What are the top jigs and fixtures used in a well-equipped woodshop? In addition to a solid assortment of quality power tools, you’ll want to consider a few key jigs that help improve your workflow in the shop. Some make cutting or drilling tasks more accurate, while others improve speed or make the process easier. Let’s take a look at the top 5 jigs to add to any power tool shop.
1. Probably the most overlooked jig in the woodworking shop is a bandsaw crosscut sled. If you’ve ever tried to cut small parts or dowels to length on a power miter saw, you know the parts can turn into projectiles careening around the shop. To avoid that situation, I built a small parts crosscut sled for the bandsaw. A wooden runner under the sled rides in the miter gauge of the bandsaw, and a stop system allows you to set the length and make repeated cuts without a pencil and tape measure.
To build your own bandsaw crosscut sled, check out this blog: Make a Bandsaw Crosscut Sled
2. A precision tapering sled will expand your capabilities at the tablesaw, and let you cut perfect 2-sided or 4-sided tapers. The sled rides in the miter slot, for repeatable control and accuracy. A series of clamps secures the workpiece to the sled, so all you have to do is slowly push the sled past the blade. Compared to commercially available metal tapering sleds, this version makes tapers stone-simple to cut. Learn how to reinforce T-tracks installed in plywood, and make your own tapering sled here: A Better Tapering Sled for the Fusion F2 Tablesaw
3. An exact-width dado jig certainly makes the list of the best shop jigs. My preference is actually to make dados at the tablesaw with a dado blade. However, with large panels or stopped-dados it makes sense to use a router jig. Exact-width dado jigs let you use the shelf stock itself to set the width of the dado. This is great because you get a nice fitting joint without much setup. There are several commercial jigs available, or you can make your own. Check out my YouTube channel The Thoughtful Woodworker for a new DIY exact width dado jig. The video will be available July 1st 2022.
4. A Doweling Jig! While certainly not new technology, this self-centering doweling jig still gets regular use in my shop. I don’t build entire projects with dowels, because I prefer mortise and tenon construction. However, with complex assemblies like cabinets and bookcases, I often employ a few carefully placed dowels. The fact that the jig centers the drilling guides on the stock automatically is such a useful feature, especially if both workpieces are the same thickness. If your self-centering doweling jig isn’t centering properly, check out this short video on how to adjust it here: How to Adjust a Woodworking Self Centering Doweling Jig
5. The venerable X-Cut sled. Is a crosscut sled ever really big enough? Well, this one might be. Sized for large panels and cabinet work, this sled also handles rails and furniture parts up to 3 feet long. It uses aluminum runners, and a “cross-bridge” made from iron pipe to avoid some of the problems with other jig designs. Check out all the details in this short video: How to Make a Crosscut Sled for a Tablesaw
How about a box joint jig for the tablesaw? This great jig features a micro-adjustment knob, and is simple to build.
Read the blog here… Making a Box Joint Jig for a Tablesaw
Or check out the short video: Box Joint Jig for Tablesaw
Willie Sandry is a Freelance Writer for several woodworking magazines, blogger, crafter and YouTube creator. Check out his channel The Thoughtful Woodworker