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Thread: Building the Woodgears Box Joint jig

  1. #1
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    Building the Woodgears Box Joint jig

    Not sure how long it's been since I started a build thread...

    I have been fascinated by the Woodgears.ca website for years. Matthias Wandel builds fascinating gizmos, jigs, tools as well as interesting wood projects, and posts new items regularly.

    In particular I have been thinking about building a version of his Screw Advance Box Joint Jig for a few years now. Not that long ago I decided that I would try and get started on it over this Christmas holidays as a present to myself.

    If you want detailed build instructions, please go to his website and read his web page, and/or watch his instructional videos, and/or buy his plans -- they're quite inexpensive. My intent here is to just post some photos of my own build, with a focus on what I did different, or areas where I had particular challenges, or anywhere that I thought his plans needed a little elaboration. So I will NOT be posting detailed instructions or plans here, and if you are not familiar with his jig you will likely not understand what I'm doing!

    As of now I have about 2 partial days into building this, and the holidays are about over. As well I have another project on the go with a deadline, so this may take a month or two to get through, I'll warn you!


    So, Onward.
    There's usually more than one way to do it...
    www.wordsnwood.com ........ facebook.com/wordsnwood

  2. #2
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    The first thing that I advise is to do is go out and buy yourself one of these. Look closely, it is not just an ordinary tape measure! Matthias works in metric; his plans and instructions are almost entirely in metric, so you will want to have a metric tape measure at minimum. I also have a combination square which reads in metric, which is proving to be extremely useful.

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    I am not used to working off plans other than my own. I've been designing my own projects pretty much since I began woodworking. So working off of plans is already a stretch.

    One thing unique about Matthias' plans is the inclusion of these 1:1 plans. I've watched several of his videos where he demonstrates how he uses 1:1 plans in a lot of his projects. It intrigues me, so with this project I went ahead and printed out the 1:1 plans and taped them together. (This took two tries, two sets of plans, to get right. It is not quite as simple as he makes it look in his videos.) And so I am trying out his method of taking some dimensions and cutting instructions directly off of the plans.

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    You'll need to go shopping for some hardware. Some of the requirements you might already have in your shop. Check through your bolts and jig parts. The threaded rod, 2x10, and other random t-nuts and so on, were easy to find at the local Big Box lumber/hardware store. I also had some jig knobx/bits from Lee Valley which I'd picked up years ago for various projects. The metal bar for the miter slot is also fairly easy to find at the local metal supermarket, though I haven't yet picked it up.

    The bearings are another matter. Home Depot did not carry them. Princess Auto has some, but not the right size. I happen to have some broken down rollerblades which also has pretty decent bearings in the wheels -- I plan to try to use one of those for the Idler assembly, since I don't believe that the bearing size is critical there. However, for the bearing that supports the threaded rod, size is critical. You'll need to look up a bearing supplier in your hometown. It was only about $3 each, so I grabbed two to have a spare.

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    Here is the stock holding box glued and clamped.

    Typically I build with hardwood. Typically, Matthias uses a lot of softwood in his projects. (If you watch his videos you will quickly realize that he is extremely frugal, and uses a lot of found or scrounged wood, as well as often looking for more inexpensive ways to accomplish something rather than simply buying the latest whatsit._ I do have extra hardwood on hand, and briefly considered just building it all out of hardwood. But as this is my first time using one of his plans, I decided to just go with his plans as much as possible and use the same materials he does. As well, this is going to be a fairly big jig, so I am also conscious of how much it is going to weigh!

    I will make one comment on this step. The plans note that a single 8ft 2x8 piece of construction lumber will provide enough wood for the needed pieces. I would suggest instead buying the nices 2x10 that you can find. Around here, the 2x10 lumber in the local big box store is FAR nicer and clearer than the 2x8 lumber. Check the rings on the end of the wood. With 2x8 lumber they can use smaller trees than with the 2x10s, so by buying a 2x10 and cutting out your pieces from the outside edges, you will get closer to quarter sawn, wich will be more stable, and farther from the pith of the tree.

    Another thing: Do buy your 2x stock a few weeks ahead of time to let it acclimatize to your shop. Construction lumber is not always the most dry and stable. Even so I would also build the box the same day that you cut and plane the pieces.

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    Here I am cutting out the slots for the corner splines in the stock holding box. In the instructions/video he just uses a jury rig with a cross cut sled. I can understand that, as it is only a few cuts. However I found that procedure a bit unsteady. As well, building a sled to hold this stable was only the work of about 10 minutes. You can see that it is just 4 pieces of scrap plywood assembled with nails/screw/glue.

    NOTE: If you build a little jig like this, think in advance of where you are going to cut. For the sides, I kept the nails in the upper half of the boards. For the cradle portion, I only put in two screws, and kept both of them at the extreme edges. This leaves lots of room in middle for the saw blade. Note that for this cut you are raising up the saw blade quite high, so you need a lot of clearance around it.
    Keep those nails away!
    There's usually more than one way to do it...
    www.wordsnwood.com ........ facebook.com/wordsnwood

  3. #3
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    Early in the process, I realized that I needed the plans close at hand. Fortunately I happened to have an old clunker laptop that I could bring into the shop, which I did not care too much if it died due to the dust or other shop hazards.

    This way I now had the plan package close at hand, and I could flip through the files, photos, instructions, as needed. Even more importantly, I could play snippets of the instructional videos. I found I would play another 1-3 minutes of video at a time, which would give me pointers as to what would be the next step in the process.

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    For the thin piece of hardwood to glue to the front of the stock box, I used some scrap maple hardwood flooring which I had obtained from a neighbour some time ago. The baked on finish on this stuff is REALLy hard. I learned the hard way to NOT try planing it off. Instead I rip off about a 16th inch off of the top. You can see it on the left -- the finish is really strong as you can see. Beside it is the glue-up of two pieces of flooring

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    This is what happens when you cut a dado on the WRONG SIDE OF THE LINE. ARGH. The tolerances on this project are very precise, so I did not think I could just adjust the result, so I glued in a carefully ripped pieced of maple and then proceeded. Thank goodness for modern glues and long-grain joints! And thankfully I caught this before I'd make the next cut, as that would have really set me back!

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    Here is the next cut, which was fairly complicated to set up. This is the half-dovetail which is cut along the front of the stock-holding box, for where the box rides along the front rail.

    And that is where I am so far.
    There's usually more than one way to do it...
    www.wordsnwood.com ........ facebook.com/wordsnwood

  4. #4
    I'll be watching this with interest.

    I've already built his quick set tenon jig, the horizontal slot mortiser and his pantorouter. His plans are excellent and complete.

    I did use the full size templates he supplies to cut out and mark parts which made everything very simple and trouble free.

    As a side note he has a big print program that will let you download templates and patterns and print them full size. No more graph paper needed to re-scale drawings again.
    http://woodgears.ca/bigprint/index.html

  5. #5
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    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  6. #6
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    You have taken on quite a project! I use to visit Matthias Wandel's site quite often until my last computer died. Then I lost my book marks and had forgotten about it. Thanks to you I now have it back. The guy is an amazing builder. I love to just browse and think of things I am going to try "someday".

    Good luck on your project. Thanks for posting the progress and the good commentary. I will be following along on your progress. Got to try making some of those gears....
    "We the People ......"

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Bienlein View Post
    I've already built his quick set tenon jig, the horizontal slot mortiser and his pantorouter. His plans are excellent and complete.
    I've been looking at the pantorouter as well as the slot mortiser also... Don't think I have room for all three of them! Maybe someday
    There's usually more than one way to do it...
    www.wordsnwood.com ........ facebook.com/wordsnwood

  8. #8
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    Just a bit more progress today...

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    Got the t-nut mounting pice fabricated, as well as the dado in the stock box where the threaded rod fits.

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    Gluing up some maple for the gear mount block. Working on this is way out of sequence, but I discovered that I did not have a piece of 12mm (half inch) baltic birch plywood that was large enough for the base. So, I'm kind of stuck until I can get to the lumberyard to buy some more.


    This gear block is a pretty beefy piece of wood. So you likely will need to glue up a few chunks of hardwood, unless you happen to have some particularly thick stock on hand. The left-hand frame piece, where you mount the bearing, is another such piece. Three cm thick hardwood (1-1/4") is also not the most common. I wish I'd taken note of these pieces at the beginning, so I could get them all prepared at once, rather than having to come to a stop right now as I wait for the glue to dry.

    (well, to be fair, it was the missing piece of 12mm BB which really threw a monkey wrench into my plans for today! )
    There's usually more than one way to do it...
    www.wordsnwood.com ........ facebook.com/wordsnwood

  9. #9
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    It could be worse You could be on fire.
    Stupid hurts.

  10. #10
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    Here is my first quibble with the plans -- and it's a minor one. (These plans are awesome.) The 1:1 plans show the screw locations for fastening the frame-front-rail to the base of the jig. The instructions suggest that you just lay the plans over the base and tap a scribe on each mark to transfer the location to the wood and then drill the holes.

    My quibble is that the screws for the front rail are all centered on the front rail, which makes perfect sense. However at the left side of the front rail, we have earlier cut the rail skinnier, so it is only 3cm thick there. So those two screw locations are NOT positioned over the center of the rail. On my build, my front rail split when I screwed into it from the base. It was a small split and I was able to force in glue and clamp it closed, and then reposition the screw. I'm sure part of that is just the way the grain moved through my piece of wood, but I do think that positioning the screws so they were properly centered there on the left would have helped.

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    So, I suggest you move these two screw holes 3-4mm closer to the front, which positions them properly in the center of that part of the front rail.
    (And yes I emailed that suggestion to Matthias at Woodgears.)
    There's usually more than one way to do it...
    www.wordsnwood.com ........ facebook.com/wordsnwood

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