In Tricks of the Trade

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My father showed me this “bird’s mouth” jig almost 60 years ago. It securely clamps 1/4- to 3″thick boards on edge. It’s so useful that I’ve never bothered to add a vise to my workbench. I’ve been tempted to mount the jig permanently, but I prefer an uncluttered work surface. Besides, this jig is easy to install and remove. To hold a board for planing or edge banding, simply engage one end on the sliding wedge (see top photo). Slide the board and wedge forward until they lock between the fixed wedge and the fence (see bottom photo). Support the back end of the board with a block the same thickness as the base. I cut both wedges from a single board on the tablesaw, using a tapering jig and the blade tilted 45º. I mounted the fence on the base and glued a stop on the sliding wedge. I positioned the two wedges by using a 3/4″ thick spacer between the slid-ing wedge and the fence. Then I fastened the fixed wedge to the base. —Darwyn Briggs


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