Building a Table Saw Jointer Jig

  • 01 of 10

    Build a Table Saw Jointer Jig

    Table Saw Jointer Jig
    Chris Baylor

    Wood stock, particularly the stuff that passes for dimensional lumber at modern-day home centers, isn't the most agreeable of products. It often isn't fully dried when found on the shelves, and because of the speed at which it is grown along with the methods for milling, it often warps, cups, twists or bows as it acclimates to the local climate, where you plan to use it. Since you know that you really should allow all wood stock to be used on a project to acclimatize before beginning your project, yet knowing that it may be more suited for boat-building when it's ready, what can you do?

    When you have boards that need a little straightening, the first tool of choice is the jointer. You can always use your table saw to square up the board once you have one flat, true surface, but you need the jointer to create that one surface.

    The problem is that jointers are rather pricey and bulky, not exactly suited to a small shop or working on location. Quite simply, there are more versatile tools to buy first when building a shop.

    The good news is that there's a simple jig for your table saw that can do a great deal of the work of a jointer. In this set of free woodworking plans, learn how to build a simple table saw jointer jig that will give you clean, straight edges from which to do glue-ups, make other joints or just ensure a clean edge for that piece of stock.

    Difficulty Level

    • Woodworking: Moderate to Easy
    • Finishing: None

    Time to Complete

    • 1-2 Hours

    Recommended Tools

    Materials Needed

    • 1 - 1x6 x 3' SPF Lumber
    • 1 - 12" x 4' piece of 3/4" sanded (AC) plywood
    • Tape Measure
    • 1/2" Chisel
    • Pencil
    • 2 - Quick-Release Toggle Clamps
    • 2 - 1/2" x 2" Hex Bolts with 2 flat washers, 2 lock washers, and 2 wing nuts
    • 1-1/4" Deck Screws
    • 3/4" Wood Screws
    Continue to 2 of 10 below.
  • 02 of 10

    Cutting the Guide Slots

    Cutting the Slots
    Chris Baylor

    To begin building your table saw jointer jig, you'll need a piece of 3/4" plywood measuring 12" wide by 48" in length, and a 1x6, cut to 36-inches in length. In a few steps, you'll also need a 60-inch long strip of stock ripped to dimensions of 3/4" x 3/8", but you can use pretty much any straight piece of scrap stock for this piece.

    Set up your fixed-base router with a 1/2" straight-cutting bit, and place it on your router table. Adjust the height of the bit to about 1/8" above the table surface.

    We're going to be making two slots in the 1x6, each about an inch in from the ends of the board (perpendicular to the board's long axis). Each slot will stop 3/4" from the edge of the board.

    Set your router table's fence 1" away from the edge of the bit. Next, make a pencil mark on the fence 3/4" in each direction from the edges of the bit. These marks will denote the start and stop points of the slot.

    Start up the router and ease the board down onto the bit with the leading edge at the far pencil mark. Then, guide the board along the fence until the trailing edge of the board has met the trailing pencil mark. Lift the board off the bit, and repeat for the slot on the other side. At this point, you can flip the board over and make the first slot cuts on the opposite side of the board in the same manner.

    Raise the router bit another 1/8" and repeat the four slot cuts, using the same procedure. Continue this process until both slots are cut completely through the board.

    SAFETY TIP: Be very cautious when pushing end grain against your router table's fence, as end grain can bind against the fence, which can lead to kickbacks. Work slowly and methodically, and consider dropping your router bit speed down a little bit to prevent bit burning.

    Continue to 3 of 10 below.
  • 03 of 10

    Drill the Bolt Holes

    Drill Bolt Holes
    Chris Baylor

    With the slots cut in the upper board, the next step is to cut a pair of 1/2" diameter holes in the lower plywood. Each of the two hex bolts will go through these holes, then through the slots, which will allow the jig to joint various widths of boards.

    On your shop table, position the upper board onto the lower plywood, centered on the long axis (about six inches in from each end), and 2-1/2" in from the right edge of the lower plywood.

    Then, using your pencil, make a mark through each slot at the left end of the slots onto the plywood below. Remove the upper board, and then drill a clean 1/2" hole through the plywood at each of these two pencil marks.

    Continue to 4 of 10 below.
  • 04 of 10

    Recess the Bolt Head

    Marking the Bolt Head Location
    Chris Baylor

    Turn the plywood base of the jointer jig over and insert the two bolts through the newly created 1/2" bolt holes. Using your pencil, mark the edges of the heads of the hex bolts.

    Remove the bolts, and using a 1/2" bevel-edged chisel, remove enough material to completely recess the bolt heads into the plywood base.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Assemble the Jointer Jig

    Assembling the Jointer Jig
    Chris Baylor

    With the two hex bolts recessed into the lower half of the jointer jig, turn the base over and attach the upper half of the jig by positioning the slots over the bolts. Complete the assembly by adding a flat washer, then a lock washer and a wing nut to each bolt.

    At this point, verify that the upper half will slide evenly against the lower half and that it can be securely held in a given position by tightening the wingnuts.

    Continue to 6 of 10 below.
  • 06 of 10

    Attach the Clamps

    Attach the Quick-Release Toggle Clamps
    Chris Baylor

    The next step of these free woodworking plans is to attach the quick-release toggle clamps to the upper portion of the jig.

    Position the base of each of the two clamps evenly about a 1/4" in from the right edge of the upper portion of the jointer jig, about two inches inside the slots. Attach each of the clamps with four 3/4" wood screws.

    Continue to 7 of 10 below.
  • 07 of 10

    Adjust the Clamps

    Adjusting the Clamps
    Chris Baylor

    With the quick-release toggle clamps attached to the upper portion of the table saw jointer jig, the next step is to adjust the clamps. The pads of the clamps should be adjusted so that they securely hold a piece of one-by stock (1x6, 1x8, etc.), but not be so tight against the stock that the pressure could tear the clamps off of the jig.

    With a scrap piece of stock in the clamps, adjust the clamp pads accordingly using a pair of open-end wrenches.

    Continue to 8 of 10 below.
  • 08 of 10

    Cut the Miter Strip

    Cutting the Miter Strip
    Chris Baylor

    The table saw jointer jig is nearly complete. The next step is to rip a strip of stock on your table saw five feet in length that will fit into the left miter slot of your table saw. You'll want to verify the size of the slot on your saw, but typically, the miter slot is about 3/4" wide by 3/8" (or slightly less) high. The idea is for the strip to glide smoothly with minimal play through the slot.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Attach the Miter Strip

    Attach the Miter Strip
    Chris Baylor

    The last assembly step in building the table saw jointer jig is to attach the miter strip to the base of the jig.

    As you're facing the table saw, measure from the left side of your saw blade to the right edge of the left miter slot. Add one-eighth of an inch to this measurement.

    Next, turn over the jig and measure that distance from the right-hand side of the jig. Using a straight edge, mark a parallel line at this distance from the right edge of the jig.

    Finally, position the strip (with the wide edge against the base of the jointer jig) on the edge of the line opposite the right-side of the jig, and attach to the jig with some 1-1/4" deck screws. Be sure to pre-drill and countersink the screws to be sure the heads recess and do not protrude past the face of the strip.

    Continue to 10 of 10 below.
  • 10 of 10

    Trim the Jointer Jig

    Trim the Jointer Jig
    Chris Baylor

    The last step in building the table saw jointer jig is to trim the edge of the jig.

    With the table saw blade beneath the surface of the saw, position the miter strip into the miter slot and verify that the jointer jig glides smoothly across the entire length of the table, with very minimal side-to-side play. If you experience side-to-side play, you may wish to go back a couple of steps and make a slightly tighter miter strip.

    Once you're satisfied with the movement of the jointer jig, pull the jig all the way forward (toward your body), raise the blade a little over 3/4", start the saw and trim the right-side edge of the jointer jig.

    Your table saw jointer jig is now complete. To use the jig, position a board that you want to square up into the jig, with the parts of the board that you want to remove just over the right-side edge of the jig. You may need to adjust the wing nuts to widen or narrow the jig's clamps to accommodate boards of various widths.

    With the jig adjusted and the board clamped in the desired position, raise the blade to a height just above the stock, start the saw and trim the stock. As with any table saw operation, do not stand directly behind the blade, but off to the left side, just in case of a kickback.

    To trim the opposite side of the stock (so the board's edges will be parallel), simply use the table saw with the fence. You only need the table saw jointer jig to straighten one edge of the board.

    TIP: Keep in mind that this jig, as it is configured in these plans, is for a board no longer than four feet in length. For longer boards, you may wish to make a longer jig.