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Mike
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221 Posts
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You see the questions all the time.
Who makes the best router table?
Who makes the best jig for this or that.
I makes me want to scream, BUILD IT!
Trying to stay polite; I say nothing.
I understand buying a jig if your a production shop, but for a hobbyist, I assume most of us are, it makes no sense to me.
You more than likely have enough scraps laying around the shop to make them already.
I've been working wood since the sixties. The only jig I ever bought was a Kreg Pocket hole jig and a Omni jig.
If you look at the jigs at various retailers I cant see why you would spend the money when they can easily be copied.
Jig building, to me any way, is just part of wood working.
Your on a wood working forum so I assume your a wood worker.
So, why dont you just build it?
I'm not trying to ruffle feathers, I'm just curious.
 

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Termite
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6,655 Posts
If you have the money , there's no foul. If your like me and every penny counts you might want to build.. But everyone has to put a value on jigs versus time.
 

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As a fellow hobbyist, I'll make some jigs and buy some jigs. It just depends on what it is. If I can make it quickly, I will. It just depends on the item. Like a taper jig, quick and easy to make. A dovetail jig, forget it, spend a bit over $100 and have a better jig than I could make.

I can always make more money, but I can never make more time.
 

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Ole Nail Whooper
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5,486 Posts
For me, it is fun to make my own jigs. When I have a need for a tool that will do something a certain way, it is fun to see if I can come up with a jig for that purpose. One of lately was a jig for cutting a round piece or plug 5/8 inches in diameter with a router, and if really careful a 1/2 inch in diameter. It works great, but it was not my idea, just tweaked it a little.

I also made a jig that makes the 1/4 inch shelf holes for bookcases or cabinet with a router. It is super fast to use over the one Rockler sells that has holes in a plastic strip. Jigs are a lot of fun and are a really big help.
 

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977 Posts
You see the questions all the time.
Who makes the best router table?
Who makes the best jig for this or that.
I makes me want to scream, BUILD IT!
Trying to stay polite; I say nothing.
I understand buying a jig if your a production shop, but for a hobbyist, I assume most of us are, it makes no sense to me.
You more than likely have enough scraps laying around the shop to make them already.
I've been working wood since the sixties. The only jig I ever bought was a Kreg Pocket hole jig and a Omni jig.
If you look at the jigs at various retailers I cant see why you would spend the money when they can easily be copied.
Jig building, to me any way, is just part of wood working.
Your on a wood working forum so I assume your a wood worker.
So, why dont you just build it?
I'm not trying to ruffle feathers, I'm just curious.
Like you, I have an omni-jig for when I have to do a ton of boxes, and a pocket hole jig, low end Kreg. I had a commercial shop and still made all my own jigs. That way they were specific to my needs, accomplished what I needed, to the accuracy I wanted. I built a pretty complex jig that I used for mortising stiles and rails of entry and passage doors, used it for years. It had adjustability to center for the stock thickness and tenon size I wanted to use. My co-workers kept telling me I out to patent it. It was $5 in scrap plywood, $2 in hardwood, and maybe $20 in hardware to make. About five years later I saw my identical jig, fabricated in billet aluminum for $900. I should have filed for the patent....lol. Still use that $26 jig today and I bet I made it 25 years ago.
 

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Thumb Nailer
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2,668 Posts
You see the questions all the time.
Who makes the best router table?
Who makes the best jig for this or that.
I makes me want to scream, BUILD IT!
Trying to stay polite; I say nothing.
I understand buying a jig if your a production shop, but for a hobbyist, I assume most of us are, it makes no sense to me.
You more than likely have enough scraps laying around the shop to make them already.
I've been working wood since the sixties. The only jig I ever bought was a Kreg Pocket hole jig and a Omni jig.
If you look at the jigs at various retailers I cant see why you would spend the money when they can easily be copied.
Jig building, to me any way, is just part of wood working.
Your on a wood working forum so I assume your a wood worker.
So, why dont you just build it?
I'm not trying to ruffle feathers, I'm just curious.
Well, there are jigs, and there are jigs. Or more correctly, there are TEMPLATES and there are JIGS.

My through dovetail jigs are based on MLCS TEMPLATES, my half blind dovetail JIG is factory made and sold by Harbor Freight.

My box joint jigs are shop built.

My clamping jigs are shop built.

My router table is shop built, using a bought router plate as material I am good at working with would deflect too much. The hole for said router plate was cut using a template from the plate MFG, it was a freebie so I used it.

My sign makers letter templates are store bought (Rockler).

My circle cutting jigs are both store bought.

Basically if the time and materials it takes to make it are more than it takes to buy it, then just order the dumb thing, unless there is some sense in accomplishment making the thing. Again, box joint jigs are a prime example. I probably could have done it cheaper if you count the time making them by buying them online, but they were a fun project, and I would do it again in a hot second if I had to...
 

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Well, there are jigs, and there are jigs. Or more correctly, there are TEMPLATES and there are JIGS.

My through dovetail jigs are based on MLCS TEMPLATES, my half blind dovetail JIG is factory made and sold by Harbor Freight.

My box joint jigs are shop built.

My clamping jigs are shop built.

My router table is shop built, using a bought router plate as material I am good at working with would deflect too much. The hole for said router plate was cut using a template from the plate MFG, it was a freebie so I used it.

My sign makers letter templates are store bought (Rockler).

My circle cutting jigs are both store bought.

Basically if the time and materials it takes to make it are more than it takes to buy it, then just order the dumb thing, unless there is some sense in accomplishment making the thing. Again, box joint jigs are a prime example. I probably could have done it cheaper if you count the time making them by buying them online, but they were a fun project, and I would do it again in a hot second if I had to...
Often jigs are made out of necessity. I had to make a bunch of louver style cabinet doors once. The design called for the louvers to be mortised into the stiles. Customarily they lovers are set into diagonally cut slots in the stiles and retained with trim strips. It took me the better part of a day to figure out how to accomplish this so the left and right side would be in perfect register. It took another 4 hours for me to draw it in CAD, another 4 hours to make it. Once it was made I had all the doors mortised out in an hour....lol. But that is what I had to do to get that specific job done. No other way around it. I still have it years later, as I do most of the other fixtures I have made, but have never had another reason to use it.
 

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It's easy to fall into the pitfall of building everything, but the downside is how much time you spend building THINGS vs building THINGS THAT HELP YOU MAKE THE THINGS.

I go towards whatever gets me the most enjoyment.
 

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Termite
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A lot of jigs are made and just sit. I made a box joint jig 15 years ago. It still sits on the shelf. The Omnijig still sits on the shelf. The mortiser just sits, the biscuit jointer just sits. Sometimes I just sits..lol
 

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The Nut in the Cellar
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1,296 Posts
I am a hopeless cheapo. When I started woodworking in earnest, money was rather tight, so jigs and templates were shop built. These projects became learning experiences both for joinery and finishing. I find the challenge of making something for almost nothing that I could buy to be very satisfying so I still do it. Yes, there are these jigs and fixtures lying about that haven't been used for a long time, but at least I didn't spend my money to buy them. On the other hand, my shop built router fence has been in continuous use for over twenty years and it was made from scrap wood and hardware from the junk box.
 

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Ancient Termite
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1,213 Posts
I made or built a "Lee's Box Joint" jig. MEH
Someone suggested to use my Incra positioner and one of the templates. Better than sliced bread with a straight bit designed to plunge.

I was told that a table saw tenon jig was the cat's meow. Yeah, it worked but it was a chore to use and difficult to get precise thickness tenons.
I made a jig to slide on the fence and developed spacers for my dado blade set. WOW! Tenons to 1/128 thickness tolerance. And it made 7.5° tenons as simple as could be.

I needed to make precise length mortises. I have a 'Hollow Chisel Mortiser' but is better used as a boat anchor.
I made a fixture to work with handheld plunge router. (WWJ October 2017, pp. 28-29) I got paid for the article that more than covered the cost of the boat anchor.

To make all your own jigs and fixtures all you need is a bit of thoughtful thinking. If you mess up, you have only lost a few dollars worth of wood and not a fortune in a jig that may be best rated as MEH.
 

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As a fellow hobbyist, I'll make some jigs and buy some jigs. It just depends on what it is. If I can make it quickly, I will. It just depends on the item. Like a taper jig, quick and easy to make. A dovetail jig, forget it, spend a bit over $100 and have a better jig than I could make.

I can always make more money, but I can never make more time.
My same philosophy.

gmc
 

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i too cringe on any forum when someone posts "what is the best xxxx"
when they typically mean "what is the best xxxx for my budget"
cuz typically the best is somewhat expensive and out of my and most peoples budgets

most of my tools i get by with, are they the best? heck no, but they do what i need
my router table is a board with a $80 router bolted on, it works fine
i make and toss most of my jigs, storing a $3 jig make no sense unless you use it all the time
 

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snip
i make and toss most of my jigs, storing a $3 jig make no sense unless you use it all the time
At my age I usually forget how the jig worked after a few months so not much use hanging on to it. 😀
 

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I was cleaning out my shop last month and I had a few jigs I did not even remember what they were supposed to be used for.
 

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Do what you are comfortable with. I get a bigger kick out of figuring out and producing the jig than I do the actual project.
Remember the jig has to be precise in every way or it will prove worthless in the end, so if you are willing to take the time to make it right then it is a rewarding thing.
Plus, I like explaining what it for when someone asks, what it the world is that.
 

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there are some jigs/accessories, that we cannot duplicate in the shop easily, or as well, because the accuracy a factory can attain with precision CNC and Mills...
 
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