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Magnetic Switches for Jigs

 

Innovation and woodworking go hand in hand. Despite the fact that woodworking is the second oldest profession, it has always been a place where new tools and ideas meet. Such is the case with the "Magswitch". If you aren't familiar with the Magswitch, it is simply a magnet that can be switched off and on. So if you place a magswitch on a steel table, like a table saw, and turn the switch, the magnets are energized, adhering the unit to the table.  When the switch is turned off, the switch can be lifted off the table with same effort it takes to lift  a screw driver off the table.

 

Having a tool that is quick and easy for making and adapting to jigs is a HUGE benefit in the workshop for saving time and for making more accurate cuttings, and that's just where the magswith is perfect ....

Magswitches are great, but they have one shortcoming, and that is that without too much work, you can slide them across a smooth steel table, like on a table saw. To solve this, I used some thin double sided carpet tape to adhere a little disc of anti-slip material to the bottoms of my magswitches.

The anti-slip material must be very thin to work, but when you get it on there, and turn the switch on, those magswitches are REALLY locked onto the table and almost impossible to lift off, OR to slide, making them even more useful for jigs and other adaptions.

Where Magswitches play a role in woodworking is in the variety of uses by way of jigs and old-down apparatus that can be used in conjunction with them. The first time I ever saw a Magswitch was when I was working at a woodworking show and someone across the isle was demonstrating them. The first thing I thought of was "what a perfect way to hold my fence on my band saw". Of course I had to purchase a set and that's exactly what I did with them, adapted them to the shop made fence on my big ripping band saw.

The beauty of using the magswitches on a fence, especially a band saw, is that you can very easily compensate for band saw drift when you are cutting wood. Those of you that use band saws will know that many band saws tend to cut wood at a bit of an angle. This is know as band saw "drift", and it varies depending on the band saw, the blade being used, the wood being cut and often even at the speed wood is fed through the band saw. The point is, wood often wants to track obliquely through the saw and with an infinitely adjustable fence, you can re-set the fence angle in an instant.

The second most tool I use in conjunction with my Magswitches is a thin slicing jig on my tablesaw ....

If you ever find that you need to cut very thin strips of wood on your table saw, this little jig is invaluable. I often find myself cutting thin strips of wood for banding and inlay work. Of course you cannot cut thin strips of wood like one sixteenth strips using the fence because it is impossible (and unsafe) to try to get a push stick that thin, and, then there is the issue of getting the strip caught in the insert, even if you have zero clearance, there is still a chance of getting hung between the fence, the blade and the insert, and so for this reason we cut the thin strips on the out-board side of the blade. The issue with doing this, is how to you get exactly the right width of strip each time? and the answer is ... with a thin strip jig.

 

This jig is adjustable in that the bolt that is screwed into the T-Nut in the end of the jig can be screwed in and out and then locked in place using the nut. I tried using a wing nut rather than the nut but it always seemed to be in the way and because I use this jig a lot, I wanted to have a nice large bolt head to butt the wood up to each time rather than a smaller bolt that might be able to accommodate a wing nut .... but do what works best for you. Once I have found the exact width I need, I tighten the nut and bolt down then use the Magswitches to "lock" the jig to the tablesaw's table. Now I can make as many thin strip cuts as I want, all will be exactly the same, but now using the fence to butt the wood up to the head of the bolt in the jig.

There are many, many other uses for the Magswitch, and one of those is using it on feather boards. I don't use feather boards very often on the table saw, but when I do, it is easy to attach and holds very firmly.

Click the image below to check out Magswitches at Rocker