indexer

Precise indexing on your jigsaw
By WAL.TER E. BURTON

You can cut equally spaced slots and notches of identical depth with this jigsaw indexer, making gears or decorative disks from wood, hardboard, plastic, or metal disks up to 4" in diameter. And you can make the indexer yourself. Disks can be stacked for interesting lamp bases and cuts can be filled with plastic metal to give the appearance of inlay work. You can even

This simple precision device lets you cut accurate gears or decorative designs with confidence in the spacing, depth, and even the angle of the cuts

The indexer (background) can create the notched disk (lower left), wooden gears, or the jewel box

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mount a file or other special cutter in the jigsaw to create special effects. A latch locks a notched disk or spur gear (the index plate) at various positions. The work blank is mounted on a separate shaft, offset from the index shaft for blade clearance but coupled to it by a pair of identical spur gears. The assembly is mounted on a metal bar that slides smoothly back and forth between hardwood guides mounted on a hardwood base. To control play, the holes through which one guide is held to the base are elongated to allow sideways adjustment. (The other guide is notched to clear the lockingscrew nut.) The work-holding shaft is a steel rod soldered into a small spur gear so as to form its axle. At the opposite end, a flange is attached by means of a setscrew. Flange dimensions aren't critical, but the widest diameter should be about 7/8" Three or four small screw holes are provided to fasten the work blank to this flange. A thin washer between gear and bar provides gear-edge clearance. Near the unthreaded end of the index-plate

This custom cutter makes fast work of wooden gears. Before filing teeth (see sketch), bevel the bar with a file. A tool steel scraper does the final shaping

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indexer

When the spur gear won't do, a special indexing disk is seated on the shaft. A lathe-gear collar acts as a spacer between thin steel plate and its locking nut. Lathe gears serve as temporary indexing plates, with a good starting set being gears with 48, 56, and 60 teeth. The spacer may not be necessary in all cases

precise indexing, continued

shaft is a shallow groove to receive a locking screw that holds this shaft in its hole in the sliding bar. The distance between the two shaft holes is such that the gears will mesh snugly without binding. Projecting 1/16" above the top surface of the index-shaft gear and spaced about 3/16" from the shaft is a small pin that engages holes in the index plates and the lathe-gear-adapter collar, to insure against shifting if the wingnut is loose. The gear-adapter collar is a simple flanged collar used to mount a lathe change gear as an 1464

index plate (top photo, p. 1462). Collar dimensions in Detail A, p. 1463, are for gears with 9/16" holes. Preferably the collar should be provided with a key or pin to engage the slot in the gear hole. Its flange is drilled to fit the spur-gear pin. When a thin index plate is used in place of the thicker gear, this adapter collar is placed on top to span the unthreaded portion of the shaft. This also keeps the collar hand and prevents it from straying when not in normal use. The latch is a square steel bar sliding in a U-shaped holder made by bending a steel strip as shown. The bar slides in holes drilled with a 1/4" bit and filed square. A coil compression spring operates between one end of the holder and a pin (small nail) in a hole drilled crosswise through the latch bar. The latch handle is a short length of brass tube bolted on near the back end. The other end of the bar is filed wedge-shaped and preferably hardened. The latch is mounted so that when its tip engages a notch in a 2-1/2" index plate, the coil spring is slightly compressed. To limit slide movement toward the jigsaw blade, a threaded 1/4" rod extends from the latch end of the slide and is equipped with several nuts, the first of which strikes against a notched metal stop plate fastened across the guide strip.

The second is a locknut. A cap nut on the end is an optional feature that keeps you from gouging your palm on the projecting rod. The base block is undercut to give clearance for large-diameter blanks. This block is fastened with screws to a hardboard panel which can be gripped readily by a C-clamp on each side, to anchor the indexer to the saw table. Although lathe-change or similar gears may be used for index plates, special disks can be made. Those in the photos were cut from electrical junction-box covers, 3/64" thick; the notches are slitting-saw kerfs Mo in. deep. When this indexer was assembled, the lower surface of the latch bar turned out to be slightly higher than the top surface of the index-shaft gear. So each index plate was equipped with a 1/16"-thick spacer disk to raise it into full engagement with the latch tip. For shaping gear teeth and making other special cuts, you can custom-make blades to fit your jigsaw, as shown in the opening photo and detailed on the opposite page. This particular softsteel bar was first filed roughly to the desired contour, then shaped with a scraper made from 1/16" tool steel. A spur gear was used as a filing template to shape the V-notch at the scraper's business end. By sliding the work-holding flange up its filed

shaft, you can mount disks up to about 3/8" thick. For thicker pieces, a shim—such as a rectangle of hardboard—is put in proper position between the clamping panel and the saw table. Here's the recommended routine for preparing work disks: Rough out the disk on the jigsaw, or with a circle cutter in the drill press, and bore a 1/4" center hole. Place the disk over a 1/4" pin in a board clamped to a disk-sander table and revolve the disk against the sander until it has a uniform radius. Now fasten the work-holding flange to the disk blank with small screws while a 1/4" rod extends through the center hole of each. Then lower the forward shaft of the indexer into the flange socket and tighten the setscrew. If you wish to avoid screw holes in the face of the blank, glue on a small disk that's already attached to the flange, placing paper between the disks so the joint can later be split apart. The indexer is normally mounted with its slide in line with the jigsaw blade or file. But by mounting it for tangential cuts, the work can be converted into a polygon, star, or other shape. Use of the blade guard and hold-down is advisable where possible.

Decorative edging is easy with the indexer to space alternate V-notches and flutes exactly. A triangular file does the notching and a round file takes care of the flutes. Finger pressure minimizes bounce

Clamp two blades side by side in the jigsaw to cut extra-wide kerfs. The slant here was achieved by tilting the table. Specially shaped cutters can be fashioned for other special-purpose jobs

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