This Week In the Classroom: Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It

In the spirit of my saw guide, I had the opportunity this weekend to build a few jigs for future use.   In about twenty min, here they are:

From front to back:

A bench hook, which I consider a necessity for students to learn to saw by themselves.

A wooden speed square – just a 45 deg. right triangle with a hook on the end.

A shooting board – which I have to learn to use.  It’s used to cut 45 degree angles in a piece of wood or for a block plane to smooth end-grain in mitered cuts.  I don’t know if this design is the best, but it’s a start.

If I would choose one of these for students to build, the best answer is the bench hook.  A bench hook is a large, flat board with a strip of wood attached to each end.  Seen from the side, the jig forms an S shape.  Place the hook against the workbench so one end catches the side of the bench.  Then place your piece against the strip facing up.  Begin cutting.  Like this:

The bench hook gives a nice, solid surface for a student to cut on.  It’s easy for them to build on their own with minimal adult intervention and maximum self-discovery.  I love the fact a student can lean into the hook and steady the stock to be cut.  It doesn’t have to be square to work, but it has to be square to work perfectly – my students can decide on the level of accuracy they believe they need.

The only other way I like to teach sawing is with an end vise – like this (look just behind the blade and you will see the vise):

I love how that picture came out.  It’s my new desktop background at work.