I was very intrigued by this shop made dovetail jig I found in a past ShopNotes Magazine, (Issue 43) so I just had to build one. The plans called for 1/2 inch phenolic for the fingers. (An alternative is to used hardwood.) I thought the phenolic was very cool so I went with that. I was not possible to purchase it locally in small quantaties so I went to my old standby…eBay. What a great material! Very hard and durable and easy to machine.
The instructions for setting up and using the jig called for using two stops, labled “A” and “B”. To be honest, I don’t understand the instructions. They are vague and ambiguous at best, IMHO. Instead, I just used the “A” stop for both sides of the board to cut the pins and then the tails in the same way. It worked great! I just really wish the setup instructions were better. I’m sure there is a good reason for the “B” stop.
In the ShopNotes plan, the author used cherry, way too precious of a species for me to use for a jig. I used 3/4 inch plywood for the base and red oak for the pressure bars and stops. I already had the red oak that purchased from Home Depot for a kitchen trim project years ago. The plywood was acutally a red oak ply that was on sale for 50% off at Lowes. I bought it 6 months ago just because it was so cheap. I also figured that plywood would be better for the base because it is so stable. It seems to me that wood movement would not be good on a precision jig.
The knobs were made from some hard maple and cherry I had left over from another project. It was already glued up in that alternating pattern. (I would not have gone through that much trouble for shop made knobs.) I cut the hexagon pattern using the method I posted in Tips and Tricks. Then I drilled a counter bore with a forstner bit a little smaller than the nut and a through hole for the threaded rod. I hammered the nut in place for a very tight fit. (This method does not work well with red oak, it split the knob in half.)