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I’m finally nearing the end of construction for a bookcase I’m building for the August issue. I spent last weekend making the two dovetailed drawers for the lower case, and fit them today (they still need a little work, but hey , at least they slide into where they’re supposed to go!).

This afternoon, I moved onto some finishing touches for the upper case, which has two fixed shelves (to help keep the case stable) and three adjustable shelves. In my SketchUp drawing, I graduated the shelf locations so the openings get smaller as the eye moves up the case. That’s all well and good in theory (and in SketchUp), but I have a lot of books, and I want to be able to move the shelves up or down an inch at each location to best accommodate the books I choose to store on each shelf. (“The Complete Christopher Marlowe” is a couple inches taller than “The Norton Shakespeare,” and who knows what will end up where?!)

So, I had to make a jig to accurately locate the adjustable shelf pin holes , one where I laid the shelves out in my drawing, and a hole 1″ above and 1″ below. Sure, I could have used peg board, but we don’t have any in the shop. So, I cut a 6″x9″ piece of 1/2″ plywood, struck a centerline, and used a 1-1/4″ Forstner bit to cut a hole in the middle of the piece, centered on that line. Then, I measured 1-1/4″ in from the front and back edges, marked hole locations 1″ up and 1″ down from the centerline, and drilled 1/4″ holes at at all three locations at the front and back. I used a 6″ rule to bring my centerline down the sides of the Forstner cutout.

I then marked the center hole location for each shelf on both sides of the case, and used the big hole in the middle of the jig to position it to the case sides, aligning the lines in the jig’s hole with the line on the case side. I clamped it in place, slipped a stop collar over a 1/4″ drill bit, and had all my holes drilled in no time. Yeah, I know a shelf-pin jig isn’t all that sexy, but it was my first jig-building experience , and that’s as exciting as was my first kiss! (Warren Hacker, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry.)

– Megan Fitzpatrick

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Showing 4 comments
  • Charles

    lol, thanks Chris. Just re-read my post to find my typo (left out "see") as it’s game I play and win all too frequently.

    You’re first post here cracked me up as I recollected how many times I’ve been dismissed by family and friends when sharing woodworking accomplishments. Here’s one rule I’ve learned… don’t ever reveal these accomplishments when there’s hot food on the table. Even the ones that feign interest the best drop the charade at this point. I learned this painful lesson this past weekend after I was so impressed with myself for spalting a log and had to share. After the normal blank stare from the girlfriend, an awkward pause followed with no words but another look… this one of disdain indicating I had broken an unspoken rule. I knew there was hot pizza on the table… yes, I knew better. This is therapy, right???

    See you later when I play "find my typo again". It’s a horrible cycle.

  • Christopher Schwarz


    So glad you are back. We missed you.


  • Charles

    That’s pretty neat but…. I clicked on the title thinking I was going to someone doing a funky dance… bait and switch is not cool.

  • Chris Schwarz

    I actually feel quite badly about this.

    Megan brought her jig into the offices to show me. She explained how she laid it all out on centerlines and bored the holes (quite tidy work).

    I looked up at her and said, "That’s great."

    But my tone was just like that when my wife saw my first perfect plane shaving and said (bewildered):

    "That’s nice."

    Your jig is great Megan. Really. Your journey has begun. May you never build a jig with an integral micrometer.



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