Mulberry Hall Woodworking - Jigs


Tenoning Jig

Tapering Jig

Shelf Pin Jig

Dovetail Jig

BoxJoint Jig

Mortising Machine


Dovetail Jig

This is my homemade dovetail jig created from an older issue of ShopNotes. I was looking for a dovetail jig, but didn't want to spend a lot of money. I didn't want to buy an off-brand (the phrase you-get-what-you-pay-for rang clear on this one), so I found this plan and decided it was just what I was looking for. I needed a dovetail jig to build the drawers for my Pine Server Table, so this came first.

Built out of hard maple and a hardboard template, the total cost for building this jig including all hardware was probably around $40.00. Well worth the price of having a great half-blind jig of this style. It was not difficult to construct, although precise measurements had to be made when creating the hardboard "comb". I actually bought some UDMV material for the comb, but wanted to create it first with hardboard to make sure it was set up right. I just haven't gotten around to creating the 'permanent' templates. The jig uses cams cut out of maple and eyebolts engaged in threaded inserts to snug up and then lock down the pieces being clamped in the jig.

The template in these photos is for 1/2" half-blind dovetails with a 1/2" dovetail bit, as seen on the Pine Server table. The 2nd photo above shows the drawer going together with the drawer front clamped into the top of the jig and the drawer side clamped to the front of the jig. Both the pins and the tails of one corner and routed out at once, as in a traditional half-blind only jig.

To create the Jewelry Boxes drawers, I created a new template to create 1/4" half-blind dovetails using a 1/4" dovetail bit. I also had to create new wood stop for each end of the jig that had the proper offset for this size of dovetails between the top/bottom and sides of the drawers.

It's setup up pretty easily. A few trial cuts to get that perfect fit and you're ready to roll out the real joints. The template is attached with angle brackets, and can be adjusted in and out on the threaded rods and wing nuts. The stop blocks on each end can also be adjusted from side to side to obtain the correct lineup of the dovetails. In most cases, you want the dovetails centered on the drawer piece; these moveable stopblocks help line that up.

BoxJoint Jig

I finished this jig in Feb. 2001. It was also built from a plan in an old issue of ShopNotes that I receive in a monthly Time-Life book club on Custom Woodworking.

It is pretty quick and simple to build, once you have all the hardware to put it together. I made this one out of hard maple, hoping to make it last awhile. The jig is attached to the miter gauge of the saw.

The nice thing about this jig, is that it can be precisely fine-tuned to cut exact box joints in just about any size. There are two flat metal angle brackets that can be adjusted in and out with one of the wing nuts on the end and a red locking knob on the back. These are adjusted to the spacing width, so that once a pass is made with the saw and dado-set, this "dado" can then be set over the metal brackets perfectly, acting as the finger.

The other wing nut and red locking know are used to slide the entire bracket assembly right or left, which determines your spacing between fingers of the joint. The wings nuts on the end are threaded onto a 10-24 rod, so precise adjustment is easy to obtain.

Where the dado blade passes through the jig, there is a replaceable insert held on with a flathead bolt and knob. This prevents chipout on the backside of the board, and can be easily replaced when cutting a different size of boxjoint.

On my first test cut with the jig on a box-joint corner, it only took one trial cut to determine my spacing was a little small. The 2nd set of cuts made a perfect joint! Keep an eye out on these pages for projects made with this jig!

Mortising Machine

(FOR SALE! I just bought a dedicated mortiser and so no longer have a need for this jig, email me if you want any more details!)

This jig, from a more recent version of ShopNotes was created, just like the dovetail jig, to make the mortises in the legs of the Pine Server Table shown on this website. I've since used it on numerous things, including the Cherry blanket chest.

Made out of some scrap pine I had in the shop, a couple pieces of MDF for the tabletop and fence, and a few pieces of hardware, it went together pretty quick. The MDF table has hardwood runners in the bottom of it, which slide in an aluminum channel running lengthwise, that is dadoed flush in the pine box. Another runner runs perpendicular to this one, with a small bearing in the center. This bearing fits in the slot of the handle sticking out from the front.

There are slots in the MDF table in the rear, behind the fence with threaded knobs so that the table can be adjusted back and forth to line up the mortise with the bit of the router. Also on the backside (out of view) of the MDF table are carriage bolts with knobs on the end. The heads of the carriage bolt are adjusted to act as a stop, which contact the tower when you reach the limit of the mortise. With the stop full in, you can create about a 4" length mortise.

When the handle is moved left or right in an arc, the table slides back and forth in a straight line. The router depth is adjusted with the large threaded rod, with the router carriage assembly sliding on aluminum rods. Encased in the carriage assembly are brass sleeve bearings to make this adjustment smooth. The large threaded rod will soon be replaced with a press screw, making it easier to adjust up or down. The threaded rod just didn't work out as I thought it would.

The idea is to get everything set up, turn on the router and lower it into the piece to be mortised about 1/16" inch. Then the handle is moved from one side to the other. The router is then lowered incrementally, while moving the handle with each pass until the desired depth is reached. There is a depth scale that can be adjusted on the left side of the machine. The scale is adjusted so once you hit the zero mark on the ruler you're mortise is to the desired depth. It works very nice.

If I was to build it again, I would create it with a much larger range of motion side to side. In most cases, after plowing out line, I have to slide the piece and run another set to obtain the desired length of the mortise. Usually I select the correct bit to cut the width of the mortise in one pass. I would also like to lower the fence height, as frequently I have to place another piece of wood on the table so that the router bit can reach the depth without the carriage assembly bottoming out on the fence. Otherwise, its a gem, and I'ved used no other method to cut my mortises since!

Shelf Pin Jig

I created this to create the shelf pin holes for the Oak Cabinet. It is entirely based on Norm Abrams design in a recent episode dedicated to jigs. I had taped the show and when I had to make these holes, I watched it again and built my version.

I built mine out of a 1/2" piece of MDF, 8"x36". I laid out a centerline across the length and set up the drill press fence to drill a 5/8" hole centered 1-1/2" in from one side. I placed tick marks on the edge of the MDF every inch down the side. I lined up the centerline with the drill bit and put a mark on the drillpress fence. I then drilled out the 5/8" through holes using a Forstner bit using the tick marks and the line on the fence to evenly space them. This 5/8" hole will fit the router bushing/collar used to make the shelf pins.

I used a 1/4" spiral bit in the plunge router and a straightedge to create the two slots on either side. These are used to adjust the jig's fence mounted underneath. Once thesse slots were routed, I cut a 3/4" pice of MDF to 2" wide by 36-1/2" long, a 1/4" overhang on each end of the jig. I 1/4" hole was marked and drilled on this fence to accept a carriage bolt used to attach it. As Norm did, I also marked lines along the edges of the jig every 1/4" from the center of the holes out along the slot so I could adjust the fence easily and quickly.

In use, its very nice and quick. For the Oak Wall Cabinet, I adjusted the fence so that the centerline of the holes was 1-1/4" from the edge. Then all you have to do is draw a centerline on the piece to receive the holes and butt the fence against the piece, aligning the centerline of the jig with the centerline of the finished piece. Using the plunge router with a 5/8" collar and 1/4" spiral bit, with the depth adjusted to cut a 1/2" deep, I was able to simply flip on the router and plunge the bit into each hole very quickly along the line. Sure beats using a drill! And it only took me about 45minutes to build.

Tapering Jig

After using the hinged-style taper jig to taper the legs on the Pine Server Table and not feeling very comfortable or safe with it, I decided to make this style of tapering jig from plans in a ShopNotes article.

I built the jig out of some 1/2" MDF as the base, 1/4" hardboard as the top, and some scrap Red Oak for the runner, "fence", and centering piece at the rear of the jig. A dado was cut in the 1/2" MDF as one step in making the T-slots for T-bolts used for holddown clamps. After cutting the dadoes, I used contact cement to attach a slightly oversized piece of 1/4" hardboard. After that was dry, I trimmed the hardboard with a flush cutting bit on the router. I narrowed the dado in the tablesaw and cut centered dadoes into the hardboard, directly centered on the larger dadoes in the MDF. This created the T-slot.

A oak strip was glued on the one edge to keep everything straight. A couple of holes were drilled near the rear of the jig for the centering device. This Oak bar has a very small nail sticking out of it, which is used for tapering multiple sides of a leg. The center point of the bottom of the leg is found, and this nail is placed at that location. The rear bar and forward Oak stop is adjusted to create the amount of taper desired. Then, after each cut, the leg is simply rotated 90deg. and cut again.

The holddown clamps are also used on my drill press table, and were part of a kit from Rockler which included the two holddowns, and a 48" T-track. Click on this link for the item.

I've used it often for making just about any kind of angled cut. I built the jig when I was creating a set of Adirondack Chairs for a customer, to taper the front legs (these are the similiar to the Adirondack chairs detailed on this website. I've since used it for jointing edges of small boards that are rough-sawn. Works great!

Tenoning Jig

I had been wanting to build this jig ever since I saw it a long time ago. I had never used a tenoning jig but instead had always used a dado set and my miter gage with the wood laid on the table to cut the cheeks of the tenon. But it always bugged me that the resulting cut wasn't perfectly smooth, even though it was snug, and that it took more time to do.

I built this jig in preparation for the Entertainment Center / Armoire I've undertaken. Since I have so many tenons to cut (around 75 for each Armoire!), I figured now was the time to do it. I built the jig out of 3/4" cabinet A grade birch plywood and some scrap Hard Maple.

I laid out a cutting diagram to get all the pieces cut out of a 2'x2' piece of the Birch (the rest was for the Armoire) and glued up the Hard Maple blanks for the clamp bar, the vertical support bar. After all the pieces were cut, I used the plunge router with a 1/4" spiral bit to cut the vertical slot, used for adjusting the height of the support bar (so it won't get cut by the blade). I also cut a horizontal slot in the base for use to adjust the top platform in and out. I then used the plunge router with a guide bushing and a template I had saved from the Boat Ladder project to create the cutout for the handle...it pays to save those templates! Next it was to the bandsaw to cut the outside of the handle and the quarter-circles in the braces.

Everything else is pretty straightforward. A set of springs are used to push out the clamp block, making it easy to remove the piece to be cut. The idea of the jig is that you can cut both cheeks without having to remove the piece from the jig and flip it around. You set the wing nuts and stops on the threaded rod so that as the platform moves left and right, it hits against the stop, the platform is locked down with the knob and the cut is made. Back up, move to the other stop and complete the tenon. Works great!

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, Created by Gunn, © 2001