Jigs and Fixtures Projects - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Keyed Miter Joint Table Saw Jig

This shop-made table saw jig makes quick work of reinforcing miter joints.

By Matthew Teague
Pages 60-61

I love the clean look of a mitered box that has continuous grain wrapping around the corners. It’s an easy detail to create, but a sure sign that the maker is paying close attention to the details. The downside of a mitered box? Miter joints are notoriously weak because they have no real mechanical strength; glue is all that holds them together.

You can reinforce miter joints in a few different ways, but my favorite method is to use exposed keys. These hardwood keys are nothing more than thin lengths of wood glued into slots that span both sides of the joint to help hold everything together. To cut the slots for these keys at the table saw you need only a small jig that runs against the saw’s fence. The jig cradles the assembled box at a 45° angle and allows you to guide it through the cut.

Keys not only add great strength to miter joints, they also provide a decorative effect. Once the jig is made, you can arrange the keys in any number of ways, using either a matching or contrasting wood. For a slightly different look, you can cut wider key slots by simply adjusting the table saw fence to take two or more passes for each slot. For angled keys, which create joints that arguably are even stronger, simply angle the blade. You can even use this same jig at the router table to create dovetailed key slots – just be sure to hog out the bulk of the waste in the jig itself before you cut the actual box.

Blog: See more on building mitered boxes and a slide show on installing the keys.
Model: Download a 3D SketchUp model of the box seen here.
Articles: Find plans and instructions for making and using a wide variety of jigs.

‘Gizmozilla’ – An Improved Router Fixture Meets Moxon-style Vise

A perfect union between an improved router fixture and a Moxon-style vise.

By Kenneth Speed
Pages 40-43

This fixture, which I’ve christened “Gizmozilla,” grew out of my general dissatisfaction with the methods available to small shops to cut mortises. At one time I used a small hollow-chisel mortiser but I never found the results satisfactory. I tried an open-sided box jig for router mortising, but by the time I had everything in position and clamped I was completely out of patience with the whole procedure. Finally, I resorted to drilling out mortises on my drill press and doing the final chopping out by hand. While I was generally happy with the resulting mortises, the process was far too slow.

Then I happened on an article in an old woodworking magazine that described a basic router mortising fixture. It was a wooden beam with an attached channel for the router edge guide; it used Jorgensen hold-down clamps to secure the workpiece. The author nailed stops to the beam to limit router travel. While the basic idea was sound, it seemed less than fully developed. Nailing stops to something I’d just worked hard to make smooth and square seemed a little crazy, so I added T-track and moveable stops.

I also added wooden clamping cauls of various lengths outfitted with steel bars and rare earth magnets to hold them to the clamps while allowing for some adjustment. The cauls and Gizmozilla’s 4′ length adds to its flexibility.

Video: Find out where the glue goes inside a mortise-and-tenon joint.
To Buy: “Getting Started with Routers” DVD.
Plan: Download a SketchUp model of Gizmozilla.
In Our Store: “55 Best Shop-Made Jigs” CD.

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