It’s amazing how much a couple key items can speed up the jig making process, and how much more successful they can make the end results. At Rockler, we’ve known that for decades, and we’ve made it our duty to offer the best jig-making parts and supplies available, and to invent ourselves the ones that we couldn’t find. Now, we’re proud to offer an unrivaled selection of specialized jig building hardware and materials that affordably and effectively address jig and fixture building challenges that woodworkers run into all the time. To give you an idea of what we mean, here’s a quick tour of a few of our most popular jig-making supplies.
Jigs that slide are among the most common of all shop-made gadgets. In fact, it would be safe to guess that about half of all woodworking jigs are designed to slide in a standard 3/4” x 3/8” miter track. Historically, that’s meant sawing a strip of hardwood to fit snugly – but not so snugly that it’s difficult to slide – in the track. The problem, of course, is that wood is subject to changes in shape and size with fluctuations in humidity. In other words, the perfect, easy-sliding jig that you make in the middle of February will in all likelihood let you down on a sultry July afternoon.
What’s the answer? Fortunately, it’s not to develop a complete line of “seasonal” woodworking jigs. Both the Incra Miter Slider Bar and Rockler’s own Adjustable Miter Bar are designed specifically for the purpose of building jigs that slide in a miter track. Both are predrilled for easy attachment to a sled platform or other jig part, and both have a mechanism for adjusting the bar for a snug but low-friction fit in any standard miter track. In the case of the Rockler Adjustable Miter Bar, tension-adjustable steel ball bearings – the same mechanism that takes up any slack in the miter track fit – actually promotes easy sliding.
Conveniently, the Incra miter bar also handles the other common jig/miter track interaction: using the miter track to hold something in a fixed position on the surface of a tool. Such common woodworking jigs as featherboards, stops and drop-off platforms all need to be secured to the top of woodworking machinery. But unfortunately, the bottom side of most tools just wasn’t designed for “clamp-ability”, as anyone who has ever struggled to affix a stationary jig by means of a couple of C-clamps and the uneven, inconveniently laid out underside of the average woodworking machine is aware.
A simple extra twist of the Incra Miter Slider Bar’s cam-action width adjustment mechanism, by contrast, securely locks the bar in a fixed position in the miter track. Instead of fighting to get a couple of clamps in place while simultaneously holding a jig in the correct position, with the Miter Slider, all you need is a screw driver and about two seconds to lock down a shop built featherboard, platform or other device.
The Miter slider is the thing to have if what you need is one bar that will serve both jigs that move and ones that in place. But for dedicated fixed-position duty, there’s an even more efficient and compact solution. The miter track clamping mechanism used in many Rockler “store bought” jigs serves the dual purpose of holding a device in place in a miter track and locking it down in a position perpendicular to the miter track. A few turns of a single knob, for example, locks each end of the Rockler table featherboard in position and locks it into the miter track. Available separately as the Miter Slot Hardware Kit, this handy mechanism is the perfect thing for holding shop-built featherboards, stops, and anything that requires positioning in two directions in place. And at about the price of a single drill bit, it’s also one of the best jig-making values available anywhere.
But not all jig holding and workpiece hold-down tasks can take advantage of a miter track. Holding jigs and fixtures in a vertical position, and holding jigs and parts down on tools that don’t have a miter track – such as a drill press – requires an alternate solution. For this type of workpiece and jig holding requirement, the T-bolt and T-slot method is undoubtedly the easiest and most versatile, and the main reason that Rockler T-Track, T-Bolts and Knobs, and T-Slot Router Bits have remained among our top selling products for decades.
Available in 1/2” and 3/8” thicknesses, Rockler T-Track has almost endless jig-making applications. Used in combination with any of the variously sized Rockler T-Bolts and Knobs, T-track is ideal for fence featherboards and stops, drill press fences, router table fences and sub-fences, and just about any other positionable work or jig holding device. T-track can be fit into a 3/4” wide dado for flush-with-the-surface applications, saws easily and can be easily drilled for screws. Take a quick read through our customer reviews of the extremely popular 4 Foot T-Track Kit, and you’ll get an idea of just how useful woodworkers find this stuff, and how far ranging its uses are.
To make the T-track system still more versatile, Rockler offers a number of T-track accessories that complement the basic T-slot and T-bolt setup: The T-Track Intersection Kit coupled with a pair of T-Track Hold Down Clamps make setting up a bidirectional work holding surface an easy, straightforward project. In applications where speed really matters, Rockler Cam Clamps offer a secure hold-down grip with the flip of a lever. Quick Release 5-Star Knobs bring similar efficiency to jig setups that require tightening down over a range of thicknesses, such as a vertical featherboard that frequently needs to be shimmed out to various distances from the surface fence in order to apply pressure in the most advantageous spot.
And that’s just a few of the highlights. The more you look, the more useful, hard-to-find items you’ll discover, like UHMW Plastic Jig Stock, Ratchet Handles for jigging up tight spots, and the innovative Magswitch “switchable” magnetic hold-downs. You’ll find a great selection of Toggle Clamps for fast, convenient workpiece holding, an extremely popular sub-fence solution in the Rockler Universal Fence Clamp, a number of great jigs that are practically built for you in the Incra Build-It Component System. In short, for just about any of woodworking’s many shop-made helping hands that you need to build, you’ll find something at Rockler to make the process easier, and the outcome better.