers interested without a lot of toilet breaks and this may alleviate that burden and could use some further explanation. Here is the link to the video (suggest you grab a slab of beer and a pizza first).
  2. While you probably have a “snowball in hell” attitude towards such a build, I’m hoping you may get some sort of “inspiration” to use parts of my presentation/ideas in some other independent woodworking ventures.
  3. Hmmm? I can’t count…

The jigs suggested by T&J are boards with dowels clamped to a mitre gauge and slanted (or straight) across a table saw,

or a router table,

I have seen many great jig designs and innovative ideas, however, they all seemed to get bogged down with “advancement to the next index” and the “lock down” process while making the cut.
My intention was to devise an indexing/locking mechanism and then building a jig around that which was a complete rrrs about logic and in-keeping with this authors “mental orientation”. This exercise was more of a challenge rather than a requirement, as I had become quite familiar with the production of simple dedicated wheel kerfing jigs for each style of wheels as per the T&J instructions.

After designing a spring loaded locking/indexing pin mechanism I then proceeded to designed a base to hold the wheel.

I used a far too heavy spring in the 1st. pin mechanism I made. As it took too much of an effort to pull it out and fearing early destruction, I made another one with a much lighter spring.

As I progressed with the design, it kept gravitating to a modular MDF build suited for laser cutting.

During solution contemplation, I quickly realised that it was impractical to have the indexing wheel in line with the wheel to be cut as the indexer would need to be smaller and that would make the indexing holes impractical.

So I came upon this bright idea of gears and gearing ratios.

Unfortunately the solution was totally out of whack with my initial draft. The first design was totally screwed up as I planned on equating the number of gear’s teeth with the number of indices required.
I considered a 2:1 ratio but my logic was reversed as I had the small gear attached to the wheel with the larger gear incorporating the indexer.

This gave me a 1:2 ratio with the kerfs at every 2nd. location… DOH! I thought that I could rotate the wheel ½ a kerf and then re do but after many misalignments that idea was scrapped.
This concept required a relocatable indexer, hence the elongated pin holes (rather than just plain circles) in the index wheel that just never got update.

The only problem is that a “draft” in timber is not like paper. After making the component it was a bit difficult to erase misplaced holes and I had to redesign and re cut.
I found that such a large index wheel was an overkill and thought that to separate the two geared components and compensate for a smaller index wheel, I will need to introduce a 3rd gear… This was designed around the location of the index pin mechanism. I never considered moving the index pin… that would have been far too easy. This was already over-engineered… why stop here.

Combined with frustration and many mental blocks I somehow thought about using bearings in the jig to facilitate the introduction of this new gear.
I kept forgetting that one of the key features of SketchUp was simulation and unfortunately the laser cutting made minor modifications too easy and rather that re-evaluate the jig and do a total redesign I made quick “adjust to fit” modifications using SketchUp followed by quicker laser re-cuts.

The following is the components of the jig’s components in the “table saw” mode.

Two examples of wheels created using different indexing wheels.

After completing the jig and observing some other jig designers using routers, I considered extending I’s functionality accordingly
I designed what I affectionately refer to as the “Foredom configuration”. This configuration has the geared base with indexer mounted into a “router kerfing table” type setup. You can then use a Foredom, Dremel, trimmer or router with the appropriate following template to cut the kerf.

The kerf is controlled by following designed tracks using template followers. You can design any pattern you like and this can permit non-linear kerfs to be cut as opposed to the straight kerfs on a table saw.
To cut different shaped kerfs all you need to do is replace a template that is located by 4 dowels on the “router kerfing table”.

I prefer to use a Foredom as it is very manoeuvrable, can be operated by one hand and with the appropriate hand-piece will accept ¼” router bits. To permit ease of use of a Foredom tool I designed a 3D printed jig to hold the Foredom and permit its use with the following template. While the base of this 3D printed jig is relatively small it is large enough to provide stability.

I have created another long winded video describing the features of the SketchUp model here. Please note that it is not a how to but what was created and why.

The “laser cut” parts would need to be separated for CNC cutting. How to CNC? Je ne sais pas… RTFM.

For SketchUp models:
Tablesaw configuration.
Foredom configuration.

The jig has not been used for angled kerfs nor “production” tested in the Foredom configuration

Anyone interested in making wooden gears (in general), here is a good starting point .

Late Addition:
To appease the need for “Bigger Boys’ Toys” the jig had to be reengineered and can now take up to 9” wheels.

To accommodate this, the gear layout had to be modified and an additional “control” gear was added.

Fortunately after the changes were made in SketchUp, the transition to the workshop and reality was purely academic. In layman’s terms… the laser got it right first time.
Here is the link for the SketchUp 9 incher modifications.
I created a new video showing it in action the larger wheel, however, I cocked it up as I didn’t apply constant pressure in a lateral position on the driving gear wheel. To demonstrate what incorrect practices will result in I left the video in to serve as a bad example and re-shot it here to demonstrate what I should have done.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

44 comments so far

View crowie's profile


3960 posts in 2829 days

#1 posted 12-05-2016 10:30 AM

While that looks very complicated Alex, really very clever and simple….
You’ve made good use of your lazer cutter while correlating the gleaned information from many sources as well as you own “KNOW HOW”...
Well done sir….

-- Lifes good, Enjoy each new day...... Cheers from "On Top DownUnder" Crowie

View recycle1943's profile


4790 posts in 2501 days

#2 posted 12-05-2016 10:40 AM

I’m way beyond rhetoric mainly because the entire post is beyond my comprehension and have no desire to attempt to understand – now having said that, I TOTALLY applaud the mechanics of the fixture and the operator that envisioned it.

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View LittleBlackDuck's profile


5753 posts in 1699 days

#3 posted 12-05-2016 10:45 AM

Thanks Crowie, It started of as a simple plagiarised design from one of the Woodworking Forum’s contributor’s design with a sprinkle of htl inspiration. Then I had a vino (or two) and got totally carried away. Unfortunately one of my many foibles is that when I start something I must finish it… even if it is a futile exercise. I was just fortunate that under the ridiculous over-engineering I somehow blundered across something that by sheer chance finished up working.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View becikeja's profile


1132 posts in 3692 days

#4 posted 12-05-2016 11:06 AM

The jigs people on this site come up with never cease to amaze me.
Well done.

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

View Redoak49's profile


4913 posts in 2867 days

#5 posted 12-05-2016 12:05 PM

Amazing…love your wheels and Now We Know how you made them. Thanks for posting this.

You have set a very high standard for the rest of this.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3745 days

#6 posted 12-05-2016 01:50 PM

What a great jig. It’s a great design and skillfully carried out. I used to have a machine shop in our plant where I often built jigs and fixtures. This brings back memories. You have built for your shop a wonderful jig. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

7660 posts in 4231 days

#7 posted 12-05-2016 02:16 PM

Outstanding in every way!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View gargey's profile


1013 posts in 1654 days

#8 posted 12-05-2016 02:40 PM

What a way to use time.

View Dutchy's profile


3822 posts in 3047 days

#9 posted 12-05-2016 03:58 PM

Hi all. I have been debating whether I should publishing this article regarding my “Wheel kerfing jig” for T&J destined wheels
. LittleBlackDuck

Daily TOP 3.


View Dutchy's profile


3822 posts in 3047 days

#10 posted 12-05-2016 04:02 PM

Thanks Ducky.

You have made a great jig!!! and I’m sure others can make this gears alaso with a scrollsaw.


View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1407 posts in 2512 days

#11 posted 12-05-2016 04:06 PM

At first glance it looked really complex, and What FOR?, but the pics and text do it justice.
Nice design, cool. Very much like an indexer a machinist would use.

-- Jeff NJ

View htl's profile


5256 posts in 2038 days

#12 posted 12-05-2016 04:51 PM

It’s so pretty and gets the job done too!!!
I appropriate your sticking to the subject and really making it clear how you got it done.
And now It’s time to dumb it down to where I can use it, with this and Dutchy’s creations. LOL

I really see a ton a work that went into making this and love it, and know you had a ball figuring it out.
Did you have to go out and buy a topaz after all that head scratching?

I would think that with this jig step[with the right shape] and then cutting treads with the table saw[or router] you could easily [ya right] make a tire that has the look of Dutchy staggered treads with out all the band sawing of individual treaded disks.
But I do realize this is really aimed to work great for the tractors and such


Added thought.
Could see this being used on straight boards for some interesting patterns for trim.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View Dee1's profile


366 posts in 2768 days

#13 posted 12-05-2016 05:44 PM

Little Black Duck
You have just set the bar way way over my head so very impressive great pictures and nice article although i just skimmed through it I will return later when chores are done!
But I am pretty sure CNC and Lazer is way over my old almost 80 abilities love to see what the real pros in this hobby are up to.
My hat is off to you.

View Underdog's profile


1547 posts in 2914 days

#14 posted 12-05-2016 08:41 PM

Thanks so much for demonstrating this. Enjoyed the videos, and the seeing all the parts.
Do you also have a 3D printer, in addition to the lazer?

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View htl's profile


5256 posts in 2038 days

#15 posted 12-05-2016 11:17 PM

Top Three! Way to go Ducky! LOL

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

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