Woodworking jigs are an essential part of any woodworking shop. They are great for repetitive tasks in many projects and make the more difficult much easier and faster to complete. Jigs are not expensive, but making them from scrap wood is even cheaper. There are a variety of jigs available, and the type you need depends on the projects you like to do.
Dovetail jigs help make dovetail joints accurately and can be purchased fairly inexpensively. Of course, you can make your own dovetail jig. Templates are available on the internet or in most stores selling woodworking supplies. If you plan to make your own jigs, you will want to pick up a dovetail saw or a dovetail bit for your router. Many templates allow you to make up to twelve different sizes of jigs. Templates also allow you to make a variety of spaced or fixed dovetails for a wide range of products, such as cabinets and drawers. Some kits come with bits and templates which can save you money as compared to purchasing them separately.
Dovetail saws are great tools for cutting dovetails and fine joints for other projects. Blades on dovetail saws are thicker than on others and provide greater accuracy when cutting joints. It is important to purchase quality tools for cutting tight joints. Fourteen to seventeen points per inch is a good guideline to look for in quality saws.
Another type is the dowel jig which is used to make consistent, quality dowels. A self centering jig provides better accuracy for those times when you are using thick wood. Sizes of dowel jigs vary from one-quarter to one-half inch. Especially if you are not sure what size you need, purchasing a complete kit with several hundred dowels in a variety of sizes might be a good choice.
Kreg jigs are a great jig for cabinet making. Accurately positioned slides are necessary for the drawer to move smoothly. A benefit of kreg jigs is that you do not need to measure and mark the spaces for the drawer slides. Kreg jigs make it much easier to mount drawer slides, especially for its low cost and versatility.
Making your own jigs saves money, particularly in supplies. You can just use scrap pieces of plywood. If you plan to re-use the jigs, you may want to use a stronger wood. Otherwise, since jigs are only used for one project, there is little reason to spend a lot on materials. Plywood should suffice. Instructions on making jigs can be found in magazines or books or on the internet. You can photocopy or print the instructions for future use.