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    Refinement to a simple jig

    I loved seeing my jig design for cutting miter spline slots used in making Ed Pirnik's Beaufiful Recipe Box With Mitered Corners. 

    I keep discovering new things, and I thought I would share my very latest refinement of this jig, as it will help those making Ed's box or one like it. I wanted a way to simplify the placement of the box on the body of the jig, so I could speed up the process for my students when I teach box making. Normally, setting up to make the cuts is a time consuming practice and I never want to see my students standing in line when there is box making to be done.

    The first time I tested this new refinement with students was two weeks ago when I taught a hands-on box makng class at the Kansas City Woodworker's Guild. The students really got the system and it worked. The refinement doesn't really change anything on the jig itself or how it is made, but involves how the box is aligned in position on the jig. Instead of clamping a piece of wood to the jig to control the position of the box, I now just use various blocks of wood to hold the box at various distances from the guide board.  Put a block in place against the guide piece and it holds the box in exact position for the cut.This simple system allows me to make repeat cuts or even go back and cut again in the exact same place if necessary.  You can cut the blocks to whatever lengths you want to position the spline cuts. It also makes a good production system, as you can make a box one week and then come back the next to make another just like it by using the smae blocks. To use it, you just lay the block in place, slide the box against it, nest the box in the V of the jig,  held in position against the block, and make cuts at each corner. Then use the next length block to make the next set of cuts. I have found that this makes things so much easier. No clamps to adjust, and no chance of a clamp slipping or sliding out of position as it is tightened. The blocks provide a very firm stop, better and quicker than clamps.

    You will also notice the thin (1/8 in.) plywood resting on the body of the jig in the photo above. This piece of plywood is placed in the V on the outfeed side of the jig to vary the depth of cut so that not all splines need to be cut to the same depth, and without raising or lowering the height of the saw. Remove the ply shim to cut deep, or put it in place to cut a bit shallow. This allows me to arrange  the splines in an even more interesting pattern with some being cut deep and some not so. You can use one or more thickness of plywood to lift the position of the box, thus shortening the depth of the spline cut.  You will notice that putting shim stock on one side of the V lifts the box a bit. Putting it on both sides lifts even more, so you have options beyond just those  presented by the thickness of your shim stock.This makes for a very attractive effect as shown on the finshed box which will be featured in an upcoming article in Fine Woodworking.