Make 8, Week 6
The goal of this jig is to level edge grain surfaces for cutting boards. Running edge grain through a planer is tempting, but not recommended. I’m not going to risk my new planer, so I’m trying this setup. The idea here is to use a router with a large straight bit to chew through the surface of the wood. To get a level surface, you run the router over the workpiece in a parallel plane.
So, I built a simple sliding platform with a center slot that rides along two rails. I used 3/4 particle board for the bottom and 2x4s for the rails. I ran the 2×4 through the jointer to get them level. In theory, the jointed rails and flat particle board should be parallel to the work surface that’s supporting the workpiece.
I glued two sides on top of the jig on the long edge using more particle board. This keeps the router on the jig. I also glued two guides to the bottom of the jig to keep it on the rails. Here I used scrap plywood that I already had cut into strips. At first, I didn’t have these guides, but the vibration of the router makes the jig move laterally and slip off the rails. For the slot, I measured the diameter of my router bit and cut out a slot in the surface of the jig. To cut, I just drilled some holes and used a jigsaw. It’s nothing fancy or pretty. The critical parts of this jig are the flatness of the bottom and the rails.
To set up the jig, I placed two scrap pieces of wood between the cutting board and rails. Then I clamped it all together to make it stable. For height, I slide the jig on either the long or short side of the glide boards and adjusted the router bit depth as needed. The jig and rails are not attached so that it can handle a variety of sizes. I just need to have a couple pieces of scrap wood to fit between the rails and workpiece. Also, note the burn marks from my table saw. I recently picked up a new saw blade and it’s an amazing difference on hardwood.
In my first attempt, it did the job, but I ended up taking off a lot of material. And it made quite a mess. Next time, I’ll fine tune the technique and setup to get a lighter pass. There was also some machine marks, which isn’t a big deal since it needs to be sanded, but this can probably be improved.
You can make this jig as wide as needed. This one is about two feet, I think. You just want to make it wide enough to accommodate the workpiece and a little buffer so not to run into your rails. (I thought about clamping stops for the router, but I kept it simple and was just mindful of my progress.)
BONUS: My bench jointer can face joint up to 6-inch boards and my planer can thickness plane up to 12-inches, so I’m thinking this jig could be useful if I need to mill larger boards for thickness or straightness.