Jig Design in SketchUp – A Little Reverse Engineering
While I am working through the drawings for a project in SketchUp, I am also thinking about how I’d go about building it in my shop. I work out the order of operations and figure out how to group processes to reduce setup time in the shop. Doing that helps me avoid mistakes when I’m actually cutting the wood. This also gives me a chance to think about the safety of the various operations before I get to the shop. Sometimes I decide that I’ll need to make a jig or a template to complete an operation. If a jig or template is needed, it can be designed right off the model. Templates can be printed to full size as needed.
I’ve been working on a design for this sideboard and wine server for our dining room. Actually, the design work has been done for awhile and I’ve been letting it cook for awhile to see if this is what we really want.
The joints between the sides and the tops are through dovetails. These pieces are drawn at 2″ thick, the sideboard is 7′ long and the wine server is 56″ tall. I’ve decided I’ll cut the dovetails with a router. The parts, though, are too large to handle with the Router Boss so I’ll make myself a couple of templates to follow with a handheld router instead. I’m also using a large HSS dovetail cutter for which I’ve not found a commercially made template.
Designing the templates is simple enough. Since the joints are identical between the two pieces, I copied a side and the top from the wine server on which to work out the templates. Since these pieces are components, it was easy enough to copy them with Ctrl+Move. Then working right on those components, I drew the parts for the templates while thinking about how I would support and guide the router. I’ll be able to make the templates using the Router Boss setup to cut dovetails as normal. Theoretically it should all work perfectly. Normally, if I was only making the illustrations for my own use, I wouldn’t bother with applying materials. I did that for this blog post.