Table Saw Jig

Have you ever tried to rip material on a table saw and had it continually pull away from the guide? Well, I have a jig just for you. Watch the video below to learn more.

Video Transcript:

Welcome back to the conclusion of jig week at DIYProjectBlog.com. Today I am going to show you one final jig that will help when ripping materials on the table saw. So what is the problem? Well, typically the material wants to pull away from the guide as you feed it into the saw, and sometimes the material even wants to kick back towards you. Not only does this cause a potential safety hazard, but it also makes for a very unclean and crooked cut. So how do you solve this? You got it, with a jig. For this jig you need a couple pieces of scrap wood. The first is just a block of wood (I used the end of a 2×4), and the second is a thin piece of wood that will bend (I used 1/4″ MDF/Hardwood that was approximately 1″x15″). Fasten them together with a couple of nails, and you have your jig. So how do you use it? Well, that is what I will show you next.

To use the jig, you first want to clamp it to the table saw as shown. You want to line up the “spring” end just before the saw blade (to avoid pinching the wood as it cuts), and about 1/2″ to an 1″ in from the edge of the wood you are cutting. To check if your jig is placed correctly, go ahead and slide your material into the saw and make sure you can push it through the jig. You’ll notice that you can’t pull the wood back out, which is due to the tension caused by the jig (this is what prevents it from kicking back and holds it snug against the guide). So now lets see how it works.

As you can hopefully see, the wood came out with a nice straight and clean cut. The best part is that this jig is so simple to setup, that you can use it anytime you have to rip material.

Well, that concludes “Jig Week” here at DIYProjectBlog. I hope I have shown you some valuable jigs that you can take home to your shop, helping to make your next DIY project more efficient. Please feel free to leave your comments or questions, and I hope that you will continue to follow the DIYProjectBlog as I continue to write about DIY tips, tools, and projects. Thank you!

 

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8′ Cutting Guide

Have you ever brought home that full sheet of plywood and wondered how you were going to cut it straight? Well, I have a very simple to make jig that will solve your problem. Take a look at the video below for more information.

Video Transcript:

Welcome back! Today, I will be showing you how to make an 8′ cutting guide that will allow you to cut full sheet good materials easily. This guide will cost you roughly $30 to make, but I venture to say it will be one of the most beneficial tools you’ll have in your shop, I know it has been for us. So what do you need to get started? First thing, is you need an at least 8′ long straight edge. I am using a 5/8″ preprimed MDF molding strip at 5 1/2″ wide. I also chose to buy a 10′ length instead of an 8′ length, that way I can make the guiding guide slightly longer than 8′ and I can use the excess to make a short version of the guide at a later date (this also comes in handy). Next you’ll need some form of hardboard. After sourcing different options, I found that using standard white board material was actually the least expensive option, and when you are done making your guide, you can mount the extra on your shop wall as a shop white board. Lastly, you’ll need some wood glue and some 5/8″ finishing nails or brads if you have a nail gun. So lets get started.

Start out by laying out your materials. If you are using a whiteboard, make sure that the whiteboard surface is face up. Next, if you are using a molding strip with rounded corners, make sure they are face down. At this point you want to measure the distance from the saw blade to the outside of your saw. I am using a SkilSaw which measures at 4″. Add an extra inch, and make a reference line in from the edge (5″ in my case) at the top and bottom of the white board. Now you can go ahead and glue to the straight edge. Make sure you stay away from the edges and that you go in a wave like pattern. Now we are going to lift the whiteboard on top of the straight edge, using our reference line to position it. Ahead of time, I marked up a paint stick with reference lines, so I know where the board underneath lines up for nailing. Nail your cutting guide together (put in a few to hold it in position and then fill in). I’ll go ahead and finish putting in the nails, then we’re going to let the guide sit for a little bit while the glue dries.

Now that the glue has had a chance to set up a bit, we flipped the guide over and clamped it down to our table. I’m going to cut off this one side so it matches the SkilSaw. Make sure you press down and in towards the guide so you get a nice clean cut. I’ll cut the other side with the SkilSaw as well, but feel free to use the other side for another tool, such as a router.

So now we have our cutting guide, but let me give you a few tips on how to use it. When you go to mark you material for cutting, mark each end of your material and shift the cutting guide to it “splits” the line, making sure you clamp the guide on the side of the material you wish to keep. When you go to cut, make sure you hold the saw vertical and that you push in towards the guide. This will help to prevent nicking of the guide. This may eventually happen, but at least it is a cheap guide to replace.

I hope this was helpful, and stay tuned for tomorrow’s jig here at DIYProjectBlog.com. Have a great day!

 

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Chop Saw Jig

Have you ever needed to cut 4 pieces of wood on the chop saw that were exactly the same length? How about 10 or 20 pieces? Well, watch the video below to see a simple jig that will allow you to make repeatable and accurate cuts on the chop saw.

Video Transcript:

Welcome back to Jig Week here at DIYProjectBlog.com. Today I am going to show you how to set up a jig that will allow you to make consistent cuts on the chop saw.

To get started find a scrap 2×4 that is fairly straight. Make sure it is long enough to support the materials you are cutting and block up the ends if it significantly overhangs the saw. Go ahead and clamp the 2×4 onto the chop saw, and make a marker cut as a reference line of where the saw blade is cutting. Now, measure your cut out from this line, mark it, and use a Swanson square to extend the line on the 2×4. Now find a scrap block of wood, and make sure the end is square (you can also cut a piece off of your 2×4 before you start). Clamp the block down on your line, and you have a jig.

Before using the jig, test your cut length on a scrap piece of wood, especially if you need a very accurate cut, or if you are using expensive materials. To make a cut, square up your wood with the saw and push it against the block you just put in place.

I hope this is a jig that you can take back and use in your home improvement shop. Come back and check out some more jigs later in the week. Thanks!

 

Jig Week Series:

Introduction to Jigs

Jigs are extremely useful for many DIY projects, and since I love jigs so much, I have dedicated an entire week to them – “Jig Week”. Below is an introductory video that explains what a jig is and why you should consider using some in your DIY home improvement shop.

Video Transcript:

Welcome to Jig Week here at DIYProjectBlog.com. This week is all about jigs.

What is a jig? Jigs are typically used in manufacturing to help make processes more efficient, accurate, repeatable, easier, and sometimes safer. Why should you use them in your home shop? Because they will save you time, money, and headaches.

Let me give an example. We recently built a floor to ceiling book shelf in our home office. To do this we needed to cut 20 bookshelves that were exactly the same. We could have sat there and measured each shelf out to cut it, but that would have been pretty repetitive and wasted a lot of time. So we used some scrap wood and took 5-10 minutes to make a jig. The jig allowed us to cut all 20 shelves very quickly and it also ensured that our shelves were the same dimensions.

This week I have 3 exciting jigs to show you. The first is a jig for the chop saw that will let you make accurate and repetitive cuts. The second is an 8′ cutting guide that can be used to cut full sheet goods. Lastly I will show how to set up a jig that helps you while ripping material on the table saw.

I hope you can check out these jigs this week, and I hope that they help to improve the efficiency of your next DIY project. Thank you!

 

Jig Week Series:

Carry Your Camera

Thanks to Smart Phones, many of us have a high resolution camera in our pocket at all times. Yes this is great when your child does something cute, but why not really put this tool to use? Below I will go into some of the not so obvious benefits of always having a camera with you, and how it can help with your DIY projects.

 

Inspiration

How many times have you been out somewhere and thought “that is so cool” or “I would love to have that”? Have you ever taken pictures of those inspirations? Whether you are in a store, at the park, walking the dog, or scanning through a magazine at the doctor’s office, our world is filled with ideas. Don’t be shy, don’t ask for permission, just take your phone or pocket camera out and snap a picture so you can reference the inspiration later.  It doesn’t have to just be about home improvement or design either. My mom is always taking pictures of recipes from waiting room magazines, and many of them have been well worth it.

I fell in love with this bed at RC Willey one day, but the price tag was a little too large. Someday I plan to use this inspiration photo to build a similar style bed for my daughter.

Product Information

Whenever I go shopping, I am always taking pictures of product descriptions and prices. Many of the small items from the hardware stores are not online, making it really hard to plan your bill of material without taking a trip to the store. At the same time, you don’t want to just buy everything from the store when you are still in a design process. Your camera bridges this gap! Whenever I am looking at a product in the store, I make sure to capture the following information with my camera so I can go home to research and plan further:

  • Price
  • Pictures of the item itself
  • Item #, Model #, Description
  • Dimensions not listed in the description

When shopping for a tool box, we took pictures of signage and dimensions for several different toolboxes. Afterwards, we searched by item number to look up customer reviews, and verified the measurements we took with what we needed.

Home Information

There is also information from home that you sometimes need in sourcing items at the store. If you need another bag of connectors and don’t want to rely on your memory to match the size, why not take a picture of the bag you already have so you can just match it to the picture in the store? You also may need dimensions, so take a picture of the dimension using a tape measure in your picture. By doing this, you won’t mistake where a measurement was taken, because you can see the surroundings in the picture.

Google Shopper

Google Shopper takes your Smart Phone camera to the next level, allowing you to view detailed product information while still in the store. With this application, you can scan the barcode of the item and easily see product reviews and pricing information from other stores. I have used this application on several occasions, especially when buying things I know nothing about. One instance was when I needed to buy a humidifier for my daughter’s room. I didn’t know the first thing about humidifiers, but I had a 20% coupon that was expiring that day, and I was determined to walk out of the store with a good humidifier and my 20% off. Using Google Shopper, I scanned several barcodes and quickly narrowed my choices. After reading multiple product reviews, I bought a great humidifier that I have been very happy with. Many stores also price match, so this is a good way to get a competitor’s price without leaving your current location.

 

I hope this blog has given you reason to carry a camera with you at all times. If you have other tips feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

3D Modeling

3D modeling can be very useful when trying to visualize certain DIY projects. There are many programs out there, but most come with a hefty price tag. Unless you do this for a living or plan to use the program over and over again, it would probably be hard to justify the cost. As I was designing the Chicken Coop for my daughter’s daycare, I was really wishing I had a 3D modeling tool to better convey my design. Then it hit me: Google has a free 3D modeling tool called SketchUp. I had seen the program in passing a while back, but really had no use for it at the time. Below is some information on the tool, and some tips on getting started.

 

Getting Started

Once you have downloaded and installed the software from Google, you are ready to start the learning process. Google offers several tutorial videos on their website, and they even have certified courses around the world to teach this program. The video tutorials are a great place to start, and are probably all you will need. I strongly suggest that you spend some time going through them before getting started, because you will learn several tricks that make the program very user friendly. I looked past the tutorials when I started and jumped right in, which resulted in frustrations and wasted time, so learn from me and watch the tutorials. Below is the first tutorial, which shows how to do some very basic stuff.

 

Texturing

You can fill surfaces of your model with different textures such as brick, gravel, or fencing.This can really help your model come to life, and the free version of SketchUp comes with several common textures. You can also create your own texture by uploading a texture picture.

Geo-Modeling

Another cool feature of SketchUp is the ability to add your models to GoogleEarth and GoogleMaps. I have yet to do this, but here is a link with more information on the process. Below are some reasons Google gives for why you would want to do this (I just think it is cool).

If you haven’t tried SketchUp yet, I encourage you to play around with it. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

Plumb Bob

The plumb bob is such a simple yet powerful tool. It is pretty much a pointed weight that you attach to a lightweight string. It is a very helpful tool to have around the shop, and you can buy one for around $5. In this blog I will explain how to set up a plumb bob with kite string and explain some common and uncommon uses for it.

Plumb Bob

Concept

The plumb bob is fairly heavy, and the kite string has virtually no mass. By hanging the plumb bob from a kite string, you end up with a true vertical line from the earth’s core since gravity is essentially the only force being applied to the device. The bottom of the plumb bob is considered “plumb” to the kite string, which is where the tool gets its name.

Gravity Pulling Plumb Bob

Setup

Unscrew the top of the plumb bob and thread your kite string through the hole. Double knot the kite string, and screw the top back on.

Setting up the Plumb Bob

Finding a “Plumb” Point

The traditional use for the plumb bob is to find a point that is directly below another point, also known as “plumb”. This is useful in construction, and it is believed that the Egyptians used plumb bobs to construct the pyramids (according to Wikipedia). To get a precise reading, the top of the kite string must be fixed and not held. The plumb bob will initially spin after being released, and when it fully stops it will be “plumb” to your fixed point.

Digging a post hole

When digging a post hole it is important that your hole stay straight and reach the appropriate depth; using the plumb-bob is an easy way to check this. When building our golf net we had to dig a total of 9 post holes that were 12”x10” and 3’ deep. To check each hole quickly, we took two paint sticks matching the two widths of our hole and crossed them at their centers. We then attached the plumb bob to the center of our crossed sticks and adjusted the positioning so the bottom of the plumb bob to the paint sticks was 3’. To check our holes, we hung the plumb bob in the hole until it barely touched bottom. If the plumb bob hit bottom before the paint sticks were level with the ground, the hole was not deep enough yet. This technique also made it very easy to site if our hole was starting to favor one side or the other as it was being dug. Since the sticks were the dimensions of our hole, we could also verify that our hole was the proper width all the way down.

Using a Plumb Bob for digging post holes

Measuring Distance Down

When you need to know the distance from a particular point straight down, the plumb bob is the way to go. This was necessary so we could precut the golf net posts before placing them in the holes (see The Level for further details on this technique). Basically we had a level point established, and we needed to measure the distance from that level point to the bottom of each hole (not the same as hole depth since the ground is no longer the reference). To do this, take your plumb bob and hang it into your hole until it just barely touches the bottom. Mark the point where your plumb bob kite string crosses your level point with your finger, remove the plumb bob from the hole, and measure the distance from the bottom to where your finger is. Note that there is tension on the string from the plum bob hanging, so keep that tension while measuring to get the most accurate results.

Measuring Distance from a Level Line

I hope this blog has inspired you to buy your very first plumb bob! Feel free to leave your comments or questions.