Having access to a variety of jigs can improve the quality of your routing work and make several projects go much quicker. A jig is a device that guides you in making certain types of cuts. There are about as many types of jigs as there are woodworking cuts. Common jigs include those used for dovetail joints, mortises and tenons. Usually, jigs are made rather than bought. Having a good set of plans is key to making a jig. Evaluating the plans against the type of router and table you have is also important.
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Accumulate jig plans. Master woodworkers have made a variety of jigs over the years. Many times they share detailed drawings of the jigs with woodworking publications. Having a set of plans -- or at least a picture or drawing -- is critical for building a functional jig. Books that focus on routers often include several jig plans. For example, Fine Woodworking's "Working with Routers" includes plans for dovetail, tenon, mortise, dado and hinge jigs.
Evaluate your router and your table. Jigs are meant to work in tandem with a router and a router table. Examine the plan and determine if it needs to be adjusted to fit the particular specifications of your equipment. In particular, pay attention to your router's fence and determine if it is the proper height to accept a jig. Also, many jigs need to be clamped to the router table when in use. Be sure that the design of the jig can be easily clamped into place with your particular table.
Gather up your building materials. Create a materials list based on the plans and the modifications you have made to them. Jigs normally require only basic materials. Plywood or MDF board is the most common material for jig making. You should avoid high-priced hardwood because jigs invariably will become cut and marred.
Construct the jig following the plans and the modifications you have made. Most jig construction is straightforward. Often a router is the main tool you will need to construct a jig although a table saw and several clamps are also frequently used.
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