Sunday, December 1, 2013

80-20, jiggery, and my foray into building a hay rake table

As I continue to unpack the shop, daily life and parenthood hurtles on in a mildly controllable fashion. Among other things, I had a commission for a hay rake table, made with reclaimed wood, and the client wanted it for Thanksgiving. That, and I still haven't had time to actually hook up the table saw and dust collector, so no table saw was used on this project. Given the need to work quickly, I decided to skip my normal habit of making 'serious' jigs, and worked with a few pieces of 80-20 aluminum that I'd recently unpacked.

If you're a push-button, store-bought jig woodworker, more T-track won't really help you much. If you've been building jigs for a while, and you need a fast way to make new jigs in a flexible way, this stuff is a game-changer. Yes, you can make any of these jigs with wood, MDF, plywood... but there's a lot more drilling, cutting, installing T-track, etc... and at the end of that exercise, you're the proud owner of a dedicated jig that will need periodic recalibration or rebuilding. That's a big investment in time, and an investment in materials that you won't get back. Building these jigs was fast. And when I was done building the table, the original extrusions were in exactly the same condition, and I can use them again for more jigs. THAT'S a big deal.

Fast, flexible, with minimal waste? And not having to break down sheet goods? Yeah, I'm impressed. And I can tell (gut feeling) that I'm just getting my feet wet right now.

Jigs need to position and hold the material in place, and in some cases guide the material past a cutter. Using nothing more than a few carriage bolts, a couple of Incra clamps, and some blocks of scrap wood, I was able to throw together some pretty decent production jigs in a very short amount of time.

Drill press fence for drilling out mortises in the legs. The fence is simply bolted to the table, (holding the plywood surface down, too) the block is held on with a simple 1/4-20 t-track bolt. (The oval-headed kind, not a hex bolt.)

 Stop fence for the band saw, for cutting tenon cheeks, and stopping at the shoulder line. Held onto the band saw fence with Incra clamps.

 Cross-cut fence, and stop fence, for cutting shoulders. I also used this setup for cutting parts to finish length, since some of them (like the legs) were just too big for the track saw to handle. The black extrusions have larger tracks, and use 5/16" carriage bolts.

 Support and stop for drilling out the 45 degree mortises in the stretcher assembly. Again, just bolted to the table. There were moments when I needed the Incra clamp to be moved back, so that I would have space to clamp the material to the extrusion with an F-clamp. Thankfully, there are 3 tracks in the faces of the aluminum, so moving that clamp was very easy. +1 for an easily modified jig...

Cutting the 45 degree mortises in the long stretcher. I did have to bolt on an extended L-shaped block, but it was a very easy thing to do. (By the way, these are the mortises I was working on when I started using the 3-pound hammer.)

As the deadline loomed larger, I quit stopping to take photos. But I also used the extrusions that hold my router table to mount a positioning block to adjust the router table fence more easily and accurately. More on that some other time...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you're a push-button, store-bought jig woodworker, more T-track won't really help you much.

If you're a smug, condescending jack-ass... oh never mind.