What is a Woodworking Jig?

Different types of simple woodworking jigs.

When engaging in repetitive cutting or drilling tasks, you need to maintain the accuracy and repeatability of your cuts and drills. There is no other tool. However, that can help you achieve such accuracy than the woodworking jig. The woodworking jig is a custom-made type of device that you can use to control the motion and location of tools. Its paramount purpose is to provide you with accuracy, repeatability, and interchangeability when cutting or drilling.

For example, you need precision to measure the cut line and control the saw’s blade when cutting wood. So, you need a guide that will help you control the motion of the saw, and such a guiding tool is called a jig. You can buy prefabricated jigs made of metal, wood, or plastic, but you can also make your own woodworking jigs.

Understanding the Woodworking Jigs

The term jig is an umbrella term for tools you can use to guide different devices. You will often find jigs of various shapes, sizes, and functions in the woodworking shop. Jigs also vary depending on how you use them and the tool you use them with. Thus, a jig used for guiding the saw will differ significantly from the jigs used to guide the drill. 

You will find woodworking jigs that you can use to keep the saw’s blade straight while it rips through the wood. You will also find jigs that stop the saw at a certain point from moving forward, allowing you to cut angles with precision.

You will position the jig designed for making a precise drill lying on top of the wood piece you want to cut. You can predrill holes, for example, on these jigs to show where you would drill. However, when you are working on wood that you need to cut with uniformity, you can use a jig that snugly fits over the wood pieces to enable you to make precise cuts. Such a jig will not require you to do measurements to get the right cut repeatedly.

In many instances, you need to use the jigs with vises and clamps to maximize their usage. The clamps and vises keep the jigs firmly fastened to the wood piece to be cut. The movement of the wood piece, of course, will prevent you from getting a precise cut. Hence, you will need those jigs, clamps, and vises to keep the wood from moving.

Advantages of Using a Jig

You will not find it hard to see how advantageous the use of jigs in woodworking. As mentioned above, jigs enable the woodworkers to make precise drilling and cutting. So, if you are desirous of making a career out of woodworking, you need to master the use of jigs. Here is a rundown of the advantages afforded by jigs in woodworking:

Higher Level of Accuracy

Your woodworking projects’ quality hinges on how accurate you can measure and cut the raw wooden materials. Thus, the main advantage of using jigs when cutting and drilling lies in the high level of accuracy they provide woodworkers. Sans this reliability and precision afforded by jigs, you will indeed find it hard to accomplish better results in your woodworking projects.

Measurement

Woodworking jigs ensure that your holes are plumbed correctly, cuts are straight, and parts are squarely measured. You can also use jigs for routing dadoes. Dadoes, for example, are used to ensure that the partitions and shelves of cabinets are spaced well. 

To create a solid joint, dadoes’ width should match the plywood’s thickness which is quite challenging. Yet, with a jig for dadoes, you can rout dadoes for any thickness of plywood. You can also use a top-bearing special trim router bit in conjunction with a jig in such a case.

Another application of jigs that provides you with accurate measurement is when cutting wood in half. When you cut wood in half, you need a system that lets you get clean and precise cuts. You can use a centering jig for such a purpose. It can get you an accurate centerline, sans spending much time in the measuring process.

Improve Safety

You may encounter accidents while using power tools like power saws and drills if you ever lose control of these devices. Since one of the primary functions of jigs is to provide you greater control of the tools you are using, you can lessen the risk of injury by using jigs. 

Jigs let you conveniently make repeated cuts with similar and exact measurements on wood. Moreover, jigs steady your wood piece to prevent it from moving. Such functions will surely make your woodworking tasks easier and safer.


Most Common Jig Categories Used in Woodworking

Jigs were in use long before the onset of the industrial age. Woodworkers of the past have been improvising jigs for their woodworking needs. Moreover, they were in use even before the beginning of the use of power tools. At present, jigs come in various types, and below are the different types of jigs:

1) Jointing Jigs

Jointing jigs are designed to facilitate the making of joints. They make the process more accurate and faster likewise. Jointing jigs come with guides or templates so that you can drill or cut the workpiece with precision without leaving anything to chance. You should have one or two of these jigs in your workshop.

Most jointing jigs come with designs based on the same concept. They all come with a certain kind of templates or guides like harden steel drill templates and clamping methods for the jig into the wood. 

Some jointing jigs are adjustable. These jigs have hole pitches that can be adjusted to allow for different project sizes. Moreover, others have fixed templates, produce strong joints, and facilitate joint projects well.


2) Miter Jigs

If you want to make perfect angled cuts, you should use the miter jigs. The miter jigs are important tools that will let you make angled cuts on the wood. You will need angled cuts when installing crown molding as well as framing. Such tasks require joining wood perfectly together. 

The miter jig, of course, is the best jig for these tasks. With the use of miter jigs, you can create 45-degree cuts in whichever direction. With perfect angled cuts, you can assure yourself that you can have perfectly fitting pieces of wood.


3) Drill Jigs

Drilling using a hand drill is not easy. Your hands or the drill can be wobbly at times, preventing you from making the precise holes on the wood piece. If you want to drill straight and perfect holes, you should use drill jigs. Drill jigs can help you drill straight and can enable you to make centered holes on wood. They also let you control the hole’s depth and the angle of insertion.


4) Straightedge Jig

When cutting or ripping through plywood, you will find it hard to control the saw, especially if you are using the circular saw. The saw will likely drift off the cutting line and cause binding of the blade. It will be best to use a straightedge jig to resolve this type of problem. You can use a scrap-made jig for this task.


Conclusion

We all need guides to do the tasks we want to do perfectly in woodworking. Measurements, of course, should be perfect and precise. Yet, more often, you will engage in repetitive woodworking tasks like making cuts of the same size and drilling holes with the same angles. The use of woodworking jigs can facilitate such repetitive tasks. 

With the help of jigs, for example, you won’t be needing to remeasure every piece of wood that you will cut. Moreover, with jointing jigs, you don’t need to approximate the cutting of angled cuts. Jigs are undoubtedly handy in many instances, and every woodworker will benefit from their use.

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