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Router Table Saw Other Saws Miscellaneous
Dado jig Miter gauge fences Circular saw guide Bench slave
Small parts holding fixture Taper fixture Miter fixture for Radial Arm Saw T-bolts and T-slots
Jigs for Lazy Susan Rip sled Accessory scales
Asst. Router Jigs Box joint fixture


One of the most important things I learned in my woodworking classes (and subsequent reading) was the necessity of using jigs and fixtures to extend the capabilities of my tools. I also discovered I like designing them almost as much as building projects. To me, the challenge is to make a functional and easy-to-use fixture that works for the current project and that is also versatile enough to be useful in the future. I hope there are some helpful ideas here. Most examples on this page are inspired by others - woodworking is a craft with such a long history - but just maybe I've managed to contribute something new.

click on any of the small pictures to see a larger image

Lazy Susan Turntables

RAS CuttingCutting the triangular pieces on the radial arm saw. I cut the pieces just slightly oversized.
TrianglesCutting the triangular pieces this way means very little waste. Even the geometric design is made from pieces that are cut from continuous boards. 
PlaningEven though this saw blade makes very smooth cuts, the joint edges are hand-planed before gluing to get the best possible surfaces, since these joints are largely end-grain. This was especially important on the canary wood, as this board was cupped and warped - the cuts were not exactly straight or perpendicular to the face. Planing was also required before fitting the half and full circles, as small distortions were introduced when the pieces were clamped in the glue-up fixture.. My Lee Valley Low Angle jack plane was perfect for this task. 
GlueUpI did the glue-up of the circular disks in three steps - quarters, halves, then the full circle. The glue-up fixture with toggle clamps and fences helped make this process relatively easy.
Semicircle TrimEach semicircle has its edge trimmed straight to get a perfect fit when gluing the full circle.
DrillingA 1/2" hole is bored in the exact center of the disk. I use a portable drill guide since my little benchtop drill press can't reach the center of a 14" disk. This 1/2" hole is used by all the subsequent fixtures to position and hold the workpiece, and allow it to rotate - if required.
Router PlaningSince the diameter of the disk is larger than my 13" planer, and the grain is going all different directions, I flattened both sides of the disks using a router-on-rails style jig. I'm using a bowl-and-tray bit in the router. The disks are secured in place using wedge-shaped cutoffs from the sawing step.
Router DishThen a template is added to route out the circular, shallow depression in the top. The router bit has a guide bearing on the shaft. Since these are essentially planing operations, I made buckets of chips with this jig..
Circle JigNext, the disks are shaped round using a router table fixture that sets the distance from the bit, and allows me to rotate the disk. Very light passes are required to avoid tearing out the grain at the corners.
Slant JigThe next step is putting an angled profile on the bottom edges using a slanted router table fixture...
Edge Profilethe bowl bit is used again for this step.
Circle Jig BullnoseFinally the outside edge is rounded to a bullnose profile. All the shaping steps went very quickly - I don't think that using a lathe would have been any easier or faster.
SandingMatching hole plugs are glued into the center holes, then the pieces are sanded, and prepped for finish.
FinishingFinishing.
CompletedCompleted - with bases and bearings installed underneath

Small Parts Holding Fixture

HolderAndDoors When cutting parts on the router table, sometimes they are too small to hold without getting my fingers uncomfortably close to the cutter. I can use pushsticks and featherboards for through cuts, but stopped cuts require some kind of holding fixture. Cutting grooves for these small door panels requires stopped cuts in each rail and stile.
SmallPartsHolder This fixture holds the parts securely, allowing me to lower and raise the piece on and off the bit as required for the stopped grooves to be cut. The left clamp jaw is fixed, while the right slider and clamp jaw adjust to the size of the workpiece. The movable clamp jaw is activated by a toggle clamp that allows quick changes when routing multiple workpieces.
HolderClamped The handles give me good control of the workpiece while keeping my fingers safely away from the router bit.
OtherSide View of the other side of the fixture. The fixed clamp jaw is glued to the base. Notice the small sandpaper strips inside both clamp jaws that help prevent the parts from slipping.
SliderDetail Detail of the slider and clamp jaw assembly. The T-bolt and knob on the right cinch down tight to adjust the for the size of the part. The T-bolt on the left is loosely snugged down and slides in the T-slot. This keeps the side of the clamp jaw from lifting up when a workpiece is clamped in.
SliderBottom Bottom of the slider assembly. Sandpaper glued on the bottom of the slider makes sure it does not slip. The anti-rotation strips on each piece prevent racking as the pieces slide along the T-slot and when the toggle clamp is secured..
ClampRodDetail Detail of the threaded rod, washers, and nuts that connect the clamp jaw to the mini toggle. The double nuts are jammed together to keep them in place. There is a cork washer to give some resilience to the clamping action. Plus the nuts are adjusted so the clamp jaw is loosely attached to the toggle - this makes sure it can slide smoothly.

Assorted Router Jigs

RouterJigs Many of these jigs are from Router Magic by Bill Hylton - a great book about router techniques, jigs, and things you had no idea a router could do. There are three circle jigs in there -the current project always seemed to need an arc just a little bigger than the last one I built...
RouterBaseplate A deceptively simple and useful custom baseplate. The router is mounted just a little off center, so referencing each side can trim a slightly different amount off a groove or an edge. 
BlackerLegJig A Greene and Greene "Blacker House" style leg detail jig from from Darrell Peart's book Greene & Greene : Design Elements for the Woodshop
BlackerJigTop I improved on his design by making the jig in two halves that slide together - this allows the jig fit practically any size leg. Bottom view.

Miter Fixture for the Radial Arm Saw

Even though I made many picture frames before constructing this fixture, this allows me to very easily make accurate miter cuts from stock large and small. And once the angle of the fixture is tuned to 90 deg, the miter joints come out perfectly every time. This clamps onto the saw table where the fence would normally be and is located by a strip of wood underneath that references the side of the table - so it repeatably mounts on the saw in the same location.

MiterFixtureForRAS Cut1 Cut2 Cut3

T-bolts and T-slots

Jigs and fixtures I make often incorporate T-bolts and T-slots to allow parts of the tool to be adjusted. Often T-slots can be routed into the pieces of the jig - other times using a purchased T-track extrusion is a better choice. There are also some considerations for the design of the pieces that are constructed to slide along these slots.

TslotRouterBits There are router bits that can be used to route a T-slot. I first tried a keyhole bit, but multiple passes were required to get a slot big enough for a typical T-bolt.

When making jigs and fixtures, it is easier to standardize on one style (diameter and thread pitch, head dimensions) to make construction simpler and jig parts more interchangeable. Routing a T-slot is often a 2-step process - route or dado a slot first, then enlarge that slot into a T using the T-slot bit.
T-slot dimensions I've used T-slots for fences, stop blocks, featherboards, hold-down clamps, router jigs, table saw sleds, and in tool table tops. I use 5/16" T-bolts that fit into slots with these dimensions. Size your slots to fit the T-bolts you choose.

Knobs of various sizes and designs are available from several sources.
TslotMiterGauge Here, notice the shoulders of the T are just being squeezed when the knob is tightened. Designs like this where the T-slot shoulders are in compression don't present special problems...
TslotClamp ...while here the shoulders of the T-slot are in tension when the clamp is secured. In this case, the material has to be thick enough to withstand the stresses (usually a through slot), or a metal T-track extrusion needs to be used (like this example).
Anti-rotation strip When a stop block is clamped by a single T-bolt, it has a tendency to rotate. To counteract this undesirable behavior, an anti-rotation strip can be added. This is a small piece that fits snugly into the T-slot. Make this from a strip of wood that is the exact width of the narrow part of the slot, and is no thicker that the shoulders of the T-slot. This stop block incorporates an anti-rotation strip.
Fixed stop This stop is constructed so that the clamping knob is in a different plane than the force applied during use - so by design the stop block won't rotate.

Miter Gauge Fences and Stops

MiterGaugeSystem I built a few different faces and attachments for my miter gauge, and I can make more if additional needs arise. They are constructed from two 1/2" MDF layers laminated together. The main faces are the same size, so the attachments are all interchangeable.  Sandpaper glued on to the front of the face makes it a non-slip surface - I use self-stick sandpaper, or attach 220-400 grit paper with a spray adhesive.
Miter gauge faces The different faces attach to the miter gauge with T-bolts and small knobs, which allows easy side-to-side adjustment. The miter gauge can be used on either side of the saw blade, and each face has a zero-clearance slot if I want to bridge the saw blade while cutting. This slot can help reduce splintering, and allow the fence to push small cutoff parts clear of the saw blade.
Miter fence stops I have different stops for cross-cutting multiple pieces to the same length, one a fixed and the other a flip-up style. 
Two stops Mounting both stops allows cross-cutting two different lengths with one setup.

Circular Saw Guide

SawGuide1 While my table saw rip fence can handle fairly wide cuts, it can be awkward when maneuvering heavy 4' x 8' panels. So I made this inexpensive cutting table and guides for using a circular saw to cut up sheet goods. When a workpiece gets too heavy, maybe it's time to clamp down the workpiece and move the tool instead! The guide is a piece of hardwood with straight edges and about 3" wide, screwed to a  piece of hardboard about 11" wide. The exact sizes will depend on your circular saw. A 9' long guide is used to cut the length of a sheet, while a 5' length works well for cutting across a sheet - make that 5 1/2' or 6' if you buy Baltic birch in 5x5 sheets.
Saw guide table The table is made from 2x4s arranged in a grid pattern with some $20 folding legs attached. In use, the saw blade cuts into the table. If the 2x4s get too torn up, they can be replaced. The whole thing folds up for storage. I find this easier than working on the floor, plus I can securely clamp the guide and workpiece to the table.
Saw guide The edge of the hardboard deck of the guide is cut the first time its used, this then serves as a reference edge for laying out cuts. Make sure you clamp the guide over the piece being cut off - then the edge of the guide is the cut line reference. If the guide sits on the piece of remaining stock, you have to compensate for the thickness of the blade.
Scoring tool I also made a little holder for a knife blade to score the material before sawing. This helps prevent chipping on the outside of the saw blade (the side that's not underneath the hardboard guide). A hand-held circular saw produces the least chipping on the bottom side of the workpiece. If there's a front and back to the sheet material - do all your marking and cutting with the back side up - opposite from a table saw.
Scoring tool bottom Bottom view of the scoring tool. It adjusts to match the kerf width of the saw blade.
Saw guide laser Since I don't have a long enough straightedge (who does?) I used a laser pointer to check that the edge guide board was straight enough.

Dado Jig

Dado jig A router jig for making straight-line router cuts when I need more than a simple T-square (or L-square) jig. I use it for cutting repeated stopped dados or sliding dovetail sockets. It includes a custom sub-base for the router and a positioning guide. 
Dado jig - bottom Bottom view - the rails are constructed exactly parallel and at right angles to the edge guide. The toggle clamps hold the jig to the workpiece.
Dado jig - dovetail The jig and router set up to cut sliding dovetail sockets. The router sub-base is sized to slide perfectly between the rails. I cut the dovetail sockets to a fixed size, then cut the tails (on the router table) to fit the sockets.
Dado jig - centering The positioning guide also fits snugly between the rails to adjust the position of the jig exactly to the layout mark. I located the center using a V-point router bit (notice this piece fits between the lower portion of the rails), then extended the mark down the edge with a knife incision. (The lettering was obviously not designed for this picture.)
Dado jig - stopped slot The stop bars can be set for stopped cuts. The T-slots in the rails allow easy positioning of the stop bars.
Dado jig - stopped slot Another setup using the plunge base. This is for cutting slots that are stopped at both ends.

In this picture you can see that the plunge base does not fit between the jig guide rails - which were sized to fit the router's fixed base. That is why I had to add the little spacer strips under the sub-base that can be seen in previous pictures. I should have made the whole jig just a little wider...

Taper Fixture

Taper fixture I built a taper sled for the table saw that is better than the typical store-bought variety. This design holds the work firmly in place and yields repeatable taper cuts. The knobs and T-bolts secure the various parts onto the deck of the fixture and allow a wide range of adjustment. Here is a drawing showing dimensions of this fixture. Nothing is really critical - the design can easily be modified.
TaperFixture3 The fixture in cutting position on the saw. A runner on the bottom rides in the miter slot. When constructing the fixture, the edge of the deck is trimmed by the saw blade - so this indicates the cut line.
Taperfixture2 The rear stop on this fixture can be flipped, rotated and moved to accommodate leg lengths from 4" to 32". This could be easily extended for longer legs. 
Taper fixture clamp The hold-down clamp helps secure the leg blank in the fixture. I found that a toggle-type clamp in this application was tedious to adjust to different legs. This type of hold-down easily accommodates a wide range of sizes.
Taper fixture front A close-up showing construction details of the front taper stop. A scale helps set up the taper sizes.
Taper fixture bottom The T-bolt heads are "countersunk" so they are recessed into the bottom of the deck. This guide runner is quarter-sawn red oak - the growth rings run parallel to the short sides of the runner  to minimize swelling due to humidity changes.. Note that since a runner is usually cut from the edge of a board, flat sawn stock will yield a quarter sawn runner, and vice-versa. Many types of runner will work - on various fixtures I've used metal, UHMW, and wood. (We don't have large seasonal weather swings here.)

Bench Slave

A version of the traditional bench slave. The first modification is three feet - so there's no wobbling. Then I used a sawtooth design for the height adjustment, which allows for relatively fine steps between vertical adjustment points. See this drawing for layout details of the sawtooth. I also built a tray top, extending the versatility of this stand.

AtBench AtBench SawTooth BenchSlaveTray

Rip Sled

A fixture for straight line ripping the first edge of rough (unjointed) boards. The workpiece is clamped to the sled, then the straight edge of the sled rides against the table saw rip fence. The toggle clamp locations are adjusted using the knobs and T-bolts. The toggle clamps are the kind where the handle clamps over the workpiece, since some of the styles that have straight handles could project over the edge of the sled and interfere with the rip fence. The T-bolt heads are "counter-sunk" into the bottom of the sled. Hold-downs like this could be used instead of the toggle clamps. 

Rip sled Rip sled clamped Rip sled unclamped Rip sled bottom

Accessory Scales

Scales can be handy additions to shop tools and jigs. For short lengths, you can easily draw scales to match your exact needs using almost any drawing or drafting program. Modern ink-jet and laser printers can render these with all the accuracy needed for shop use. Note that copy machines often distort the size of the copied material, so use an original off your printer. The linked PDF file - if printed at 100% size, no scaling - should be accurate. The scales can be affixed with clear tape, spray adhesive, and/or covered with a clear plastic sheet for additional protection. For lengths longer than your printer can handle - Oregon Rule has any size and style of scale you could possibly need.

Scale - mortise jig Scale- circle jig Rulers Oregon Rule

Accurate Router Guide

Accurate Dado Guide
Unfortunately, it appears that Accurate Woodworking Tools LLC has gone out of business. Another jig  to cut dados exactly sized to your stock will be posted...

A cool jig from Accurate Woodworking Tools. It lets you automatically cut dadoes to the exact thickness of your stock - using a standard size router bit. I made a T-square fence that, together with the Accurate Guide, makes cutting perfectly fitting dadoes very easy - even for undersized plywood or oversized melamine sheets.

Drawings of T-square fence - Page 1, Page 2
Setting Fence
There is a hole on the bottom of the fence that is used to mount the Accurate guide to the router base in the same position each time it's used. The guide uses either 1/4" or 1/2" router bits - use one T-square fence for a single bit size. Make two fences if you use both size bits.
Line Up Cut
Only one mark is needed for each dado, just make sure the reference edge of the slot in the T-square fence is lined up so you cut on the waste side of your mark. The dado width is set by the pieces of the actual stock going in the dado that are placed in the Accurate guide. The dado cut can be through or stopped.

This setup can also be used to cut sockets for sliding dovetails.

Box Joint Fixture

Box Joint Fixture
I built this box joint fixture from the plans in ShopNotes #62. It consists of a base, plus a fence for each size of joint you want to cut. I've found the fixture works very well - the design allows you to calibrate each fence individually when you build it. Even when you switch sizes, the joints fit perfectly every time. It can also cut the fingers for wooden hinges.
Base and Fence
A fence is fastened to the base with carriage bolts and threaded knobs. The adjustment screw and reference stop are at the front in this view.

Most of the material is 3/4" ply - allowing the vertical side pieces of the base to fit in the miter slots of the table saw. The design could also be modified for use on a router table.
Back of Fixture
The operator's view of the fixture. The base is a double thickness of 3/4" ply, this serves to safely bury the blade during cutting. The base is sized to fit exactly between the miter slots of your table saw with the vertical pieces riding in the miter slots.
Adjustment Stop
A closeup of the fence adjustment screw and reference stop.
The adjustment is a phillips flat-head wood screw.

Note the carriage bolt heads are counter-bored into the front of the fence.
Fence Mount
The back view of the fence adjustment reference stop, fence mounting bolt and knob. Note that the holes in the base are oversize to allow for adjusting the fence position. The fence is an 'L' made from 3/4" ply and 1/4" hardboard.
Fixture on Saw
The fixture in place on the saw. Note that the 1/4" hardboard bottom fence piece gets cut in two on the first use of the fence - make sure it's fastened on both sides of the cutting area.

Set some kind of stop to limit the forward travel when cutting.
Cutting Joint
Finished cutting a joint. The height of the dado - depth of cut - must be set each time you use the fixture. This depth of cut is set depending on whether you want the end grain sections recessed or proud.

To calibrate a fence, you cut (long) test joints, then adjust the screw until the fit is just right. Make sure you record any shims you used in the dado stack to make sure the slot width is cut the same every time.
Box Joint
A dry assembled joint.

A secret to making good joints with this type of fixture is ensuring that the indexing key fits snugly, yet smoothly into the sockets (slots) being cut. When you slide the workpiece off the key, make sure you only wiggle it front-to-back. If you rock it side-to-side, you will pop the indexing key out of its groove in the fence.
Fence Pieces
The fences have replaceable backer pieces to help control tearout. By centering the mounting hole, each backer can be flipped or rotated and used four times. 1/8" hardboard is used for the backers - make extras! The keys are hot-glued into a shallow groove in the bottom piece of the fence. Make extra keys, too.

I made fences for 1/8", 1/4", 3/8" and 1/2" box joints.
In production mode In production mode - lots of boxes for presents.



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