Over the weekend, I got around to finishing a couple of jigs for my bandsaw; both of which are based on examples you can find in the volumes 4 and 5 (‘The Compleat Bandsaw‘) of Steve Maskery’s Workshop Essentials series.
On the left is an ingenious creation for cutting wooden turn-buttons with speed and ease. Where you would previously need to set up at least two machines for such an operation (one to cut the tenon; the other to snip each button off to length), you can now do it all with this one jig on your bandsaw.
That jig on your right is simply for cross-cutting on the bandsaw. My saw came without a mitre fence of any kind but, in ‘The Compleat Bandsaw‘, Steve Maskery signifies the importance of having a jig like this, which runs against the rip fence and, therefore [provided the fence is set correctly], cuts perfectly at 90°. If the slot for your mitre fence isn’t parallel to the blade’s ‘drift’ then, you’re going to struggle to get accurate cuts, with any bandsaw. I think this jig will prove to be invaluable for cutting haunches on tenons.
One of the minor changes I made to both of Steve’s designs for my own used was to lip the running edges of the MDF with solid wood (in this case, ash). It should be more durable and, if it ever needs truing at all, I find it far more satisfying to plane solid wood, rather than MDF! I’ve also made my own ‘tote’-style handles, similar to what you find at the rear of a hand plane. Instead of cutting them from a 1in thick offcut, I’ve laminated mine from scraps, which helps to avoid any short-grain issues – this is my preferred way of making these handles for jigs and the like.
This is screwed and glued to an MDF block, which in turn can be screwed to the jig in any position. I also find it helps to angle the handle inwards toward the fence. After a bit of shaping on my sanders, I used the router table with a ½in-radius cutter to round-over the edges:
Of course, it’s not safe to perform an operation like this unless you can guarantee that your fingers will be well away from the spinning cutter. When using a smaller diameter bit with less force, you may find that good guard is sufficient. But, when the cutter is larger like this, there is an increased risk of kickback and snatching, no matter what form of protection you use. I’ve not come across a jig to hold small components like this and I’m sure there are others who would tell me to use a rasp…! I think there’s something in the idea of using a quick-grip clamp, even though you have to stop and reposition the work piece several times. It just needs something below the bar to help hold the timber firmly against the table’s surface.
While touching on the subject of Health & Safety, there is a potential slight-issue with the awesome button-cutting jig…
Some bandsaws (including my Startrite 401e) have a guard design with features a ‘nose’-piece at the front, which sits lower than the rest of the construction and the blade-guide assembly. On the jig, the height of the fence means that this needs to be raised a little higher, which does expose an ‘un-necessary’ amount of blade just behind the nose of the guard. Most people would have the common sense to keep the fingers well away from this area, anyway. But, I still think it’s worth pointing this one, as there are other saws around (Hammer being another that comes to mind…) with a similar blade guard design. My worry is that, after a lot of repetition on what is essentially a batch-cutting operation, the mind may start to wonder as the length of the stock your working with is reduced… 😕
One other jig I had a chance to make was a simple yet very effective end stop:
Again, I think this could be very useful when cutting haunches, so as to stop you from cutting too far and weakening the tenon. It’s worth making it a bit long than what you think you need it, just in case you ever need to make any shallow stopped cuts. One change I made was to put a slight radius on one end, which may be advantageous when working with components where the ends are not square… The other end is left square at 90°.
If you haven’t seen the DVDs before and you want to get the best from your bandsaw, do check them out!!
Thanks for reading.