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Tool technology keeps pressing forward, but for many woodworkers there’s no greater satisfaction than quietly chopping out a perfectly fitting dovetail by hand or shaping a piece of trim with a homemade scratch stock. Through the use of hand tools, and the jigs and fixtures that go with them, you can achieve equal results and a greater satisfaction than woodworking with power tools.
The Basics: • Jigs for hand planes: From shooting boards to bench hooks • Jigs for marking and cutting: Speed up the layout process • Jigs for sharpening hand tools: Keep your tools consistently sharp
Jigs for hand planes In essence, a hand plane is something like a jig in its own right; it has an adjustable fence that supports a blade, and depending on the design, its fence and blade can accomplish all kinds of tasks, such as flattening a surface and cutting a groove.
The more complex the plane, the more uses it will have. Just the same, jigs can add to the utility of a hand plane. There are a variety of jigs that can be used to increase the versatility of even the simplest hand plane. A shooting board can help you trim perfect miters with a bench plane. A bench hook can be used to plane thin stock or trim end grain. And a jig that guides a plane evenly along the edge of a workpiece can cut perfect chamfers or edge profiles.
Jigs for marking and cuttingHand-cut dovetails have always been the hallmark of quality in furniture. However, even if you don’t have the steady hand to guide a backsaw to perfect dovetails, jigs for layout, marking, and cutting can aid the process. Jigs can be built to lay out consistently spaced dovetails, guide a handsaw to cut at the correct angle, and support a chisel at the correct angle when cleaning up dovetails.
Other hand-cut joinery techniques can be improved with the help of jigs and fixtures, including jigs to cut clean cheeks and shoulders on a mortise-and-tenon joint.
Jigs for sharpening hand tools In addition to supporting hand tools during an operation, jigs are essential when sharpening hand tools. A sharpening jig can be used to turn a dull backsaw into a surgical dovetailing tool. Shop-made sharpening jigs are also available for tuning cabinet scrapers and chisels.
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