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Phil Halliday

The Workshop

Adjustable Hexagon Jig

woodwork jig to cut hexagons

We work on quite a few projects that require us to cut multiple accurate hexagons with minimum waste, the first one we made was for a fixed size which worked fine but it was a lot of hassle to change the size when we needed to so we set about creating an adjustable jig for the bandsaw.

bandsaw-hexagon-jig
Bandsaw Hexagon Jig

This basic guide on how to make this jig applies to both the tablesaw version and the bandsaw version we have used the tablesaw for this because we had not got a jig for it

Materials

As far as materials go we used what we had lying around but below is a short list of what we used

  • a board big enough to serve as a base for your saw, plywood or mdf is fine
  • 1 or two lengths of hardwood or plastic to serve as runners for your mitre slot
  • 12mm ish plywood or mdf to serve as the fence and track
  • a length of T track (this is purely optional but does not wear as much as forming the slot with wood
  • 6mm perspex (again optional you could use wood and get the same result)
  • A couple of pinch clamps for T track (again they can be made from wood or plastic)

The Base

To construct the base first cut you board to fit your saw, then cut some runners to fit your mitre slots these can be made with either a hardwood or plastic and need to be tight enough so not to rattle from side to side but not so tight the bind as you run them along you mitre slot, they also need to fit just below the surface of your saw.

you will need one or two of these depending on your saw if you can use two slots it is better for accuracy.

Fitting these is relatively simple place a few washers that are the same thickness in your mitre slot these need to be thick enough to raise your runner just above your saw table, fit your runners into you mitre slots and put a few drops of wood glue on the top surface of the runners no too much as you don’t want any squeeze out using you fence as a guide place you base board on top of the runners and put a weight on top of it and leave until the glue cures.

When fitting the base try to go as far left of your blade as you slots allow because anything right of the blade will not be used for cutting

Once the glue has cured remove the jig from the saw and turn it upside down and secure in place with screws remember to countersink these as they need to be just below the surface. before going any further its good practice to check the fit sand them lightly until they run smoothly in your slot and then apply some wax to the runners this will help them slide freely in the slot

The Fence

At this point the best way to progress is to place you base on your saw located in the mitre slot and make a cut to roughly the center of the board, we can then use this cut to set the correct angle for the fence

The correct angle for cutting hexagons is 60 Degrees

First I secured the left hand side of the T track to the base and then using a digital angle gauge I rotated the T track until it matched the angle and then secured the T track along its length ,

Don’t worry too much if you don’t have an angle gauge as this can be done using a protractor either way it is very important to take your time and get the angle correct.

if you are not using T track then simply set the front board at the correct angle and then set a second board 19 mm behind the front board to form a slot.

The next stage for me was fitting the front or waste board, in my case it is a 50 mm wide strip of 12 mm plywood this just gets screwed down in front of the T track ensuring you do not place any screws in the path of the blade.

At this point we are pretty much done with the base, I added more boarding behind the T track for attaching a self adhesive tape measure to, and at some point I will route a handle into its surface to make it easier to pull back the jig after making a cut.

The completed Base

The Fence

This consists of another piece of plywood the same thickness as the waste board. The dimensions of which will vary from jig to jig, This needs to be cut with a right angle on one end the other end is down to personal preference, this I have secured this to the T Track using a 6 mm piece of perspex ( this could be any thickness of wood or rigid plastic you may have to hand ) again the critical point is the angle this needs to be at 90 Degrees to the waste board

The perspex is secured to the T track using pinch clamps I have cut out a little pointer on the end of the perspex to work with the self adhesive tape to be fitted after I have done a few test cuts,

Note: Its better to fit the perspex or wood to the t track before screwing it to the Plywood that way you can correct any error you may have got when drilling the holes for the clamp screws.

Using the jig

To use this jig and not get a lot of waste we create blanks sized to suit the hexagon required, for example if we want to cut a hexagon with a side length of 50 mm we cut a blank that is 100 mm long by 86.6 mm wide ( see downloadable table for more sizes )

Once you have created the blank we need to setup the jig to cut that blank the easiest way I have found to date is to draw a line longways down the center of the blank, in the above example that would be at 43.3 mm.

then place the blank on the jig and slide it towards the blade ( with the machine switched off! ) until the inside edge of the cut slot in the base lines up with the center line on the blank, secure the locking screws on the T track we then proceed to make the first cut, once this has been done we flip the blank so that the bottom of the blank now become the top and we make the second cut once completed we again flip the blank but this time end to end so the uncut end faces the blade again we make the two cuts flipping it upside down halfway through.

at this point we should have a hexagon but I would measure the sides to ensure they are indeed 50 mm, quite often you will have to adjust the jig a couple of times until you get the correct measurement.

for me at this point I will be setting my self adhesive tape in place with the pointer pointing to the 100 mm mark from that point on you can use the tape measure on the jig for set up.

Afterthoughts

Not a fantastic how to but I hope it is enough for people to build their own I will be adding to and editing this guide over the next few days and I will upload a video of the jig in use,

On this version I will be adding a toggle clamp to secure the work piece although I have found it is not required when using the other jig on the bandsaw.

Feel free to leave me a comment on your thoughts on this, or any suggestions on how it could be improved.

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Workshop Resources

Hexagon Calculator

This is a great little app for calculating the size of material whe you need to create a hexagon of a particular size, just enter the dimension you know and it will calculate the remainder.

This is especially useful for working out material size needed when making multiples to reduce waste.

for example:-

if we need to create a hexagon with a side length of 40mm we would use the calculator to work out we need a piece of material 69.28 mm wide ( flat to flat) by 80 mm long (point to point), then to finish the hexagon we just make two cuts at each end at 60 degrees.

Hexagon Calculator

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The Workshop

Woodwork Bench Vise From Scrap

Homemade woodwork bench vise
Home made wood work vise

I have needed a vise for woodwork for sometime and having made a new bench I thought it was time to take a look at what I could make without spending too much.

this may not be the best of guides as I lost a lot of the pictures that should have been included but you should get the idea

1: Materials

  • Two Lengths of Hardwood for the jaws
  • two lengths of hardwood for the mounts
  • vise screws,handles and threaded fittings from a scrap workmate
  • two lengths of steel bar diameter to suit the vise (stainless steel would be better)
  • two metal pieces of flat metal (steel or aluminium is fine)
  • two blots that fit the threaded fittings from the workmate ( mine were 8 mm)
  • screws to mount the vise and fit the metal plates

2: Joints and Layout

the first step is to decide what joint to use to join the mounts to the rear or fixed jaw, this could be a halflap joint or as in my example a mortise and tenon joint.

I started this by creating a tenon on both the mounting pieces, followed by marking the mortise on the fixed jaw so that the top of the jaw would be flush with the top of the bench, while marking this out it’s a good idea to extend the mortise center line passed the mortise a little way towards the center so the holes for the vise screw are centered with the mounts.

With the mortises cut to fit the tenons we need to drill the two holes for the vise screws to pass through, you will need to measure the fittings to find the center for the hole as they vary between brands.

with the holes in the fixed jaw drilled clamp the front jaw to the fixed jaw and drill the front jaw through the fixed jaw so the holes align.

once drilled remove from the fixed jaw and enlarge the holes so the flared section of the vise screw can pass through comfortably (don’t make it too tight or the flared section of the vise screw will bind against the jaw during operation).

3: Metal Plates and Fittings

it’s now time to turn our attention to the fittings.

for the vise to operate we need two metal plates with one hole in the center for the vise screw to pass through and at least 2 mounting holes, these can be either mounted on the front of the vise or recessed so the plate is flush with the front surface of the vise depending on your personal choice, I chose to recess mine but could have done a better job of it.

With the metal plates fitted, and the mounts push fitted into the mortises put the vise screws through the fixed jaw and wind the vise screws all the way into the threaded fittings removed from the workmate, then place your front jaw in position, you should now be able to mark the center line for the fixing bolt through the rear mount.

at this point once assembled you would have a working vise but it would bind up very easy and the jaws would not stay inline very well, to combat this I added the two steel bars to act as guides the ones i chose to use were 16 mm plain steel which used to be a axle taken from an old sack truck (stainless steel would be better), these i have placed on the outer edges of the vise with one end fixed to the front jaw using epoxy resin and the other end passing through the fixed jaw

4: Assembly

with all the parts made it’s time to assemble

Apply you preferred wood glue to the tenons of the mounts and fit to the fixed jaw once dry you can further reinforce the joint by adding dowels from the bottom should you choose

fix the guide bars to the front jaw using epoxy resin and leave to cure, once cured (usually over night) you can complete the assembly of the vise then all’s left to do is apply your favourite finish and fit to your bench

5: Improvements

bearing

While this vise is working very well for me I think it could open and close a little smoother so I have ordered some bearings as in the picture above these are used on cnc machines and can be picked up from ebay quite cheaply, these I will fit them into the fixed jaw for the guide bars to pass through.

6: Conclusion

My Workbench

Once again my apologies for the lack of pictures but I hope this helps someone to build their own.

The hardwood used in this project was from a machine pallet, the vise screws were from an old workmate and the guide bars were an axle from a sack truck so this cost me nothing to build and 100% recycled

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The Workshop

Easy Home made T slots for jigs

Home made T slot

Easy Homemade T-Slot for jigs.

 

I started to make a new small cross cut sled for my table saw the other day and decided to make the t slot directly in the fence rather than buying a aluminium one,

with that in mind I decided to write this little article to show people just how easy they are to make. this method can be used to make slots in jigs or to make a track to install in a jig.

(more…)

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The Workshop

The building of the workshop

workshop with window frames fitted

We all have to start somewhere.

For the workshop we started as most projects do with a budget you know that amount of money you have to do the job that is always that little bit less than you need, in our case it limited the size of the workshop to 20′ long x 12′ wide and a ceiling height 8′ being 6 foot 5 I did not want a low ceiling.

(more…)

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