Written by Dave Murray on . Posted in Tools


Tools & Homemade Jigs

Through the years, I have had to fashion some of my own tools out of necessity or not being able to find it commercially available. I've had extreme enjoyment from designing or "revamping" a tool I may have seen somewhere. Here are a few examples of some things I've made.


Re Saw Jig


Building jigs is as much fun as they are necessary.


This is a jig that I built for helping me re-saw expensive pieces of wood. The dimensions can be varied to any situation , but for the most part these dimensions work for almost everything that I do. .I needed a jig that provided me a constant pressure against a secured straight edge. This is usually done with some sort of “feather stick” in other applications. I also wanted it be adjustable for different thickness that I may need it for. My first thought was to use ball bearing type rollers, which would work very well I'm sure, but proved to be a bit more expensive than I wanted to get into. I wanted the jig to be set up quickly and have precise accuracy with repeatability For my saw I needed a squared edge that was about 9 “ tall on the blade side, On the top needed to provide some sort of way to put pressure up against the board being cut to the fence. I also wanted to put pressure near the bottom too so that I was sure that the blade wouldn't wander through the cut as I pushed the board through the blade. For the top I decided to “pull” the board being cut to the fence and at the bottom I was able to “push” the board. This is a set up that allowed me to accomplish this.


resaw_jig This view shows how the top and bottom arms are adjusted by the small knobs resaw_jig_1 This how nice of a piece it will slice off
resaw_jig_2 This view shows the main fence and how it was put together. It simply clamps to the bandsaw table  with two bar style clamps. front_view_resaw_jig_4 This view shows the fence wall that has been cut to accomodate the guide bearings for the blade. It also shows the bottom jig that is also clamped to table so that the bottom of the boards won't wander while in the cut.



Through the years, I have had to fashion some of my own tools due to lack of funds or not being able to find it. I've had extreme enjoyment from designing or "revamping" a tool I may have seen somewhere. Here are a few examples of some things I've made. Clamps



These clamps were made by laminating 3/8 plywood and a hardwood maple bar. I made three different sizes to accommodate various depths: 6", 8", and 10".






  On the right is a close up of a small brace caul that I adapted to my clamps. By drilling a small hole into the clamp it allows the caul to swivel around to any angle that is needed.

  Kerfing Clamp


This is a kerfing clamp that I fashioned after I saw an aluminium one that Bob Taylor from Taylor designed and introduced at an A.S.I.A. symposium in 1995. I made mine from some extra pieces of hard sugar maple.  


To the right is a picture of a few of them. They work quite well,


MVC-012Fbut are labor-intensive to produce.

Universal bending machine



This is a jig that I built in about 1992. I bought the plans from Luthier Mercantile. It was a fun litte project and has worked well for me, though I have only bent a couple of sets of sides with it. More often, I bend sides individually with a hot pipe.







Since I seem to build "one of" custom pieces, it doesn't seem to pay for the time to build the inner mold for the bending machine. I'm sure once I've decided on a paticular style of instrument to build I will put this machine to frequent use.

Simple graduating calipers


I made this caliper after I read Bob Benidetto's book on building archtop guitars, which in my opinion is one of, if not the best book on guitar--building ever printed. He has done a exellent job with his drawings, the layout, etc. Do yourself a favor and check out this manual! His videos on the subject are equally impressive.

  Newer calipers


It does work well if it's base is set on a solid surface That is not always possible or desireable. I intend to make another, perhaps out of a little thicker plexiglass, with less of a throat because it is not needed in most cases About 9" is sufficient, where mine is about 11".  

Neck Removal Jig


This is a jig that I built after seeing a picture of this tool in the Stewart McDonald catalog. It was very easy to build. I just used some small scrap pieces of ¾” plywood that I had left over from other jigs and all the hardware was easily attainable at my local hardware store for under $20.00.




These are some of the everyday tools

you can find in most woodworking & luthier shops


drill_press This is a 5/8ths drill press that I use. The lower half has a cabinet with casters that allows me to move it around the shop fret_press This a arbor press that I have my fret cauls attatched to. For years I hammered my frets in. That's o.k., but I am very glad that I have this press now.It is so much easier, especially for bolt on necks.
16-Bandsaw This is my 16" Minimax bandsaw that I bought around 2005. I use it exclusively for resawing my tops, backs and sides. That is a 1" carbide blade on it. It has a 3hp motor that cuts through hardwoods like butter minimax-bandsaw This view shows how I have a dust collection system to it. It also has casters on the bottom that allows me to move it to different areas of the shop for different cutting applications


This is the buffer that I use to buff out my guitars. I bought this unit from Stewart Macdonald about 10 yrs ago small_belt_sander I use this tool more than any other tool that I own . I Use it for shaping all of my bone nuts,saddles bridges and countless other things. I believe this is the second one I've owned. 
12_inch_disc_sander_2 I bought this disc sander about 2 yrs. ago at Harbor Freight and it has held beyond my expectations. It has a soft start motor and very well balanced bench_side1 The bench that is in the center of the shop is my "multi tasking" tool. At this end it houses the belt sander, the bench vise on the right and about 50 clamps on and inside the doors
bench_side_2 This side has the dust collection switch and the disc sander and the extra outlets that come in handy on many occasions bench_side_34 On this end I hide the routers, the bits and more sanders and the vacuum system is hidden in there too. It helps cut down on  the noise