Woodworking jigs are any item or component that helps you make repeatable or more difficult cuts in your work. These are typically items that you make for yourself but you can buy some of these jigs from suppliers. My suggestion is to build them for yourself to build some more skills but you can customize them to what you need exactly.
All-in-all, woodworking jigs are critical for maximizing the efficiency of your tools.
This is number one because it is absolutely critical for your table saw. Not only for accuracy but for your safety as well. Cutting any piece that is wider than it is long (think cutting a 2×4 to length) is dangerous on your table saw if you are not properly supporting it.
A crosscut sled can be built out of scrap plywood and a small piece of hardwood for the miter slot slide. There are tons of videos on YouTube on how to build a crosscut sled so I’m not going to go in to details on that.
What I will go into detail on however is on how they can be used (from basic to slightly more complicated).
The crosscut sled is one of the most important jigs in the shop. You should build one right away when you buy a table saw.
So this one isn’t technically a “jig” by some people’s standards but it fits my definition of a jig above. A stop block is so great because you can set it one time and cut the exact same length cut over and over again. Doing legs and need them to be identical? It’ll do that. Need stretchers to match perfectly? Done! Building a box and need it super square? Yep.
A miter saw stop block can be anything from a nice extruded aluminum fence with a sliding stop block to a recessed T-track with a stop block in your miter saw station to even just a piece of wood screwed down next to your miter saw when you need it. Mine personally is the T-track style option. It’s very convenient and I even have a tape measure right next to it so I don’t have to measure and mark my distance every time.
If you’re going to be doing repeatable cuts, this is so worth it.
Again, others may not consider this a job, but following my definition of jigs, it helps to make difficult cuts. Similarly to the crosscut sled, it not only helps your cuts but makes your work much safer.
Your table saw probably came with a push stick. One that looked somewhat like a chicken foot a the end that was pretty narrow overall. In my opinion, these aren’t great. They can be helpful as a secondary helper but you should upgrade your push stick to something sturdier and safer.
There are a lot of different push stick designs out there but here are some key features I think you should consider:
My push stick is relatively simple but makes me feel much more confident in my cuts. Mine is a 2×6 board cut to about 8 inches long with some holes drilled for my hand to grip. I use plywood glued to the base and back catch so as I make cuts that contact the push stick, I can trim the plywood off and reglue new pieces on. Its extremely simple and easy to make but so much better than the supplied options.
This one is probably one that most people want to buy. But I have seen lots of people building their own as well.
The idea behind this is to not have any gap between your saw blade and the insert it is passing through. This stops any small thin piece of wood falling down in to the arbor area or getting stuck between your blade and insert. It helps with tear out during your cutting process because the piece is supported until right up next to that blade. It can also help line up your piece to be cut because the edge of the kerf on the insert is where your cut will be on your board. (this is great on a crosscut sled too!)
Now there are countless other jigs and accessories that are great to have in your shop. But these four are things that you will use all the time and be glad that you made every time you use them. Take a weekend and build these all for yourself and watch your woodworking jump to the next level.
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