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A survivor jig

A jig I made for one-time use decades ago still proves its worth from time to time.

Woodworkers keep things: scrap, old tools we don’t use anymore, drawings for projects we’ll never do again, or – probably most common – jigs. I’m no different. However, I tend to make most of my jigs kind of fancy. That is, I come to a complete halt on a project to build a jig, and in the process turn the jig itself into a project worthy of the same care as the interrupted one, making them worth keeping.

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Then again, I knock some jigs together quick and dirty simply because I need them in a hurry for a single, one-off task. For those, looks and craftsmanship take a back seat. That was the case for that spline jig up above. I’d made a mitered game box for my folks out of cherry harvested from their property and wanted to add contrasting walnut splines for a decorative touch.

The jig is simply a length of 2x4 cut at 45 degrees, one side flipped, and then both attached to a scrap 1x4. Bingo, spline jig. I never intended to use the jig a second time but stashed it anyway with the intent of repurposing the wood.

But I dug the jig out a few months later for a pair of boxes. I’ve probably used that jig dozens of times over the years. I know that the original box I made it for was back in the mid-’90s, making it the oldest jig I own. (Just look at the color of that 2x4; at one time it was typical 2x4 white.)

I just pulled it out again earlier this week for a keepsake box project. It’s banged up and was never very pretty, but it still functions as well as the day I first cobbled it together.

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