Router template indexes cuts

by Patrick Warner

Box-Joint Jig


Fine Woodworking, Winter '76, page 34.)

he box joint is being used less and less today and it's no wonder, considering the setup complications, the danger of holding workpieces vertically on table saws, the indexing hangups and the assembly problems. After studying most of the classical box-joint cutting methods and tools, I decided to design and build a template jig that could be used with a router. (For the table-saw method of making this joint, see

I've made dozens of boxes and drawers and have found that most don't measure more than 12 in. high and 36 in. on a side. Most stock used for small boxes is in. to in. thick. I made my jig to accommodate these dimensions with no changes in setup. In designing the jig, I aimed for simplicity of operation, safety, rapid setup and indexing, accuracy, precision, repeatability, and latitude in box sizes. I built it into a table that's split to allow the stock to be held vertically—the jig is on one side of the split, the press screws are on the other (see photo below). The table is both portable and stable, and has a utility drawer, my first box made with the jig. The template, the heart of the jig, is made out of laminated phenolic—it's smooth, slippery and strong. The stock should be no more than in. thick, to use up as little of the vertical travel of the router as possible. I had mine milled at a local machine shop, although I first squared up the stock on a

jointer and carbide saw. The slots,

in. deep, were milled

with a -in. end mill, leaving pins in. wide on -in. centers. A milling machine will easily hold ± .001, and I suspect ± .0025 is tolerable. Job shop time should not exceed 30

and backwards. The scab board is located to guarantee the entry of at least half of the diameter of the bit, and is held snug

minutes, if the stock is presquared.
The template overhangs a pillow block, which is tenoned

to an oak cross-member. Stops on either end of the template
index the workpiece. When indexed on one end the yield is a

pin; the other end yields a socket. The workpiece is clamped vertically against a piece of scab stock, and each side of the
box is cut separately. The router with its -in. outside-

against the template with standard spring plungers (available for about $2 each from Vlier Engineering Corp., 2333 Valley St., Burbank, Calif. 91505). If the template has been cut well but the first joint doesn't fit, the outside diameter of the template guide can be turned down. As a final measure, the router bit can be ground to correct the error in the fit. The router bit should be a -in. carbide two-fluted straight-faced bit that needs sharpening, so if
it doesn't fit you pay for sharpening only once.

diameter template guide and

-in. bit traverses the tines of

the template, as in dovetail-cutting jigs.

To make the table frame for the jig, I used clear kiln-dried
fir: 2x8s yield three pieces about in. wide. I mortised and tenoned all frame members, which measure in. by in. in cross section. I mounted the working parts of the jig on an oak member for stiffness and dimensional stability, then tenoned the member into the table rails. The four press screws that hold the work against the stock have custom-made handles so I could locate the nuts on -in. centers without the handles interfering. Wetzler Clamp Co., 43-13 11th St.,

The scab stock backup board is especially important because without it the router bit will tear out the back side of the panel. One scab board will usually accommodate the four corners of one box because it can be used turned upside-down

Patrick Warner, 35, of Escondido, Calif., has been working in wood part-time for four years and hopes to be making furniture full-time within the next two.

Long Island City, N.Y. 11101 made mine for $7.50 each.

Make dimension A as best fits router base, at least times greater than half the base diameter. Dimension B, and the number of pins, depend on the size of the largest box desired.

Box-joint jig

A Stop for Every Jig
Simple, versatile stops are crucial to accurate machining
by Sander Nagyszalanczy

Setting a crosscut is a breeze with a flip-down stop. The cursor's cross hair of the T-track-mounted flip stop lines up with the desired measurement on a self-adhesive measuring tape stuck on the fence.


ost things that we do in our everyday lives have limits: the maximum speed you're supposed to travel on the highway; the minimum age you must be to buy a bottle of liquor; the most books you can check out of a library at one time. The world of woodworking is no different, except we call the limits measurements. We strive to maintain the exactness of measurements to make parts fit more precisely together, so the joinery will be strong and look

clean. Some measurements are set on our machines, such as the depth of cut of a tablesaw or handplane, and some must be regulated by eye, as when chiseling down to a pencil line. But we regulate a great many limits—measurements for the length or width of parts, depth of grooves and holes—by using stops on our jigs and in conjunction with our tools. Regulating the distance between the end of a part and the point where it's cut to length or machined is a basic function of

stop devices. As with other types of jigs and shopmade setups, there are many different kinds of stops to choose from, each

appropriate for a particular range of tools and applications. The simplest stops are
merely wooden blocks, clamped or screwed to the machine, jig or the work itself. More ingenious stops revolve to adjust or change position. The right stop can

increase the accuracy of an operation, as well as save time when making repeat cuts because parts need not be marked individually. This is why production shops
can't do without the use of stops.

Length stops

Length stops are used mostly for crosscutting or shaping across the width of stock, but they are easily adapted to work with other machines in a variety of applications.
Length stops are commonly used on tablesaws, radial-arm saws, sliding-compoundmiter saws and both powered miter saws and nonpowered (handsaw) miter boxes.

Length stops are also welcome additions to fences used with miter gauges, drill presses, mortising machines, sliding crosscut boxes and other sliding carriage jigs. While the stops described here are shopbuilt, there are several high-quality, commercially produced stop devices on the market, such as the FastTrack stop system

components including the micro-adjusting FastStop (available from Garrett Wade, l6l
Avenue of the Americas, New York, N.Y. 10013; 800-221-2942). Also, the ProScale digital readout (available from Accurate Technologies, 11533 N.E. 118th St., Suite 220, Kirkland, Wash. 98034; 800-233-0580)

can be added to many of the shopmade stops described below.

Adjustable flip-down stops
Probably the most useful kinds of stops for basic crosscutting applications are adjustable flip-down stops. A flip-down stop

is more useful than a simple stop block clamped to the fence because it quickly flips out of the way when it's not needed.
This allows one end of the workpiece (a frame member or molding) to be squared with the stop flipped up. The part is then rotated end for end, and the stop (set and

about any wood or metal crosscutting

sawdust from misaligning the workpiece.

fence, and the stop can be set to any measurement, limited only by the length of the machine's fence. The channel-shaped body of the stop should be about 6 in. to
8 in. long and sized to fit not too snugly over the fence. A threaded insert driven into the back of the channel takes a studded

In use, the stock to be cut doesn't actually contact the machine's fence; one end bears against the face of the channel while the other bears on a short block the same
thickness as the channel that is screwed to the fence next to the blade (see the top view in figure 1).

locked in the desired location) is flipped down to cut the part to final length. The two basic types of flip-down stops presented are illustrated as applied to a radial-arm or other crosscutting saw; however, they can be used as adjustable length stops on many other machines as well.

hand knob, which locks the stop to the fence. The flip stop itself attaches to the channel with a wraparound-style cabinet
hinge, located so the hinge barrel is behind the front face of the channel (see the end view in figure 1 above). This keeps the flip stop completely out of the way when

This arrangement allows you to cut stock that's bowed and won't set stably against the straight fence. The block near the
blade also supports the workpiece near the cut to prevent tearout. To use this stop

Basic flip-down stop—The flip-down stop shown in figure 1 will work with just

it's up. The edge of the channel face and

corner of the stop are chamfered to keep

with a stick-on measuring tape, offset the tape's position, so the blade-to-stop distance can be set by aligning the end of the channel with the desired measurement.

Measuring miters is easy with a
dedicated stop. This flip stop (left)

has been fitted with a 45° block for

mitered ends. The stop's cursor shows
the distance between the inside corner of the miter and the miter creat-

ed when the member is cut.

Eccentric stop offers micro ad-

justments (below). Fine adjustments can be made by rotating the

stop. The off-center hole makes the position of the stop shift slightly,
and the screw locks it down.

Track-mounted flip-down stop—Another flip-down stop, as shown in the photo

The sliding block has a short tongue that
loosely fits the T-slot. A vertical hole

after the track strip has been installed and
calibrated. If you do a lot of dado work or

on p. 67, rides on and locks to a track strip. As shown in figure 2 on the facing page, this adjustable stop setup has four basic pieces: a track strip with measuring tape, a
sliding block, an L-shaped stop, and a

through the center of the block mounts the T-bolt and hand knob that lock the stop assembly to the track strip. Another hole drilled lengthwise through the block
mounts the flip stop via a carriage bolt with

change blades often, additional cross hairs can be added to the cursor to be used with those blades. To adjust the stop for different-thickness
sawblades, you can reposition the track

cross hair and a cursor that allow very accurate settings. The solid-wood track strip has a T-slot routed in the top edge and an
adhesive-backed, stick-on measuring tape

a nylon locknut (a steel nut with a nylon
insert that prevents the nut from turning). The stop itself is cut from -in. goodquality plywood, such as Baltic or Finnish birch, into an L-shape. A notch on the underside of the stop holds a clear plastic

strip, or remove the flip stop from its bolt and add shims (I make these from aluminum beer cans with a leather punch)
as necessary. You can also make up differ-

pressed on (see the top box on p. 71). Flathead screws through slots routed in the

ent stop assemblies, each with a cursor
marked to work with different sawblades,

center of the T-slot mount the track to the
top of the tool's fence. These slots allow

cursor, mounted with a small flat-head
screw through a countersunk hole (for instructions on making a cursor, see the top

molding heads or dado-blade thicknesses.

side-to-side adjustment for calibrating the strip's measuring tape to the blade.

box on p. 71). Mark and etch the cross hair

Multiple flip stops—Because unused flip stops can be set to desired measurements

Rotating stop handles multiple
measurements. This rotating stop

allows you to choose one of four stop positions. When used on a drill-press
fence, as shown here, it can set dis-

tances between closely spaced holes.

and then flipped out of the way, several

flip stops can be set up along the length of the fence. This would be an advantage if, say, you had to cut all the face-frame components for an entire kitchen to length;
stops could be set at all the standard measurements and flipped down whenever

needed during cutout Because flip stops are fairly easy to make, you may wish to
make a half-dozen or more at one time. Cut stock for the channels (simple version) or sliding blocks (T-track version) as

you would a length of molding; then slice off individual blocks.

Flip stop for mitered ends—Either flip
stop described above can be modified to handle boards with mitered ends. If wide
picture-frame molding is mitered and the

width of a standard stop doesn't catch the tip of the miter, make the face of the stop wider. Alternatively, when making picture frames, it's sometimes desirable to measure distances relative to the inside edge
of the frame molding. A shortened flip stop with a 45° triangular block screwed

A hole is drilled through a plywood square; lines are marked for trimming piece, so

Both sides of stop have four

each edge is a different distance from hole.

holes act as detents.

indentations drilled with countersink at same radius (R) from hole; these

on takes care of this situation, as shown in figure 3 on p. 69. A longer cursor must be
fitted and etched to register the position the inside edge of the molding butts up to,

the bottom photo on p. 69.1 use these as end stops on the pivot arms of my routerplate joinery setup, and they are extremely quick to make. First cut a short length of

mounts the stop to the jig. To make fine adjustments to the stop's position, loosen
the screw and rotate the dowel; then lock it in place. You can employ this same principle with even larger stops: Drill an offcenter hole in a sawn-out plywood disc,

as shown in the top photo on p. 69.

Eccentric end stop
Sometimes you need to position a workpiece along a fence in a fixed position, but in a way that allows some fine-tuning. A

dowel with a diameter that suits the application. For a small jig, a -in.-dia. dowel is
about right; for larger jigs, or to yield a greater amount of adjustability, use a 1-in., 1 -in. or larger diameter dowel. Now drill

and screw it down where an adjustable
stop is needed.

simple stop that provides a firm stop, yet provides for a limited amount of adjustment is the eccentric end stop, as shown in

a hole through the dowel lengthwise that's

equidistant between the center and edge. A wood screw through this offset hole

Rotating stop

Sometimes you need to cut, rout or drill two, three or four grooves, shapes or holes

Cursors and stick-on metal rules improve accuracy
Thin metal rules with a pressure-sensitive peel-and-stick backing
provide a convenient way to add an adjustment scale to any fence

or adjustable jig component. Scales are available that read both right to left and left to right (available from Highland Hardware;

800-241-6748). Reading the position of the movable part can be

done by simply mounting the scale underneath the part or by adding a fine cross-hair cursor to the moving part.

To make a cursor, start with a piece of clear plastic. Make a test cut with the cursor installed on the jig to determine the cross
hair's exact location. Then etch the cross hair on the down-fac-

ing side of the plastic using a scratch awl and a try square (see the photo at right). Color in the cross hair with a thin-point permanent marker pen, applied judiciously, to make it easier to see. If you're using a stop fitted with a cursor on a radial-arm saw that uses dado blades or sawblades of various thicknesses, you can etch additional cross hairs on the cursor; position them so they will

represent the location of the cuts produced by those blades.—S.N.

Etched cursors are easy to make. A thin line etched with a scratch awl onto a piece of clear plastic makes the cross hair for a cursor that mounts to a flip stop used on a cutoff saw. Permanent marker on the etched line makes it easier to see.

Making a T-slot track
One of the handiest methods of joining jig parts that must adjust
is to use a T-track and T-bolt fasteners. A T-track is a useful way to

mount fences, stops, hold-down clamps or to attach auxiliary tables and more. You can rout a T-slot into any solid wood, plywood or medium-density-fiberboard (MDF) surface with a special T-slot bit (available from Woodhaven; 800-344-6657 or The Woodworkers' Store; 800-279-4441). The Woodhaven bit requires a -in.- or -in.-dia. straight bit and cuts a T-slot best suited to -in.-dia. T-bolts or toilet bolts. The Woodworkers' Store T-slot bit needs a
-in.-or -in.-dia. groove and is best for -in.-dia. T-bolts.

length. The second pass is taken with the special bit that cuts the
T-slot at the bottom of the groove (see the drawing at right). For

The T-track slot is cut in two passes. The first pass, with a straight bit, makes a plain groove as long as the desired track

applications where a more durable slot is needed, The Woodworkers' Store offers a pressed-steel track that fits -in.-dia. T-bolts. The track, which comes in lengths of 40 in. and 60 in., can be cut with a hacksaw and is designed to be epoxied into a
-in.-wide, -in.-deep slot.

cured with a regular nut, wing nut or hand knob. Standard carriage bolts can be used in T-tracks, but the depth of the T must be
increased with the T-slot bit to clear the head. Carriage bolts can't

that ride in the track. T-bolts are available in

To attach parts or devices to a T-track, use T-bolts or T-slot nuts

and a variety of lengths. Standard toilet bolts (found in hardware stores) can also be used but not in all T-tracks. T-bolts may be se-

-in. and

-in. sizes

take as much torque as T-bolts can without stripping the edges of the slot. T-slot nuts (available from Woodhaven) fit several different screw-thread sizes, from 10-24 to in. These are secured using a machine screw, a bolt or a studded hand screw. —S.N.

that are closely spaced but at a fixed distance from the end of the workpiece. A handy device for this is the rotating end stop, such as the one shown in the photo on the facing page. This stop mounts easily to any fence, carriage or table and can be rotated and locked in any of four positions. Each position provides a different spacing between the end of the workpiece and the cutter or bit you are using. Make the stop by laying out a piece of plywood so that its four sides are each a

different distance from a single hole. Start
with an oversized piece with a hole

off, as on the stop in the photo on the facing page. The position of the rotating stop

marked somewhere in the middle; then use a ruler and a square to mark how the piece must be trimmed (an example is
shown in figure 4 on the facing page). A studded hand knob fits through the hole

can be set manually, or detents can be fitted to reference each position.

Sandor Nagyszalanczy builds custom furniture in Santa Cruz, Calif., and is a contributing editor to Fine Woodworking. This article was adapted from his new book, Woodshop Jigs and Fixtures, which

and into a threaded insert, which is driven
into the fence itself.

To allow the fence-mounted stop to clear
the jig's base when it is rotated (it's too big

diagonally to clear), the corners can be cut

is available from The Taunton Press, Newtown, Conn.; (800) 888-8286.

Wall-mounted panel router is ideal for making quick dadoes. Knowing his panel router had to save space, Skip Lauderbaugh mounted it to a wall at a comfortable height and angle. To build the jig, he used a router he owned and commercial hardware costing less than $100.

Compact Tool Makes Dadoes a Snap
This panel router folds flat against a wall and is inexpensive to build
by Skip Lauderbaugh


any of my cabinetmaking projects require panels that have dadoes, rabbets and grooves to allow strong, easy assembly. I've tried lots of ways of cutting these joints and have found that a panel router is the quickest and most accurate tool to use. Unfortunately, the expense of one of the commercial machines (up to $3,500) and the floor space it requires (up to 25 sq. ft.) is more than I can justify. As is often the case, however, once you have tasted using the proper tool for a particular job, using anything

else becomes a frustrating compromise. I had seen other shopmade panel routers (for one example, see Steven Grever's article in FWW #88, p. 48), but they lacked features I wanted and seemed complicated. So I set out to design and build my own version of a panel router. By simplifying the guide system and by using common materials and hardware (see the drawing on p. 89), I built a panel router for less than $100 (not including the router, which I already owned). And although this jig easily handles big pieces of plywood

and melamine, the jig folds compactly against the wall when it is not in use.

Because the guide rails used in industrial panel routers often get in the way, the rails were the first things I eliminated on my design. The next thing was to orient the machine so that gravity would help feed the router into the work. Big panel routers are oriented horizontally, and they have the capacity to handle 36-in.-wide pieces of plywood. But because shelf dadoes in cab-

Designing the panel router

inets and cases are usually less than 3 ft.

wide, I scaled things down a bit, and I situated the whole setup vertically. This orientation also saved considerable shop
space. Then I came up with a clamp-on

router guidance system, so I don't have to
do any measuring or marking on a panel.

The fence's adjustable stop ensures perfect alignment. A Biesemeyer microadjustable stop and measuring system precisely positions the left side of the work for each dado or groove. Lauderbaugh uses a pair of dividers to point out two cursors that indicate left and right limits of a cut.

Finally, I devised a router subbase that
eliminates depth-of-cut adjustments when

changing material thicknesses. To help you understand the abilities of this tool and how it is constructed, I've divided it into six basic components:
1. The workpiece table

2. The router guide system
3. The fence with adjustable stop

4. The upper and lower guide stops
5. The router subbase

Channels align subbase and evacuate dust—The underside of the router subbase reveals an inverted aluminum guide

6. The router tray

channel and a medium-density fiberboard bottom with dust-evacuation slots cut across it for the bit.

quires a flat, stable work surface with a straight edge for mounting the fence. I chose an ordinary 3-ft.-wide hollow core
door for the table because it provides

The workpiece table—A panel router re-

those things, and at $15, it cost less than
what I could build it for. I mounted the

table to a ledger on the wall. The ledger is
75 in. from the floor to give a comfortable

working height. A 5-in. space from the
wall gives enough clearance for the guide

thor discovered the edges of Clamp 'N Tool Guides nest and slide easily, he made them into a two-piece guide system: An inverted 21-in. piece is fixed to the router subbase, and another piece is clamped to the work.

The key to the router guide is interlocking aluminum track. When the au-

system. Standard door hinges let the table
swing out of the way during storage, and

side supports hold the table at a 65° angle when the table is in use.
The router guide system—Several years ago, I discovered that the aluminum extrusions used in Tru-Grip's Clamp 'N Tool Guides (manufactured by Griset Industries Inc.; see the sources of supply box on p. 89) interlock when one is inverted (see the photo at right). In this configuration, the two pieces slide smoothly back and forth with little side play, like a track. This system has several benefits: A panel can be set directly on the table without having to go under fixed guide rails. The guide is accurately located, and the panel is clamped tightly to the fence and to the table. The clamps are available in several lengths, but I've found that 36 in. is the most convenient (see the sources box). The manufacturer recommends using silicone spray to minimize wear.

stop because it has two adjustable hairline

pointers, which let you set and read both
sides of a dado (see the top photo).

36 in. from the right, so I can dado in the center of an 8-ft.-long panel. To finish off the fence, I glued plastic laminate to the

fence should be 1

The fence with adjustable stop—The
fence holds the bottom edge of a panel
straight, adds a runner for an adjustable

For the adjustable stop to work, the in. thick and the top edge of the fence has to be 1 in. above

top, faces and ends. Before mounting, I cut
a in. by -in. groove in the back to provide for dust clearance, which ensures that
the bottom of a panel stays flush to the

the top of the table. My fence is two thicknesses of -in. plywood laminated to form a 1 -in.-thick piece that is 3 in. wide and

fence. The fence is mounted to the bottom
edge of the table with 2 -in.-long screws.

stop and measuring system, and gives a place to mount the lower guide stop. Fence construction is partially dictated by the

stop you use. I chose a Biesemeyer miter

96 in. long. To allow the router to pass through at the end of a cut, I made a 1-in.deep notch in the fence. The notch is 13 in. long to fit my router. I located this notch

The upper and lower guide stops—
The upper and lower guide stops allow

the Clamp 'N Tool Guide to be set exactly

Setup for dadoes is easy. Just slide the Clamp 'N Tool Guide to the stops, and clamp the guide to the work by snugging

up the black plastic dogs.

Commercial bits make clean cuts
Commercial panel routers work so well because the router bits are specifically designed to eliminate chipping and tearout, and they can also cut at higher feed rates. But their biggest benefit is that their cutter and arbor are two separate pieces (see the photo at right), which means that the arbor can stay secured in the router collet while you simply unscrew the cutter from the -in. arbor to change the bit size. Commercial panel-router bits (see the sources of supply box on the facing page) are available in a full range of sizes, including undersized ones for veneer plywood and oversized ones for two-sided melamine. An arbor and cutter set costs about $35, less than a decent-quality dado blade set. When you need to change the width of a dado, select the correct cutter size, and screw it on the arbor (no wrenches required). The depth of cut doesn't need

Panel-routing bits change easily. The only things the author uses from industrial panel routers are the bits, which have interchangeable cutter tips. to be reset because the height of the cutter stays the same. This process is much quicker than using a dado blade on the tablesaw, where you have to use shims to get the proper width, and then make test cuts to set the depth of cut. —S.L.

board (MDF) bottom, an upper base made out of -in. plywood that mounts to the router, and a piece of upside-down extrusion screwed to the side so it can engage the guide track. Drawing detail B shows the dimensions I used to mount my PorterCable model 690 router. But you could modify the subbase to suit your router. Regardless of the router, the bottom should be in. thick so that the extrusions interlock properly. After the bottom is cut to size, center the baseplate on the bottom, and align the router handles at a right angle to the extrusion. Drill and countersink the mounting holes and mount the upper base to the bottom. Next, carefully, plunge a -in. bit by slowly lowering the router motor. Then cut two dadoes, each in. deep by in. wide across the bottom. The first dado runs the full length and the second goes halfway across, 90° to the first. This T-shaped slot removes dust from the subbase (see the center photo on p. 87). For the piece of inverted extrusion, I obtained stock from the manufacturer. But because they currently don't sell this separately, just buy a 24-in. clamp, and cut off the ends. I used a 21-in.-long piece. The bottom of the router subbase slides directly on the face of the panel so that the depth of cut is registered from the top of the panel. This is desirable because when you switch material thickness from in. to in., for example, the depth of cut does not have to be adjusted. Also, if the panel is slightly warped or some dust gets between the panel and the table, the cutting depth is not affected. Interchangeable bits also speed up the process (see the box at left).

90° to the bottom edge of a panel. The lower guide stop is integrated in the fence (see the top photo on p. 87), and the upper guide stop is fixed to the top of the table. The lower stop is a -in. bolt threaded into a T-nut inset into a block and glued to a notch in the fence. The center of the bolt head should be 1 in. above the work surface, or in. above the bottom of the notch. The upper stop consists of two pieces of -in.-thick plywood laminated to form a 1 -in.-thick piece, 12 in. long. The

top is notched on both ends to leave a 2-in.- by 2 -in.-wide section in the center. Another bolt and T-nut are screwed to the shoulder. The center of this bolt is 1 in. above the bottom of the notch. To finetune the stops for square, turn the bolts, and lock them with a nut. After the stops are set, adhere the measuring tape for the adjustable stops onto the top of the fence.

The router tray—The purpose of the router tray is to give the router a place to rest after it has completed a cut. The tray is mounted to the fence on the back side of the notched-out area. My tray is made out of -in. plywood and is screwed to the fence. On the right edge of the tray, a piece of -in. Plexiglas protrudes into the tray opening. As the router slides down into the tray, the Plexiglas piece fits into a slot cut into the edge of the subbase and prevents the router from lifting out of the tray.

The router subbase—Parts for the router subbase consist of a medium-density fiber-

Using the panel router

The panel-router sequence to make a dado goes like this: First, I set the adjustable

Panel router handles common sheet thicknesses,
stores flat against wall, folds out for use.

stop to locate the dado where I want it. Second, I set the panel on the table and slide it up against the adjustable stop.
Third, I place the Clamp 'N Tool Guide on

ly, I turn the router on and cut the dado. To make stop dadoes, I insert a spacer block in the bottom of the tray to prevent the
router from cutting all the way across a

Sources of supply
Clamp 'N Tool Guide
Adjustable stop
Griset Industries, Inc., P.O. Box 10114,

the panel, slide it against the upper and
lower guide stops, and clamp it down (see

panel. While this setup may not be perfect
for a large production shop, it is certainly

Santa Ana, CA 92711; (800) 662-2892

the top photo on the facing page). In this
one step, the guide is squared to the panel

affordable and conserves space.

Biesemeyer, 216 S. Alma School Road,

and clamped to the table. Fourth, I set the router on the panel with the extrusions interlocked. I hold the router subbase above the top of the panel so the bit clears. Final-

for Blum hardware and a college woodworking instructor. His shop is in Costa Mesa, Calif.

Skip Lauderbaugh is a sales representative

Suite 3, Mesa, AZ 85210; (800) 782-1831

Panel-router bits

Real, Atascadero, CA 93442; (805) 466-1563

Safranek Enterprises, Inc., 4005 El Camino

Router Fixture Takes on Angled Tenons
Versatile device ensures tight joints every time
by Edward Koizumi


e live in a turn-of-the-century Arts-and-Crafts house, so it seemed quite natural to furnish it with pieces from that era. My wife bought a pair of Mission armchairs a couple of years ago to go with a 9-ft.-long cherry table I’d built for our dining room. Six months later, she bought two side chairs. It would be a while before we could afford a full set. Within earshot of my wife, I heard myself say, “How hard could it be to make these?” “Oh, could you?” she asked. “Sure,” I said. The chairs looked straightforward enough, just a

cube with a back. Upon closer examination, I realized that the seat was slightly higher and wider in the front than in the back. For the first time, I was faced with compound-angled joinery. I thought about dowels, biscuits and loose tenons, so I could keep the joinery simple, but I wasn’t confident in the strength or longevity of these methods. I wanted good, old-fashioned, dependable mortise-and-tenon joints. After some thought, I decided an adjustable router fixture would be the simplest solution that would let me make tenons of
September/October 1995

Bottom photo: Boyd Hagen


Tenon-routing fixture for compound angles
This fixture, adjustable in two planes, is designed to let you rout compound-angled tenons consistently and accurately. The tenons can be either squared or rounded, depending on which guide frame you use (right).

Guide frames

Guide frames are C-clamped to the tabletop.

Reference line

Tabletop Register bar Recess provides screw clearance. Reference lines Window Turn button for dust collector. Slotted holes let you adjust guide frames for a range of tenon widths.

Trunnion assembly

Tabletop is C-clamped to benchtop.

Pivot rod, ⁄8 in. dia., 16 in. long

Work platen Cork facing Work clamp slides onto clamping studs.


Pivot support Cursor line Miterbar clamp

Arc clamp block

Miter bar

Front Angle scale taped here Side

widely varying sizes and angles (see the photos on p. 77). The fixture I came up with is as easy to set up as a tablesaw. In fact, there are some similarities (see the drawing above). The workpiece is held below a tabletop in a trunnion-type assembly that adjusts the tilt angle (see the bottom photo on p. 77). For compound angles, a miter bar rotates the workpiece in the other plane. The fixture can handle stock up to 2 in. thick and 5 in. wide (at 0°-0°) and angles up to 25° in one plane and 20° in the other. This is sufficient for chairs, which seldom have angles more than 5°.

To guide the router during the cut, I clamp a guide frame to the fixture over the window in the tabletop (more on positioning it later). And I plunge rout around the tenon on the end of the workpiece. The guide frame determines the tenon’s width and length, as well as whether the ends will be square or round (see the photo on p. 81). I made two frames, both adjustable, one for roundcornered tenons, the other for square tenons. The fixture and guide frames took me just over a day to make, once I’d figured out the design. Then I spent about an hour alignDrawings: Heather Lambert

78 Fine Woodworking

Angles in one plane (side view)

Register bar

Guide frame


Mirror, hot-glued in place Index pin Miter bar

For simple angled tenons, a trunnion-like assembly allows the workpiece to be tilted in one plane.

Compound angles (front view)

Guide frame


Work clamp

nestled between two pivot supports. Between the two arcs is a work platen, or surface, against which I clamp the component to be tenoned. There are other parts, but basically, the fixture is just a table to slide the router on and a movable platen to mount the workpiece on. I built the fixture from the inside out, beginning with the work platen (see the drawing on the facing page). Because I didn’t have any means of boring a 10-in.-long hole for the threaded rod on which the arcs pivot, I dadoed a slot in the platen and then glued in a filler strip. Next I located, center punched and drilled the holes for the T-nuts and retaining nuts that hold the clamping studs in place. Center punching ensures that the holes are exactly where they’re supposed to be, which is important for a fixture that’s going to be used over and over again. I center-punched the location for every hole in this fixture before drilling. Before attaching the clamping studs to the work platen, I made the arcs, which go on the sides of the work platen. I laid out the arcs (and the pivot supports) with a compass, bandsawed and sanded the arcs, and drilled a hole for the pivot rod through the pair. I glued and screwed the arcs to the platen. After giving the glue an hour or so to set, I tapped the T-nuts into the back of the work platen, screwed in the clamping studs and twisted on retaining nuts, which I tightened with a socket and a pair of pliers. I made the pivot supports next. Then I cut a piece of threaded rod 16 in. long and deburred its ends with a mill file. I slipped the threaded rod through the pivot supports, arcs and work platen, capped it at both ends with a nut and washer, and made and attached the arc clamps (see the top drawing at left). Then came the tabletop. I cut it to size, cut a window in it and marked reference lines every 1⁄8 in. along the front edge for the first 2 in. With the tabletop upside down on a pair of sawhorses, I put the trunnion assembly upside down on the underside of the tabletop. Then I positioned the front of the pivot supports against the front edge of the tabletop and made sure the work platen was precisely parallel to the front edge and centered left to right. That done, I drilled and countersunk holes for connecting screws through the tabletop into the pivot supports. I glued and screwed the pivot supports to the tabletop. Then it was time to make the miter bar, miter-bar clamp and the work clamp (see the drawings at left). The mirror on the miter-bar clamp makes it easy to read the angle scale from above. I faced the work clamp with cork to prevent marring workpieces and counterbored it to take up the release springs. The release springs are a nice touch. They exert a slight outward pressure on the work clamp, causing it to move away from the platen when loosening the knobs to remove a workpiece. The guide frames—Now for the guide frames, which clamp to the tabletop and limit the travel of the router. I made the frames adjustable lengthwise to handle a variety of tenoning situations. But their width is fixed. To determine the width of the frames, I added together the desired tenon width, the diameter of the bit I was using and the diameter of the router base. If your plunge router doesn’t have a round base, you should either make one from acrylic or polycarbonate (you can cut it with a circle-cutting jig on a bandsaw), or buy an aftermarket version. I screwed the frame together in case I need to alter the opening later (for a new router bit, for example). I marked a centerline along the length of the frame on both ends.

Move miter-bar clamp down to get full swing of miter bar.

Miter bar

For compoundangled tenons, the miter bar positions the workpiece at an angle in a second plane.

ing the fixture and making test tenons in preparation for routing the tenons on the chair parts. The fixture worked just as planned and allowed this relatively inexperienced woodworker to produce eight chairs that match the originals perfectly.

Making the fixture and guide frames
The fixture is simple to build. It consists of only two main parts, the trunnion assembly and the tabletop. The trunnion assembly (see the drawing on the facing page) is essentially a pair of arcs

Initial alignment
Before I could use the fixture, I had to get everything in proper alignment and put some angle scales on it. I printed out some anSeptember/October 1995



gle scales from my personal computer and taped them to my fixture with double-faced tape. But a protractor and bevel gauge also will work just fine to create angle scales for both the tilt angle and the miter angle. To align the parts of the fixture, I flipped it upside down on the end of my bench and clamped it there. I used a framing square to set both the work platen and the miter bar at 90°, sticking the blade of the square up through the window of the tabletop and resting the tongue of the square flush against the inverted face of the tabletop. Then I stuck the angle scales on the two pivot supports and on the bottom of the work platen.

Routing test tenons
Next I routed test tenons with the fixture set at 0°-0°. I positioned the guide frame parallel to the front edge and centered on the window in the tabletop and clamped it to the fixture. I clamped a test piece the same thickness and width as the actual component in the fixture, with one end flush with the top surface of the tabletop. To do this, I brought the test piece up so that it just touched a flat bar lying across the window (see the near left photo). I set my plunge router for the correct depth and routed the tenon clockwise to prevent tearout. I made a test mortise using the same bit I planned to use for the mortises in the chair. The fit wasn’t quite right. So I adjusted and shimmed the frame until the tenon fit perfectly. If you rout away too much material and end up with a sloppy tenon on your test piece, you can just lop off the end and start over. Once I had a tenon that was dead-on, I made an acetate pattern that allowed me to position the guide frame accurately for all tenons of the same size, regardless of the angle. I cut a heavy sheet of acetate (available at most art-supply stores) so that it would just fit into the guide-frame opening. I marked a centerline along the length of the acetate that lines up with the centerline down both ends of the guide frames. I also indicated which end was up and where the acetate registered against the guide frame. Then I put the test piece with the perfectly fitted tenon back into the fixture, laid the acetate into the opening in the guide frame and traced around the perimeter of the tenon end using a fine-tip permanent marker.

Mark out the tenon on a test piece. The test piece should be the same thickness and width as the actual components, but length isn’t important.

Make the workpiece flush with the tabletop. The author uses a piece of milled steel, but the edge of a 6-in. ruler would work as well.

Routing angled tenons
With the pattern, routing angled tenons is pretty straightforward. I crosscut the ends of all the pieces I was tenoning at the appropriate angles and marked out the first tenon of each type on two adjacent sides, taking the angles off a set of full-scale plans. Then I extended the lines up and across the end of the workpiece (see the top left photo). Having set the fixture to the correct angles, I brought the workpiece flush with the tabletop using a flat piece of steel as a reference (see the top right photo). Then I clamped the workpiece in place. Finally, I set the acetate pattern in the guide-frame opening and positioned the guide frame so that the pattern and the marked tenon were perfectly aligned (see the photo at left). With the guide frame clamped in place, I removed the acetate and routed that tenon. All other identical tenons needed only to be flushed up and routed. After the first, it was quick work. There are pitfalls though. I found it important to chalk orientation marks on each workpiece. It can get confusing with two angles, each with two possible directions. And I had to be especially careful when routing the second end of a component. Make sure it’s oriented correctly relative to the first. I messed up a couple of times and have learned to plan for mistakes by milling extra parts and test pieces. You might even end up with an extra chair.
Photos except where noted: Vincent Laurence

Make a pattern. An outline of the tenon traced on acetate helps align the guide frame for cutting any tenons of the same size.

80 Fine Woodworking

Guide frame determines thickness and width of tenons. The author keeps the router’s base against the inner edges of the guide frame and routs clockwise to prevent tearout. Guide frames can produce round-cornered or square-cornered tenons.

To get flat surfaces on curved parts so I could clamp them in the fixture, I saved the complementary offcuts and taped them to the piece I was tenoning. Or I could have tenoned first and bandsawed the curves later. For pieces with shoulders wider than the bit I’m using to remove waste, I clamp a straight piece of wood—a register bar—against the guide frame (a small pocket for screw clearance may need to be made), as shown in the drawing on p. 78. That way I can rout most of the tenon, unclamp the guide frame, slide it forward (using the reference lines at the forward end of the tabletop to keep it parallel), clamp it down and then rout the remainder. I start the next piece in the same place and return the guide frame to the original position to finish the tenon. Edward Koizumi is a professional model maker in Oak Park, Ill.

Set correctly, the fixture will yield tight joints, whether the tenons are straight, angled or compound-angled. Here, the author tests the fit of a seat-rail tenon into a leg mortise.
September/October 1995


Template Routing Basics
by Pat Warner


n 24 years of self-taught woodworking, I've made a lot of mistakes. Early in my career, though, I made a fortunate one. It started a learning process with the router that I'm still working on today. I had discovered what looked like a devilishly simple technique for cutting dadoes. I used a board clamped across the workpiece to guide the router base. The first

dado looked great, but the second wandered visibly off course. That day, I learned that a router base is never concentric with the bit. Turning the router as I cut the dado put a curve in it. I began to look for better ways to guide routers. Some of the best, I have learned, are with templates. These are simply patterns of the shapes you want to cut. The

Three bits for routing with templates
bearings, but they have the decided advantage of allowing you to cut at any depth in both side and bottom cuts. Fitted to the router's base and used with straight bits, they work much like pattern bits. Collar guides also act as a shield for the bit. You'll find that you will inflict a lot less injury to the template and the work by using them. Collar guides do have disadvantages. Because the collar must be larger in diameter than the cutter, the line of cut is displaced from the template. This offset means the finished work will never be exactly the same shape as the template. And collar guides are never exactly concentric with the bit: in. eccentricity is typical. A way to compensate for this is to keep the same part of the collar in contact with the template throughout the cut.

Straight bits and collar guides are the most versatile: Collars are not as accurate as

Pattern bits are the most accurate: I choose pattern bits when I need the most accuracy. The bearings are typically concentric to the bit within .002 in. or better. Bearings do not leave as smooth a cut as collar guides, though the difference is generally minute. This is due to the way bearings can bounce against the template ever so slightly and very rapidly. Over time, this bouncing tends to wear the template edge unevenly. The biggest disadvantage to bearing bits is that they're restricted to a small range of depth settings. The bearing must always engage the edge of the template. I've also found that bits of this design often have diameters slightly larger than their bearings. If you run this kind of bit with some of the cutter in contact with the template, you'll rout away some of the template. Measure your bits with calipers or test them to make sure this doesn't happen.

Flush-trimming bits are the most common: The main advantage to using flush-trimming bits for template work is that they are easier to find and slightly cheaper than pattern bits. They also come in smaller diameters than pattern bits, allowing cuts into tighter inside curves. Otherwise, they have many disadvantages. Bottom cuts such as mortises are impossible. In other applications, the workpiece can hide the template from view, and the router must ride on the work. If it's a small or thin piece, the router will not be stable. —P.W.

Simple guides make your router an accurate jack-of-all-trades

router registers against a template, using it as a guide through the cut. The simplicity of templates, though, gives no hint of how powerful a tool they make the router. The router's usefulness and versatility begin with the tremendous variety of bits that are available. With only a ball bearing on the end of the bit as a guide, you are really limited to detailing edges. When you

use a template, however, you free the

router from following the edge of the workpiece. The router becomes capable of two more fundamental woodworking tasks: milling repeatable patterns and all kinds of joinery.
You can easily make your own inexpensive, simple and accurate templates for a

wide variety of joints and patterns. The ini-

tial investment of time to make a template for a precise task is well worth it. Your router will perform that task far faster and far more reliably than other tools can. And it's much harder to make mistakes when you are using templates. Templates will allow you to repeat cuts and shapes perfectly, but only if you remember to use the same bit with the same

Cutting multiples

A straight bit and collar guide make a good combination for cutting a stack of profiled pieces, like decorative shelf supports. The bits can cut stock of any thickness and will produce a smoother edge than a bearing-guided bit. One thing to keep in mind: The template and the finished piece will not be identical because the collar guide keeps the bit away from the edge of the template.
Straight bit and collar guide with template over work

A template for butt hinge mortises

A pattern bit is a good choice for cutting shallow mortises precisely and quickly. To make the template, align the hinge on a piece of template stock, and then mark the outline with a pencil. Bandsaw out most of the waste, and reposition the hinge on the template stock. Clamp straight-edged scrap around the hinge to define the edges of the mortise (1). A paper shim will prevent the mortise from being too tight. Then remove the hinge, and rout to the line with the scrap as a guide (2). Remove the scrap, and you have a finished template that cuts an accurate mortise (3).

collar at the same depth. The best place to record this information is directly on the template itself.

The best way to learn the basics of template routing is to make and use some simple templates. But before looking at the practical applications for templates illustrated on these pages, it's a good idea to start with some general advice about how to make them, what materials to use and the best ways to use them. The most difficult part of template rout-

Make precise templates

ing is making the template itself. All the important information about the final shape you want to rout is encoded in the design of the template. The more accurately you make your templates, the more time you'll save in the long run. You'll do less sanding, fitting and fudging afterward. Sawing, rasping and filing are time-consuming and tedious ways to make templates. It's also very hard to make a perfect curve with hand tools. I never make a template by hand unless there is no other way. I've found that accurate templates are most easily made with sanders and, yes, routers,

templates and other guides. Templates should be dimensionally stable, durable and capable of taking fine details. Solid wood is a poor choice because it's not dimensionally stable. Steel is stable and durable, but to a fault. If you accidentally touch a spinning bit to one, you'll probably wreck both the bit and the template. Acrylic and Lexan are transparent and allow you to see the work beneath. They also won't kill bits. But be aware that a slow bearing will generate enough heat from friction to melt them. Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is the best all around

Template for routing small pieces

pieces as well as guide the router. Coupled with a pattern bit, the template above makes short work of cutting tapered coffee table legs. The workpiece is held on the template with toggle clamps. To keep toggle clamps out of the way while routing, the author flips the template upside down on the workbench (left). Blocks between template and bench provide room for the toggle clamps.
Use a pattern bit for tapered legs

Templates can be made so they hold small

choice. Mind you, it isn't perfect. It's toxic and unpleasant to work with.
You can use any one of the three kinds of router bits designed for template work. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses (for more, see the story on p. 48). Some bits are especially well-suited to certain kinds of templates, but all of them can bring speed and reliability to repetitive work.

Four everyday templates

make a single curved shape, like a decorative shelf support, might be just as fast as template routing it. But only the first time. If you make any more, template routing will be faster and easier. A router bit leaves a
much smoother edge than a scroll saw, and

you can adjust the cutting depth to match the thickness of the shelf-support stock (see the photos and drawing on p. 49). Collar guides, however, will displace the cut from the exact edge of the template.
With straight lines, this merely entails positioning the template the offset distance

Template for repeatable shapes—Using
a scroll saw and an oscillating sander to

the edge will need far less sanding. Make the template much the way you would make the support if you had no templates. Smooth, gradual curves on MDF are best obtained by sanding to layout lines on a stationary belt sander. For this kind of work, it's easiest to use a straight bit with a collar guide because

from the layout line. The lines will be just as straight. It's a different story with curves. A collar will make the bit cut slightly larger radii on outside curves and smaller radii on inside curves. The result will be a finished piece slightly different from the template. In com-

Routing a through mortise
Deep mortises can be cut accurately by starting with a template and straight bit with a collar and finishing up with a flush-trimming bit. First rout the mortise as waste as you can, and then flip the workpiece over (2), A flush-trimming bit that follows the upper part of the previously cut mortise will finish the job.
First pass with pattern bit

is reduced to less than 20%. A router that
wobbles with a lot of cutter engaged can

deeply as you can with the template as a guide (1). Then drill through to the other side. Remove as much

break the cutter, tear the stock and template, or even cause a kickback that sends the router to the floor. The machine has to stay flat and stable at all times. This butt hinge has rounded corners the same diameter as the bit. If it had square corners, you'd have to do some handwork to make the hinge fit. A bit with a larger diameter than the corners would also require handwork. Just never use a bit with a smaller diameter, or you'll have gaps to patch.

Cutting tapers on small pieces—Some
workpieces are far too small to rout safely if they are sandwiched between a workbench and a template. To taper legs for a coffee table, for instance, I built a template (or a jig, if you like) that holds the workpiece firmly in place with toggle clamps, as shown in the photos and drawing on p. 51. Guide blocks position the side and end of the leg but leave enough room behind them to clamp the template upside down to a workbench edge. In use, neither the toggle clamps nor the clamps holding the template to the bench get in the way. To get a good, smooth taper, you need only secure the guide blocks at the desired angle in relation to the edge of the template. As the router follows the edge, it cuts the taper angle of the blocks in the leg. Compared with tablesaw techniques that require more complex jigs, put fingers at risk and leave a coarse cut, this one is far superior.

Finish with flush-trimming bit

Template for through mortises—The
plunge router is the best tool for inside

plementary template work, this is a crucial consideration. But with something like the profile of a shelf support, the difference is not consequential. To tell where the bit will actually cut, run a pen in a loose bearing with the same offset as the collar along the template to draw the layout line.

Cutting shallow mortises—Cutting shallow mortises that are clean and evenly
deep—like those that you would want for butt hinges—is a difficult task with traditional tools. Except for the very smallest

hinges, a router guided by a template will give you more accurate cuts faster and with less variation between them. The photos and drawings on p. 50 show you how to make one. Once you've made this template well, it's hard to go wrong using it as long as you are careful. Router stability on the template is essential to an accurate and safe cut. A 6-in. round base router with a -in.-dia. bit will have no more than 45% of its footprint on the template in an edge cut. If you make a turn around a 90° corner, that percentage

template cuts, such as mortises,-but it needs a lot of support to make it safe and accurate. Plunge routers are top heavy and have comparatively small bases. This make them excellent candidates for router teeter-totter problems. A template for mortising must be large enough so that the plunge router's base is completely supported by the template at all times during the cut. The photos and drawings at left show a very simple technique to make a through mortise deeper than any bit you own.

His book Getting the Very Best from Your

Pat Warner is something of a jack-of-alltrades. A woodworker, college instructor and tool-industry consultant, he also manufactures the Warner Offset Routerbase.

Router was released last fall by Betterway Books. He lives in Escondido, Calif.


for the Drill Press
Increase the versatility of this basic machine using low-cost, shopmade accessories

ike most power tools, the drill press won't tackle too many woodworking jobs without jigs to hold work safely and securely. I make all of my jigs out of wood and wood products such as plywood and medium-density fiberboard (MDF). I make the jigs as simple as can be and use them to handle stock of odd shapes and sizes and to bore at any angle. The drill press is primarily designed for metalworking. Its metal stock table is too small for clamping large boards. So the first order of business is to add a larger auxiliary table made of MDF or plywood. A simple solution is to screw the auxiliary table to the stock one. Or if you prefer a table that's fast to remove, make one that can be clamped to the metal table (see the photos at right). Every drill press needs a fence When drilling a large hole, a bit can grab a board and turn it into a spinning weapon. Unless you enjoy getting slapped around by lumber, keep a fence clamped to your drill-press table. Even if

To provide a larger working surface, clamp an auxiliary table made of plywood or MDF to the stock drill-press table.


Stop blocks, either hinged (left) or in the form of spacers (right), guarantee accurate results when boring multiple pieces or a series of holes.

of safety because it will stop sudden rotation of a workpiece. A fence is a must when you need to drill multiple holes a set distance from the edge of the stock. The only critical adjustment is the distance from the center of the drill bit to the edge of the fence.
Clear away chips from the edge of the fence when registering stock against it. And use a straightedge to check your fence regularly to make sure it hasn't warped.

stock isn't butted right up to the fence, it still provides a measure

The sliding table has a fence and requires a stop block to locate the start of the mortise. I also clamp a stop block to the underside of the sled to control the length of the mortise. To use the jig, hold

ed to the drill-press table (see the top photos and drawing on p. 74). The sled is made up of a double layer of glued-up material, thick enough to plow grooves for the runners, which are glued in place, without weakening it.

or clamp stock in place and use an end mill, a metalworking bit, to

Use stop blocks when drilling multiples—Whenever you must drill more than one of something, use stop blocks to register stock. The method is faster and more accurate than marking individual pieces. A stop block is nothing more than a piece of wood clamped to the drill-press fence. I also have a shopmade tilt-up
place it (see the drawing and left photo above). For drilling multiple holes in a workpiece, such as when drilling shelf pins for a bookshelf or cabinet, I use a series of spacers to register stock (see the right photo above). Line the spacers up along the fence, registering the first one against a stop block. Position the stock against the last spacer, drill a hole, then remove one block. Repeat. I have a stack of different-sized blocks within easy reach of my drill press.

bore the mortise. Take light passes. If it chatters, switch to a bradpoint bit, smaller in diameter than the end mill, predrill a series of holes and clean up the walls of the mortise using the end mill.

Nonsquare stock must be held firmly
Bowling balls come to mind, but that's another article. Cylindrical stock can be held using a V-shaped block, which provides twoOnce in a while you'll need to drill stock that isn't flat or square.

stop that I can move out of the way, but not so far away that I mis-

By trapping stock between two stop blocks, a mortise can be roughed out using a brad-point bit.

Two ways to cut mortises on the drill press
A brad-point bit will do a pretty good job of establishing a neat
Before I owned a plunge router, I used my drill press for mortising.

down the mortise, overlapping holes a little. Leave some wood for

row of holes that can be cleaned up with a chisel (see the photo at right). Use a straight fence and stops to locate both ends of the mortise. Drill the two outside holes first and then work your way

the brad-point center to bite into; otherwise, the bit will drift.

I also made a sliding table for mortising on the drill press. The table has two parts: a movable sled, which is fitted with a pair of runners, and a base, which has grooves for the runners and is boltDrawings: Vince Babak

The jig slides back and forth on runners. Using an end mill (a metalworking bit), the author takes light passes to cut a mortise.

point contact and plenty of stability (see the left photo below). To make a V-block, rip a groove on one side of a thick piece of wood, such as a 2x4, using the tablesaw with the blade tilted 45°.
For other shapes, you just have to improvise. Wooden screw clamps are good at holding oddly shaped pieces. Clamp the wood screw to the drill-press table, then clamp the stock to be drilled in

0° if I can avoid it. Plus, the angle gauges that come with most drill presses leave a lot to be desired. I have found that the simplest way to drill angles other than 90°
is to tilt the stock, not the drill-press table. The first step is to mark the desired angle onto the stock. Then place a piece of scrap wood under one end of the workpiece. You may have to move things

if you have doubts.

the screw clamp. Err on the side of more rather then fewer clamps

Tilt the stock when drilling at angles other than 90°
Most drill-press tables tilt along one axis. But I am admittedly lazy,

around until the layout mark is in line with the drill bit. Use a square or triangle, if needed. Before drilling, be sure the workpiece is stable.
A more stable angle-drilling jig can be made by joining two pieces of plywood with a piano hinge (see the right photo below).

and I don't like moving my table back and forth and retruing it to

By wedging a wood block between the two plywood pieces, you

The V-block can be made on a tablesaw by ripping a groove in thick scrap with the blade set at 45°.
Connect two pieces of plywood with a piano hinge. Fit a wood wedge between the leaves to create the angle needed.

Photos: Anatole Burkin

For boring into end grain, an adjustable table and fence provide a solid clamping surface. Wedges may be placed between the stock and base of the drill press for additional stability.

can reach the desired angle. Or better yet, screw the block in place
so that it won't creep on you.

me the first angle. The second angle comes by way of a pianohinged jig. As a precaution, place layout marks on the stock and
double-check them before boring away.

A dedicated angle jig for drilling pocket holes—There are a
lot of ways to attach a tabletop. One method is to run a screw I drill these pocket holes using a dedicated tilted fence on the drill press. I made the fence of solid stock and ripped one face at 15° on
To drill the apron, hold or clamp it against the fence. Use a standard twist-drill bit when drilling at an angle, although a Forstner bit would also be appropriate. Feed the bit slowly to prevent it

through a pocket hole drilled on the insides of the table's aprons.

Use a two-part jig to drill into end grain Drilling into long boards requires one of two things: great patience

the tablesaw.

from grabbing.

Compound angles—There are two types of compound angles: equal and unequal. Equal is just that; both angles are the same. But chairs are rarely that simple. For example, a stool leg may hit the floor at an 80° angle from one side and 82° from the other side. That's an unequal compound angle. Compound angles force me to tilt the drill-press table. That gets

That usually entails a lot of fiddling. Here's a better way. Make up a vertical two-part drilling jig (see the photo and drawing above). The jig is similar to the mortising jig in that it consists of a base and a movable sled with a fence. Stock clamped to the fence and the workpiece can be moved fore or aft and remain plumb (or at whatever angle the jig was set to). Just like a tablesaw, the drill press can handle a lot of jobs in the workshop, but the machine demands a host of jigs before it truly
performs to capacity.
Gary Rogowski is a contributing editor to Fine Woodworking and an author and teacher in Portland, Ore.

table to 90° and maneuver the stock into position and clamp it.

or another indispensable jig. You can simply tilt your drill-press

Seven Jigs
for Drilling Cup-Hinge Holes
These small, portable gadgets let you drill 35mm Forstner-bit holes without a drill press

designated jig just to drill a hole? If you have cup hinges to mount, the answer just might be yes, because to make the hinge both strong and easy to install, the cup is designed to fit snugly into a 35mm hole bored in a cabinet door. A cup hinge installed in a sloppy hole won’t enjoy full strength. So you want the hole to be a good one. That’s exactly what these jigs promise to help you do. The jigs come in a variety of designs. Some offer stark simplicity at a low cost. Others are more sophisticated and come with a price that reflects that refinement. But all of these jigs have a couple things in common. They get their power from an electric or cordless drill. And they serve as a surrogate tool for the drill press, supporting the 35mm bit when a drill press can’t be used. Without that support, a large bit like this will skitter around the wood. These jigs are especially handy when you’re faced with drilling cup-hinge holes in a door that’s large and unwieldy. Just clamp the door to your workbench, then mount the jig and drill. The jigs are also handy if you’re installing cup hinges at a remote site, where there’s no access to a drill press. All of the jigs allow you to adjust the distance from the edge of the door to the edge of the hole—a dimension called the “backset” or “tab.” This dimension provides the necessary clearance for the door to open. Also, each jig has a mark, usually a notch, that serves as a guide to positioning it on the door. Use a square and a sharp pencil to mark the hinge centerline. Then align the pencil line with the notch on the jig. Most of the jigs have some sort of clamping system that anchors the jig to the cabinet door as you drill. A couple jigs are handheld. One has to be screwed down. With a few exceptions, the jigs also provide some sort of means to position and guide a smaller drill bit to bore pilot holes for two mounting screws that secure the cup to the door. It’s easy to see how one of these portable gadgets can have a useful place in a workshop. So when asked by Fine Woodworking to give the jigs a workout, I was happy to comply. (An unexpected dividend from drilling countless cup holes during my 27year career as a cabinetmaker.)


Cup hinges simplify door installations
Cup hinges, also called European-style or concealed hinges, came into prominence in Europe immediately after World War II. These hinges still are the standard in Europe, but despite years of favor there, the hinges didn’t attract much attention in the United States until some 15 to 20 years ago. That’s when cabinetmaker’s here began to recognize that there’s a lot to like about them. For example, the hinges are completely out of sight when the cabinet door is closed (hence the moniker, concealed hinges), and they pack plenty of strength. Plus, they can be installed quickly and allow considerable adjustment of the door after it has been installed. Cup hinges are commonly available as two-piece hinges. The cup and mounting plate are mounted separately. Then, much like you’d secure a seat belt, the cup half of the hinge and the door it’s mounted to simply slip into the mounting plate and lock securely in place. The mechanism makes it easy to disengage the two halves of the hinge, so the door can be removed for easy cleaning. Some cup hinges can be installed entirely without screws: They simply press into place. Others offer various types of quick-mounting attachments. Cup hinges really shine after they’ve been installed. Because simply by turning a few screws, you can adjust the door in three planes: up or down, side to side and in or out. As a result, you can just about be certain that a door is going to end up fitting perfectly. You’ll find cup hinges at many hardware stores or building supply centers. You can also get them on-line at or

Door Cabinet side


Cup hinge Mounting screw 35mm hole for cup

Rex Alexander builds furniture and cabinets in Brethren, Mich.
Drawing: Vince Babak; photos, except where noted: Tom Begnal; this page: Erika Marks





Among the jigs tested, the Euro Easy Drill is unique in that it must be screwed to the door before drilling can begin. Then, once the cup hole has been startStart drilling. The hole in the jig ed, the jig is removed, and the hole is completed by acts as a bushing, keeping the eyeballing the final depth. Backset adjustment is Forstner bit contained and prepossible with the Euro Easy Drill, but it requires fidventing it from skittering around as the cut starts. dling with screws and a square to make sure everything lines up. If you don’t have a drill press and have only a few hinges to mount, this jig will do a decent job. But the lack of a mounting clamp and a depth stop slows down everything, so you’ll need to bring a good measure of patience to the shop. The Euro Jig is available for $8.99 from Woodcraft (800-225-1153); a 35mm bit costs $22.99.


A removable stop block, attached to the underside of Drilling the mounting holes. A the Euro-Eze II, is used to establish any of eight self-centering bit is used to drill backset options. A Forstner bit is included. the pilot holes for the mounting screws. The jig has four pairs of The clamp works okay. And the backset is easy to predrilled holes for the bit. set up. However, even though I’d given the brass nut on the depth stop a good hand-tightening, the stop slipped about 1⁄8 in. after drilling a few holes in oak. I then discovered the nut could be hand-tightened another quarter turn or so, apparently because the bit heated during the cuts and softened the plastic collet and hub that are part of the stop system. The stop stayed securely in place after that second tightening. A self-centering bit is available as an option. It fits nicely into predrilled holes for the mounting screws. This jig has a low price and is simple to use. If your budget is limited, and you have only an occasional need to drill holes for cup hinges, the Euro-Eze II is worth considering. But keep an eye on the depth stop. Woodworker’s Supply (800-645-9292) sells the jig ($29.95) and the optional selfcentering pilot-hole bit ($9.95 for a 7⁄64-in.-dia. bit; $29.95 for a 5mm version).

This jig has two main parts: a template (a steel base with a hardwood fence) and a plastic housing that accepts the built-in Forstner bit. The fence maintains an accurate backset. And clamping the jig is quick and easy. The Jig-It doesn’t have guide holes for drilling the pilot holes for the mounting screws. The housing is a nice feature because it helps keep the bit square to the jig as you drill. And because the housing simply lifts off the base after a hole has been bored, the chips don’t pack around the bit, a nuisance I ran into with a couple of the other jigs. The Jig-It sells for $29.99 (Forstner bit not included) at Rockler (800-2794441). A 35mm, carbon-steel Forstner bit costs $15.49; carbide costs $28.49.

Keeping square. The housing helps keep the bit square to the door as the hole is drilled.



Photos, this page (top left, top right, bottom left): Erika Marks

V E R I TA S H I N G E - B O R I N G J I G

Handheld. This jig isn’t designed to be clamped or secured to the door. Instead, you hold the jig in place with a handle that extends out the front. The author would have preferred a clamp.

Machine-screw fence. A pair of knurled, brass machine screws serves as the fence.

The Veritas is a nicely built jig that’s designed to be handheld. A pair of brass machine screws serves as an easy-to-adjust fence. The depth stop works well. A long, bent rod that mounts to either side of the jig quickly allows you to set all of the holes the same distance from the door top and bottom. A built-in carbide-tipped Forstner bit comes with the jig. But the design could use a little tweaking. For instance, when trying to drill a pilot hole for the mounting-plate screws, the drill chuck butted against the jig, preventing me from drilling a hole that was square to the door. All in all, this is a sturdy jig that looks like it could hold up to drilling lots of holes. The jig felt comfortable in my hand, but it was awkward to hold flat when drilling. My preference would be to clamp it in place. The Veritas Hinge-Boring Jig sells for $99.75 from Lee Valley Tools (800-871-8158).

Like the Veritas Hinge-Boring Jig, the Euro Drill is handheld. With a pivoting stop on each side, you can quickly position the center of the hinge at the commonly used dimension of 33⁄4 in. from either end of the door. The depth stop is easy to use. However, the Euro Drill doesn’t offer a way to drill pilot holes for the mounting screws. The chips have a tendency to pack pretty solidly around the Forstner bit, so plan to clean them out after drilling each hole. This sturdy jig looks like one a professional might have in his toolbox. I just wish there could be a quick way to clamp the jig rather than hold it in place by hand. As was the case with the Veritas jig, the Euro Drill was awkward to hold flat as I drilled. You can buy the Euro Drill from McFeely’s (800-4437937). The price, not including a Forstner bit, is $98.95. A 35mm carbide-tipped Forstner bit will cost another $23.95.
Photos, this page (top left, bottom right): Erika Marks

Packing them in. With no place to go, the chips quickly pack around the Forstner bit, even after one cut. The author used an air-compressor hose to blow out the chips after boring each hole.



Dial in the backset. Setting the backset is just a matter of turning a pair of multisided blocks.

The Ecodrill is designed for use with hinges made by Blum or with other hinges that match the Blum pattern. Mounting holes are 8mm and accept only Blum’s Press-In or Expando dowels or Blum’s Enserta hinge. Chuck a Torx driver bit (supplied) into your drill. Slip the bit into a mating nut on the end of the Forstner bit and start drilling. Then do the same for the two pilot holes. You’ll need to clean out the chips after drilling the holes. This jig has adjustable backset stops, which may be set to seven different positions. It’s also easy to use the clamp. Pivot down the handles, and the jig clamps to the door. This professional-quality jig is a pleasure to use. It sets up quickly and then drills the cup hole and two mounting holes to the correct depths in seconds with little effort. I’d use it even if I had a drill press. You can order the Ecodrill from the Superior Distributing Co. (800-622-4462). The $169 price includes the Forstner bit and two 8mm bits.

Drilling the cup hole and two pilot holes is as easy as one, two, three. One, insert the driver bit in the cap screw on the end of the 35mm Forstner bit and drill the hole; two, move the driver bit to a pilot-hole bit and drill; and three, repeat for the final pilot hole.

This top-of-the line jig drills all of the common hinge patterns. In addition to the 35mm Forstner bit, it comes with a 7⁄64-in.-dia. bit for the mounting holes; 5mm and 8mm bits are sold separately. The bits for the mounting holes can be adjusted to any of eight different positions. And once adjusted, a pair of metal pins ensures that the bits won’t shift out of position. To establish the backset, just turn two short, plastic levers to the exact setting you want. The Fisch jig is the most expensive of the bunch, but it has the hallmarks of a well-built tool, starting with a beefy castaluminum housing that serves as the foundation for all the remaining parts. The Forstner bit cuts cleanly and quickly. Like Blum’s Ecodrill, I’d use this one even if I had a drill press. The jig is available for $219.99 from Fisch Precision Tools (724-663-9072).
Select a backset. Just turn a couple of levers to set the backset to any of eight options.

Movable mounting-hole bits. The jig offers eight different positions for the mounting holes. And once the bits are positioned, a pair of steel pins keeps the bits locked in place.



Photos, this page (top and bottom left): Erika Marks

Shopmade Tenoning Jig
Micro-adjustment feature adds ease and accuracy


he mortise and tenon is one of the most common woodworking joints. So a good tablesaw tenoning jig is a valuable tool for the shop. But topquality, commercially made jigs don’t come cheap. When I was faced with cutting a bunch of tenons, I decided to build a jig that included all of the features found in a top-of-the-line model. The jig has a tall fence to support the

workpiece. And a heavy-duty hold-down keeps the stock securely in place. To minimize tearout, a narrow piece of scrap stock can be temporarily clamped in front of the workpiece. The jig slides smoothly along the table of the saw without side-to-side play. And a threaded rod with a crank allows easy and accurate adjustment of the workpiece relative to the blade. Once I worked out the design and

bought the parts (see Sources on p. 75), I put together the jig in only a few hours. My total cash outlay for everything was about $40, inexpensive compared with a storebought jig with the same features. The jig is made of 3⁄4-in.-thick mediumdensity fiberboard (MDF), a smooth material that tends to stay flat and is reasonably inexpensive. Keep in mind that the jig is sized for my Delta Unisaw. However, it can

Photos: Tom Begnal


With a heavy-duty hold-down, an extra-tall fence and a large, stable base, the tenoning jig provides a good measure of control and safety during a cut. MDF parts (all 3⁄4 in. thick) are smooth and stay flat. Runners made from UHMW plastic slide smoothly.

fit almost any saw simply by adjusting the length of the base as needed. One more point before starting. Most of the parts of this jig are cut on the tablesaw. That means the saw must be cutting accurately. If it isn’t, the jig won’t have the builtin precision that’s needed to make perfect cuts. So, before you get going, make sure the blade and rip fence are parallel to the miter-gauge slot and that the blade is square to the table.


Rip the runners first
When the jig is in use, it’s guided by an ultrahigh molecular weight (UHMW) plastic runner (see Sources) that travels along the saw’s miter-gauge slot and fits in a groove in the jig’s base. Cut the runner for a snug sliding fit in the slot. If the runner doesn’t fit snugly, it can shift as it slides. While you’re at it, cut the two plastic runners that mount to the platform. By the way, any good combination blade will produce a smooth cut in UHMW plastic.

Fence guide block, 4 in. wide by 6 in. high

Cut the MDF parts
With the runners cut, you can start working on the MDF base and platform. Because these two parts have a pair of parallel grooves that need to align when the jig is assembled, cut both parts from an oversized blank—a single piece of MDF, 14 in.

wide by 24 in. long. That way the grooves in both parts can be cut at the same time to ensure alignment. This is also a good time to cut the remaining grooves. The groove on the underside of the base accepts the miter-gauge runner. The groove on the back face of the fence accepts the platform. Now cut the blank into two parts: one 91⁄4 in. long for the platform and one 13 in. long for the base. The connecting block and the support block work together as part of the microadjust system. Both of these parts have a hole bored on one face, with each hole drilled just deep enough to accept a wash-

Fence, 14 in. wide by 9 in. high

Groove for platform, 3 ⁄8 in. deep by 3⁄4 in. wide

er and nut. When the two parts have been assembled, the holes create a pocket that accepts both washers and nuts. I used a router with an edge guide to cut the slot in the platform for the carriage bolt. Before routing, I drilled a 5⁄16-in.-dia. hole to provide a starting point for a 1⁄4-in.-dia. straight bit. The head of the carriage bolt is

Rip the plastic runners. A combination blade makes a smooth cut in UHMW plastic.

Cut some grooves. A dado head plows a pair of parallel grooves in an oversized blank.

Cut the blank in two. Crosscutting the blank provides stock for the base and platform.



Drawing: Jim Richey

Knob, 5 ⁄16-18 thread

Two 3⁄8-in. nuts with washers

Support block, 2 1⁄2 in. wide by 4 in. high Threaded rod, 3 ⁄8-16 by 9 1⁄2 in.

Connecting block, 2 1⁄2 in. wide by 3 1⁄4 in. high

Crank Threaded insert, 3⁄8-16 internal thread

3 1⁄4 in. Fence bracket, 5 3⁄4 in. long by 5 in. high

4 1⁄4 in.

Fence platform, 14 in. wide by 9 1⁄4 in. long Slot for carriage bolt, 3 ⁄8 in. wide by 2 3⁄4 in. long


Crank block, 2 1⁄2 in. wide by 4 3⁄4 in. high

3 in. Crank-block support, 2 1⁄2 in. long by 2 1⁄2 in. high Base, 14 in. wide by 13 in. long Groove for runners, ⁄8 in. deep by 3⁄4 in. wide

Plastic platform runners, 3 ⁄4 in. square by 9 in. long


REID TOOL (800) 253-0421 Crank (part No. JCL-1160) Knob (part No. DK-167) Plastic miter-gauge runner, 3 ⁄4 in. square by 14 in. long Carriage bolt, 5 ⁄16-18 by 1 1⁄2 in. ROCKLER (800) 279-4441 3-in. hold-down and UHMW plastic

recessed in a counterbore in the underside of the base. Now add the threaded insert to the crank block. Drill a 1⁄2-in.-dia. hole, lubricate the outside threads of the insert with wax and screw it in place.

Assemble and finish
At this point, all of the MDF parts can be screwed together. Keep in mind, though,

that MDF tends to split, especially when screwing into an edge. So it’s important to drill pilot holes before adding screws. After that, cut the three runners to final length. Then drill, countersink and screw each runner in place. The micro-adjust system comes next. Cut the threaded rod to length. Then add the crank, nuts and washers. To complete the

system, it’s just a matter of screwing the connecting block to the support block. To add moisture protection to the jig, it’s a good idea to apply a couple of coats of polyurethane to the MDF parts. Mounting the hold-down completes the jig.

Brad Schilling enjoys working wood in Fairview Heights, Ill.


Five Smart Router Jigs
Get more from your router with this set of easy-to-make accessories
All pieces of the jig are made of 1 ⁄2-in.-thick plywood.
Pin Crosspiece, 5 in. wide by 12 in. long


ew woodworkers enjoy the luxury of a spacious shop, and I’m no exception. Lacking the space for many large machines, I rely on my router when building furniture. However, used on its own, the router is limited in its abilities. More often than not, I use it in conjunction with various shopmade jigs that increase its ability to quickly and accurately cut circles, make edge profiles, cut dadoes, trim edge-banding, and even substitute for a lathe. The five jigs illustrated here are all made from cheap and stable plywood or mediumdensity fiberboard (MDF) and require only a few pieces of hardware, available through Lee Valley (; 800-871-8158) or Rockler (; 800-279-4441). These router jigs are as easy to use as they are to make.
Yeung Chan builds custom furniture in Millbrae, Calif.

Guides, 21 ⁄2 in. wide by 5 in. long


Two mounting holes let you work around breaks in slot.


Cutout, 2 in. dia. Machine screw

A 13⁄4-in. break in the slot maintains the jig’s strength.



Photos: Mark Schofield

Cut perfect circles
his jig can be used to rout a circle with a maximum diameter of 72 in., but the design can be modified for other diameters. First, drill a 1⁄4-in.dia. hole, 1⁄4 in. deep, in the middle of the workpiece. If you don’t want the hole to show, work on the underside. Next, mark a point on the desired edge of the circle, place the sled over the base, and fit the jig’s pin in the center hole. Move the base in or out until the bit is on the mark, then lock the sled. Turn on the router and plunge down to start the initial cut, which should be less than 1 ⁄8 in. deep, just enough to define the circle. Use a jigsaw to cut away the outside pieces, leaving about 1 ⁄8 in. outside the final size of the circle. This method enables you to support the corners as they are cut off so that they won’t damage the finished workpiece. Once the bulk of the waste has been removed, the router has to make only a light final cut. If you’re working with solid wood, pay tion to the grain’s orientation and Visit our Web site to see the author the bit’s rotation. Climb-cut when demonstrate his circle-cutting jig. necessary to avoid tearout.

Set the size of the circle. With the pin registered in the center of the workpiece, move the jig’s base until the inside edge of the router bit is aligned with the desired outside edge of the circle.
Base, 7 in. wide by 41 in. long Slot, 1 ⁄2 in. wide Slots, 1 ⁄4 in. wide by 9 1 ⁄4 in. long with a 1 ⁄2-in.-wide by 3⁄16-in.-deep groove in the bottom (see detail below)

Make a shallow cut to define the circle. The initial cut made with the router should be only about 1⁄8 in. deep.

Remove the waste. Following the track left by the router, saw away the waste.

Pin holder, two pieces each 2 in. wide by 5 in. long Pin, 1 ⁄4 in. dia. by at least 23⁄4 in. long

Hardwood runner, 1 ⁄2 in. square by 5 in. long, rides in slot in base.

Locking screw Washer

Head of machine bolt is flattened on two sides to fit in the groove.



The final cut. The router now has to remove only a small amount of material, creating less dust and leaving a clean cut.
M AY / J U N E 2 0 0 5

Drawings: John Hartman


Trim or cut large panels
t is a difficult job to cut a large panel on a tablesaw that’s not equipped with a sliding table. So I made a simple jig that can be used to cut out a section from a full sheet of plywood or mediumdensity fiberboard (MDF) or to clean up a rough cut made by a jigsaw or a circular saw. Once you’ve assembled the jig, run the router along the straight edge of the fence to create a matching straight edge on the base. To use the jig, clamp it at both ends of the workpiece with the edge of the jig aligned with the desired cut. As the router rides along the jig, it leaves a perfectly straight, clean cut. S TRAIGHT-EDGE JIG
Always use the same-diameter router bit with this jig. A smaller bit will cut wide of the jig’s edge, while a larger bit will eat into the jig.

Fence, 1 ⁄ 2 in. thick by 21 ⁄2 in. wide by 50 in. long

Straighten edges. Rough-cut the panel, then clean up the cut with this straight-edge jig.

Before use, trim the base parallel with the fence.

Base, 1 ⁄4 in. thick by 50 in. long

Rabbet, ⁄ in. deep by 1 ⁄8 in. wide, collects sawdust.

Cut dadoes at any angle
reach for this jig when I have to cut multiple parallel dadoes on a panel. Most of the time these grooves are perpendicular to the short fence of the jig, but they can be cut at different angles. Like the straight-edge jig (above), this one needs to be clamped at both ends during use. As long as you use the same size bit each time, and the same angle, the entry cut on the jig’s short fence will show the location of the dado. Use an up-cut spiral bit, which will prevent chips from jamming in the dado. For deep dadoes, make several passes.

Align the notch cut by the router in the short fence with the desired dado location.
Wing nut Washer Long fence, 1 ⁄4 in. thick by 3 1 ⁄2 in. wide by up to 54 in. long

Variable-angle jig. Although dadoes usually are perpendicular to the long edges of a panel, this jig can make cuts at other angles.

Entry-cut notch

#1 ⁄4-20 machine screw, 11 ⁄2 in. long

Short fence, 1 ⁄4 in. thick by 2 1 ⁄2 in. wide by 15 in. long

Cut clean and accurate dadoes. Clamp the dado jig at both ends and make the cut in two or three passes.



Trim edge-banding quickly and cleanly
ne of the hardest parts of using solid wood to edge plywood or laminate panels is trimming the edge-banding flush with the plywood. If you use a plane, you risk cutting through the thin plywood veneer, and sanding can leave cross-grain scratches on the plywood. This router jig enables you to trim the banding flush, quickly and flawlessly. Mount the router on the jig, and set the depth of the bit so that it just clears the plywood surface. A router with microadjustment comes in handy. Adjust the guide block to align the bit so that the carbide tips extend just a hair over the plywood. Clamp the guide block tight, and you’re ready to go. Pay attention to the router bit’s rotation and the direction you move the router. To avoid tearout, you want the leading edge of the bit to enter the wood first. Known as climb cutting, this method can be dangerous if the bit pulls the router forward uncontrollably. Because the amount of wood being removed is so small, you should be able to control the router easily.

Flush-cut edge-banding. This jig allows you to cleanly cut solid-wood edge-banding flush with the plywood panel.

The router bit should be positioned a hair above the plywood surface. The spacer/ guide block is clamped to the jig to steer the router along the edging.

Top and bottom, ⁄ in. thick by 7 ⁄ in. wide by 17 in. long, overlap by 11 in.
12 12

Trimming jig

Cutout, 2 in. dia.

Guide block

Plywood panel Edge-banding

Guide block, 1 ⁄4 in. thick by 21 ⁄2 in. wide by 7 1 ⁄2 in. long, with spacer, 1 in. thick by 11 ⁄2 in. wide by 7 1 ⁄2 in. long

M AY / J U N E 2 0 0 5


Make turnings with a router
his jig allows you to “turn” round columns and posts using a router. To use the jig, first drill a 5 ⁄16-in.-dia. hole, 11 ⁄2 in. deep, in each end of the workpiece, then insert a steel rod to hold the workpiece inside the jig. Lock a drill stop on each end of the rod where it enters the jig to prevent the workpiece from shifting during the turning. Clamp two wood guide pieces to the edges of the router subbase to restrict the router’s side-to-side movement. Turn on the router, slowly plunge down, and move the router halfway up and down the jig as you slowly rotate the workpiece. As you increase the depth of cut, you’ll create a cylinder. Then repeat the process on the other half of the workpiece. Throughout the process, make small cuts for a better finish and a safer operation. You can adapt this jig to create different turnings. Offset the hole at one end of the jig to make tapered turnings, or clamp blocks to the long sides of the jig to produce stopped turnings. If you design the jig with gently curving sides, the workpiece will become football shaped as it is turned. TURN I N G J I G
The dimensions of this jig will vary based on the size of the blank to be turned. The four sides of the jig can be screwed together or clamped for greater flexibility. Steel rods passing through each end of the jig hold the blank.


Router-cut turnings. By guiding the router back and forth while turning the workpiece, a square blank gradually becomes a cylinder.

Guide pieces, clamped to subbase Router subbase Workpiece

Steel rod, 5⁄16 in. dia.

Drill stop is tightened with hex key.

Tapered turnings. Lower the hole at one end of the jig to taper the turned workpiece.


The dimensions of the ends and sides will vary according to the diameter and length of the turning.

Stopped turnings. Clamp blocks to the side of the jig to leave a square section on the turning.



Make precise tapers, circles, wedges, and curves safely and easily

Bandsaw Jigs

Five Essential


he wall next to my bandsaw is festooned with jigs that expand the versatility of the basic machine. Though simple to build, each jig quickly and safely delivers the precise results I depend on. This article presents five of my favorites. Build these jigs from Baltic-birch plywood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF), and adjust dimensions to fit your bandsaw. For the jigs to work correctly, the bandsaw’s blade must cut parallel to the fence. To achieve this, I check that the bandsaw’s tires are in good shape (no grooves or ridges), then set the fence parallel to the miter-gauge slots. Next, I adjust the angle of the upper wheel. If the blade’s centerline aligns with the centerline of the upper wheel, it will cut parallel to the fence. Check by ripping some scrap. You’ll know it’s right when the back of the blade is centered in its kerf. For more on bandsaw setup, see FWW #173, pp. 66-71.
Michael Fortune designs and builds furniture in Lakefield, Ont., Canada.



Photos: Marcia Ryan; drawings: Jim Richey

Rip tapers at any angle
lot of woodworkers cut tapers on a tablesaw, but I think it’s safer and just as fast on the bandsaw. And unlike a tablesaw, a bandsaw allows for stopped tapered cuts. My adjustable jig slides between the bandsaw’s fence and a plywood guide, which is attached to the table and prevents the jig from wandering into the blade. Two similar jigs, one 24 in. long and one 48 in. long, accommodate different-sized workpieces. Toggle clamps can be used to hold any length of workpiece securely. When tapering four sides of, say, a table leg, always rotate the stock so that the newly tapered side faces up. This way, for the first two cuts, the workpiece’s flat sides bear on the jig and its fence. Rotating the leg for the third cut places a taper against the fence, but an offcut between the two will keep the leg straight. For the fourth cut, an offcut at the fence and another placed between the leg and the bed of the jig will support the leg. The offcuts are taped into position slightly forward of the stop to accommodate the wood lost to the bandsaw kerf.

Threaded knob


Adjustable stop, ⁄ in. thick by 1 in. wide by 5 in. long
14 12


One jig makes tapers in a range of lengths and angles.

⁄ -20 hanger bolt, 2 ⁄ in. long Adjustable fence, 3⁄4 in. thick by 3 in. wide by 25 in. long Slot, centered, ⁄ in. wide by 1 3⁄8 in. long


Tenon, 1 ⁄4 in. thick by 1 ⁄4 in. deep, notched for hanger bolt

Pivot hole

Cutout for blade

Adhesive-backed sandpaper Plywood base, 3⁄4 in. thick by 8 in. wide by 24 in. long Slot, 1 ⁄4 in. wide by 6 1 ⁄4 in. long, recessed on the underside for carriage bolt

Plywood guide, 3⁄4 in. thick by 9 in. wide by 13 in. long Cutout for tabletop adjuster Rabbet, to fit table edge Clamping block, 11 ⁄2 in. thick by 1 1 ⁄2 in. wide by 12 in. long
1 ⁄4-20 carriage bolt, 11 ⁄2 in. long

Jig setup. Adjust the rip fence so that the jig is almost touching the blade. Then clamp down the plywood guide, which should just allow the jig to slide.

Locate the taper’s end. Marks on the stock align with the edge of the jig, which is the cut line. After fixing the outfeed knob, adjust the stop to clear the blade.

Locate the taper’s start. Align the beginning of the taper with the edge of the jig and tighten the infeed knob.



Make circles of all sizes
his is a useful jig that’s also fun. The workpiece turns on the jig’s pivot point and cuts circles and arcs with a wide range of radii. I thread the jig with a 1⁄4-20 tap, so it will accommodate any size pivot point I care to grind from a bolt. They can range from the full 1⁄4-in. diameter for heavier pieces, to a needle point for delicate work. To avoid a center mark on the stock, attach a sacrificial surface to the underside of the workpiece with double-sided tape. The pivot point is in a sliding arm dovetailed into the body of the jig. This arm can be moved gently forward while you rotate the stock into the blade, initially creating a spiral-shaped cut. A stop block clamped to the outboard end of the arm hits the body of the jig when you reach the correct radius, and only then does the blade begin to cut in a circle. Make the track and sliding arm of a hard and stable wood. The sliding arm and track are dovetailed so that the arm does not tip out of the track, and the bearing surfaces are waxed. The track could be dovetailed directly into the body of the jig, but it is easier and will remain more accurate if a strip of hardwood is dovetailed, then set into a dado. Keep in mind: The bandsaw blade must be narrow enough to cut the desired radius, and the cutting edge of the teeth must align with the centerline of the pivot point on the sliding arm. If the pivot is forward or back of the teeth, the blade will not cut freely and the circle will not be true.


The sliding pivot arm on this jig allows cutting circles of any diameter your shop and your back can handle.

Sharp pivot point

Hardwood sliding arm, 1 ⁄4 in. thick by 1 1 ⁄8 in. wide by 29 in. long

Arm slides into dovetailed track. Hardwood track, 3⁄8 in. thick by 1 3⁄4 in. wide by 22 in. long, glued to plywood base Dado, 13⁄4 in. wide by 1 ⁄4 in. deep

Stop block with adhesive-backed sandpaper is clamped to sliding arm.

Plywood base, 3⁄8 in. thick by 12 in. wide by 20 in. long

Interchangeable pivot points. Pivots can be as small as a sharp point, or larger for heavier workpieces.

Clamping block, 15⁄8 in. thick by 1 5⁄8 in. wide by 12 in. long Cutout for tabletop adjuster

Rabbet, to fit table edge

Attach the stop. After measuring the distance from the pivot point to the blade (circle radius), clamp the stop on the underside of the arm at the end of the guide track (above left).

Spiral into the circle. With the saw running, gently push the arm forward while rotating the stock into the blade (above right). Once the stop reaches the end of the guide track, the blade starts to cut the actual circle (right).



Cut small wedges safely
his simple and safe jig allows the cutting of identical wedges. The jig rides against the fence, which is set so that the blade just misses the jig. Notches the size and shape of the wedges are cut in the jig, and they hold the stock as it’s cut. As a new size of wedge is needed, I add a new notch to the jig. For repeat projects, each notch is labeled with the project name and the dimensions of the wedge. I start with a piece of stock that’s crosscut to the length of the wedge, and flip the blank over with every cut. The MDF base serves as a zeroclearance throat plate that stops the wedges from binding in the bandsaw’s more open throat plate. When the stock gets too small to handle safely, I switch to a new piece or use a push stick.


Sliding on an MDF base and guided by the saw’s fence, this jig makes quick work of wedges.

Wooden knob

Kerf for bandsaw blade

Plywood jig, 1 ⁄4 in. thick by 41 ⁄4 in. wide by 21 in. long

MDF base, 1 ⁄4 in. thick

Countersunk screw

Adhesive-backed tape secures base to table.

The Wedge-o-matic. Place the long-grain end of the stock against the long edge of the notch. Flip the stock forward with each pass.

Cut notches on the jig freehand. Draw the wedge on the jig, by tracing it or by determining its angle or its length and width. Clearly mark these measurements on the jig.

Small wedges require a zero-clearance throat plate. Attach a piece of 1⁄4-in. MDF on the table with double-sided tape to prevent pieces from getting trapped in the throat plate.

Safely reproduce curved shapes
inger jigs are used to guide carefully made patterns on the bandsaw. The finger spaces the pattern just slightly away from the bandsaw blade, leaving a small amount of material to be worked by hand, or as I frequently do, shaped by a router outfitted with a flushtrimming bit. The pattern works with both the bandsaw and the router. This is a great technique for making multiples of curved chair parts such as rails or stretchers. The blade is positioned within the notch at the end of the finger. The distance the finger protrudes past the blade determines the amount of wood overhanging the edge of the pattern when the cut is complete. The ends of the finger should be curved slightly tighter than any curve on the pattern. Simple, shallow curves can be bandsawn by clamping the finger jig directly to the table, and affixing the stock above the pattern (4). For complex curves, it is better to position the pattern and the finger jig above the stock so that the contact between the finger and pattern is visible (5). It’s a little trickier to secure the stock to the pattern in this case. If you don’t mind the holes, screws through the face of the stock can be used. If holes are a problem, hold the stock to the pattern with wedges or dowels, as shown on the facing page.


A notched plywood finger clamps to the table to guide a pattern, which has the workpiece clamped onto it.

Adhesive-backed sandpaper


MDF base, ⁄ in. thick

Hardwood strip, ⁄ in. thick by 2 1 ⁄4 in. wide by 23 7⁄8 in. long

Slot, 1 ⁄4 in. wide by 1 in. long
1 ⁄4-20 hanger bolt, 21 ⁄2 in. long

Plywood finger, 1 ⁄2 in. thick by 1 3⁄4 in. wide by 9 3⁄4 in. long

Hardwood clamping block, 11 ⁄4 in. thick by 1 1 ⁄2 in. wide by 13 1 ⁄4 in. long

Dado, 13⁄4 in. wide by 1 ⁄4 in. deep

Rabbet, to fit table edge

The notched finger jig surrounds the blade. For simple curves, the finger rests on the table, and a short bolt holds it in the dado of the clamping block.




Raising the guide finger and the pattern makes complex curves easier to cut.

⁄ -in. dowel

1-in. dowel

Plywood pattern, 1 ⁄2 in. thick, rides against the finger.

Slot, 1 ⁄4 in. wide by 3 in. long

Wooden knob
1 ⁄4-20 hanger bolt, 21 ⁄2 in. long

Plywood finger, 1 ⁄ 2 in. thick by 21 ⁄2 in. wide by 11 in. long

Raise the finger to cut complex curves. Adding a block to raise the finger jig, and placing the pattern atop the workpiece, makes it easier to keep the pattern on track.

Hardwood block, stock thickness by 1 3⁄4 in. wide by 6 in. long Clamping block, 11 ⁄4 in. thick by 11 ⁄2 in. wide by 13 1 ⁄4 in. long Dado, 13⁄4 in. wide by 1 ⁄4 in. deep

Blocks (of stock thickness) and dowels hold work.

Rabbet, to fit table edge

Quickly clean up the bandsawn edges. A pattern-routing bit rides along the pattern, trimming the workpiece to its final shape.

Toggle clamps secure the work. The pattern rides along the finger jig to guide the cut. The notch in the finger jig accommodates the blade and protects the pattern from damage. The finished cut overhangs the pattern (above). The distance from the end of the finger to the teeth determines the width of the overhang.


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