The case for using jigs

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Forum topic by MrRon posted 06-18-2017 02:08 AM 1213 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5813 posts in 3855 days

06-18-2017 02:08 AM

Jigs can be the woodworker’s best friend. True, it sometimes takes more time to make a jig than to build the project, but if you want accuracy, a jig is a worthwhile investment in time. It is also an important item when repeatability is required. I have built projects without using a jig and learned the hard way that a jig when built properly will save you a lot of mistakes and headaches, especially when working with an expensive piece of wood.

Jigs can be made for a one off project, or it can be treated as a project in itself and used over and over in the future. Many do not use jigs and the usual result is redoing the job or having to make a repair. If someone does not do woodworking on a regular basis, I can see why a jig would not be used. Woodworkers who spend much time in the shop can see the advantage of using jigs.

Now that I’m 82, my energy and strength is not what it was and I now rely on jigs for almost every project. It adds much time to the project, but it enables me to work without expending a lot of energy. My recent project is building a deck and trying to manhandle 50# boards, holding them while trying to line up a bolt is a job that is not easy. Imagine me kneeling on the ground and trying to nail joist hangars at the right place on a beam. That’s where a jig is needed; for repeatability and accuracy. To me the time invested in making jigs is time well spent.

I also do machining and jigs are almost mandatory. Mistakes do not go well with metal when holes don’t line up. Much time can be lost when a metal project has to be scrapped and redone. If one wants to make a great improvement in their woodworking, I recommend that you invest the time in making and using a jig.

14 replies so far

View rodneywt1180b's profile


185 posts in 998 days

#1 posted 06-18-2017 02:28 AM

You’re absolutely right. They also make a job safer by holding and supporting the work securely.

-- Rodney, Centralia, WA, USA

View ralbuck's profile


6317 posts in 2878 days

#2 posted 06-18-2017 02:34 AM

Very good advice!

Anything that I think I may want to repeat; I try to make the jigs I need as I go.

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

View bruce317's profile


404 posts in 1435 days

#3 posted 06-18-2017 03:12 AM

Right you are.

-- Bruce - Indiana - Sawdust is just, MAN GLITTER!

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


6054 posts in 3020 days

#4 posted 06-18-2017 04:26 AM

Years ago Bearpaw turned me on to making jigs for items I had to make more than once or maybe again later. A true time and effort saver. I do recommend a note stored with it to recall what it is for, and how to use. Because my memory recall is not as good as I would like it to be some days . LOL

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View Madmark2's profile


752 posts in 1200 days

#5 posted 06-18-2017 04:38 AM

I make jigs with wood scraps and clamps. I can usually set up in a minute or two and tear down is about the same. My most complex jig is a stick of wood with a thru carriage bolt and a knob for the drill press. I set the center distance and clamp on a stop block for length. Works fine & lasts a long time. Often i clamp to the rip fence of the TS with a 90° plastic clamp block to make a corner jig to build boxes.


-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View MrRon's profile


5813 posts in 3855 days

#6 posted 06-18-2017 03:28 PM

Jigs will improve a woodworker’s skill 1000%. The main reason to use a jig is accuracy. Jigs are not limited only to dovetails, doweling or box joints.

View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3415 days

#7 posted 07-09-2017 04:30 PM

Jigs make your woodworking more enjoyable in my opinion. As long as you set them up correctly, they will give you great results.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5523 posts in 2921 days

#8 posted 07-09-2017 04:37 PM

I think jigs make their own case. I don’t now who made/used the first jig but I’d be it’s in the thousands of year ago.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Aj2's profile


2658 posts in 2409 days

#9 posted 07-09-2017 05:50 PM

Sometimes a fixture is called a jig .
I use both when needed.Time well spent the last one I made was for routing a tongue and groove on a cooperd panel.
I hate routers.

-- Aj

View jtdon's profile


29 posts in 1118 days

#10 posted 07-09-2017 05:51 PM

The older I get the more jigs I make and the fewer mistakes I make.

View ArtMann's profile


1462 posts in 1428 days

#11 posted 07-09-2017 07:33 PM

I like the idea of using patterns, which has many similarities to using jigs. I have a set of 1/4 inch Masonite patterns for building an Adirondack chair hat I have used again and again. I use a band saw to get close and then a router and flush trim bit to get the exact profile on all the curved pieces. Making those patterns turned out to be smarter than I ever imagined.

View BurlyBob's profile


6932 posts in 2877 days

#12 posted 07-09-2017 07:51 PM

MR Ron, truer words were never spoken. The simplest jig I ever made was taking a piece of 1×5, putting some double sided tape on it to hold a thin piece of offcut the clean off the rough edge. It worked like a champ and gave me a boat load of small strips to use later.

View Planeman40's profile


1474 posts in 3372 days

#13 posted 07-10-2017 02:35 PM

Amen! MrRon.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View MrRon's profile


5813 posts in 3855 days

#14 posted 07-10-2017 07:04 PM

I am in the processing of building a 16’x16’ deck. I will prefab all the parts and utilize jigs as needed to line everything up correctly and most of all to minimize excessive labor. Although I have others who can help me, I prefer to build it “MY WAY” and my way only. Critics of my way of working are saving time and or money or have the “good enough” philosophy. I will do all the planning down to the number of fasteners and which to use and I don’t appreciate it when my plans are not followed. That is just my engineer attitude; I am a retired marine engineer in shipbuilding for 50 years. Whatever appears on the blueprints of the ship better be implemented without deviation.

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