10 Dirt-Simple Woodworking Jigs You Need

Woodworking jigs ensure that cuts are straight, holes are plumb and parts are square—among many other things. And jigs are worth the time it takes to make them because you’ll use them over and over again for years.

Drill Press Table

Many drill press tables are too small for woodworking because they were designed for metalworking. Also, standard drill press tables don’t have a fence or an insert to back up holes drilled all the way through a piece of wood. This jig solves these problems!

Make the table from three layers of 1/2-in. medium-density fiberboard glued together. It’s fastened to the machine’s table from underneath with four lag screws. The table’s top layer is composed of three pieces. The outer pieces are glued to the table, while the center piece—the insert—is loose. The insert is 1/8 in. narrower than the gap between the two outer pieces. Install three flat-head screws in the side of the insert and adjusted them so the insert fits snug in the gap.

When you need a fresh surface to drill into, slide the insert in or out, flip it around or flip it over. Also, make a few extra inserts so you can toss one away when it starts looking like Swiss cheese. The fence is just a plain board clamped to the table.

Jig for Routing Dadoes

When building a cabinet, dadoes are often used to ensure that shelves and partitions are spaced correctly. To make a strong joint, the width of the dadoes must exactly match the thickness of the plywood. That can be a challenge because few pieces of plywood are precisely 3/4 in. thick. They’re usually 1/32 in. or so less than the “nominal” thickness.

This jig will rout perfect-fitting dadoes for any piece of 3/4-in. plywood regardless of its actual thickness. Use a special top-bearing trim router bit with the jig. The bit is 1/2 in. wide, 1/2 in. long and has a bearing mounted above the cutter. The bearing is flush with the bit’s cutting edges.

This routing jig has two long, parallel guides made from 1/2-in. MDF. When you rout a dado, ride the bearing along one guide, then make a second, return pass and ride the bearing along the second guide. This way, the space between the guides determines the width of the dado. Setting up the guides is easy. One guide is fixed to the jig’s 3/4-in. cross members; the other is loose and adjustable. Take two small pieces of the plywood and place them against the fixed guide. Then slide the adjustable guide against the pieces and clamp the guide to the cross members. Done!

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