Jigsaws have been around for a long time and most workshops have one but most don't get a lot of use, except those times when you really need something that only a jigsaw can do. I always try to get the most from my tools and when Mark sent me a not about making a patterning jig for a jigsaw, I thought it would be a good idea to see if this would be one way of getting more use from a jigsaw.
Watch it on Youtube: https://youtu.be/ZBVm3zzoIE0
Like many jigs, I started off at the table saw after I selected my wood, which in this case was high quality 1/4" plywood that I could use as the base plate and the first thing I needed to cut was some strips that I could use to capture the jigsaw base plate to the 1/4" plywood material ...
Rather than trying to measure these smaller setting, I often resort to my measuring bars, they are super handy and very accurate. You can see what they look like on my Amazon Store ..
Next, I cut the base of the jig simply by using the jigsaw base and the 2 strips I cut ... a quick easy way of measuring.
I decided to use 2 part epoxy glue to fasten the strips to the base and used some plastic to separate the jigsaw base from the glue, that way in case my glue oozed out onto the jigsaw base wouldn't have to chip the base from the jigsaw base later on.
Next was to measure the holes for both the jigsaw blade and for the pivot pin. I wanted to keep them as close together as I could so that in case I wanted to cut some arcs, I would have a better chance when the pivot point is closer to the blade.
For a pivot or guide point, I decided to use a router bearing with an outside diameter of 3/8" these are available from any good router supply store and while you are there, you will also want to pick up the matching washer with the ridge that allows the bearing to be tightened on down, but the outside bearing housing to still spin freely.
The other options you could use for a guide pin are or course a wooden dowel. I was afraid a dowel would wear too quickly but also thought about just using a bolt with a bunch of matching washers. The washers would not have to spin, they would work the same as a wooden dowel, just a bit more secure and they would last ...
After drilling the holes and attaching the guide pin, I realized the jigsaw would need to be fastened down to the plywood jig. I thought about using double sided tape but it just seems too temporary so I opted to make a bit of a housing, front and back that would capture the base of my jigsaw and hold it down fast with a couple of small screws on each side. This worked well, unfortunately with so many different jigsaws on the market, everyone will need to fabricate their own according to the jigsaws they have.
After attaching the jigsaw to the jig base and installing a new wood blade, it's time to try out this jig because all the theory and ideas are a waste if the jig doesn't work properly, so testing time.
My first try was only OK, I tended to let the guide point wander from the template so the cut was not straight
Test 2 - I used my finger to help keep the jigsaw guide against the template as best I could, this worked better but still not perfect. I could do as good a job free-handing.
Test 3 - still struggling to get a straight, even cut ... I can see this will take practice and a steady hand to get even rudimentary results.
Test ?? (many more) OK, I think I'm getting better but I have wasted some material trying to get this jig to work the way it looks like it should but It's just not doing what it should. In the end, I think I could do as good a job freehand cutting than fussing with this jig that works somewhat, but not great.
Conclusion ... this was an interesting idea and I really thought I could work, but in practice, with a jigsaw, this jig does not perform the way I expected. It's not fast and it's not accurate and it's not clean and there are better ways of template cutting, such as using a router.
Not everything we do in woodworking will turn out the way we expect, and this was one of those projects that I was disappointed did not turn out the way I thought I could. I had hoped that it would give new duties to my seldom used jigsaw but in the end, using my jigsaw freehand is as fast and accurate as this jig ... and now we all know ...
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