As part of the construction of the shop sign project, I found myself needing to be able to produce repeatable, accurate tenons.
My preferred tool to use is my table saw. I have a DeWalt DWE7491RS which is ideal for my current shop situation. It is quite accurate, has a great fence and I have a super-accurate cross-cut sled (verified to be accurate to 90 degrees within .0006 over 42 inches).
So, I could design my own, which I really enjoy doing, or see what others have done. Luckily for me, my friend Tamar at 3×3 Custom released a video featuring a DIY version of an adjustable tenoning jig. She has an earlier model of my table saw, so I was confident the dimensions would work. Since I am feeling a bit of a time crunch, I decided to use her design.
Tamar has full instructions and a downloadable PDF with the dimensions she used as well. There is also a link to a YouTube video where she shows how she built it. All around a great job! There is no reason for me to go into the details here.
The thing is, she also has a commercial jig which costs a couple of hundred dollars, so the comfort and final finish wasn’t as important to her. It was about the process and providing the design. So, I had a couple of areas to “make it my own”.
My objectives were to build it using some leftover 3/4 maple plywood from my shop cabinet build and finish it with a few coats of sprayed polyurethane. I also wanted a more comfortable and functional handle.
The first objective was easy enough. I had the materials.
For the second, I had to decide what I wanted to do here. I looked around my shop and tried to figure out what the most comfortable/ergonomic handle was on all of my tools. I decided it was my #4 Stanley hand plane. The upright design is well suited for forward push strokes as well as maintaining full control.
After a brief search, I discovered that Lee Valley has a variety of hand plane tote templates available for download! Thank you Lee Valley!
For both the adjusting slot in the jig, as well as the tote, I needed a way to cut them out. I don’t currently own a bandsaw. For the adjustment slot, the logical choice would be a circle cutting jig for the trim router, which I do have. Tamar used a jigsaw to show it could be done. I could have used a jigsaw for the tote as well. However…
I also know that I need practice on the scroll saw. I came to own a DeWalt DW788 and stand for a song via a co-worker. The last time I used a scroll saw was over 30 years ago. It was a terrible machine and I had little patience. Bad combination. Needless to say, I’m pretty unskilled here. So, I cut the adjustment slot and the tote out using the scroll saw. I did practice on some scrap plywood first.. just to get my ‘saw legs’ about me.
I decided I wanted to contour the tote. To add finger swells, I used my Dremel rotary tool along with a sanding drum attachment. I simply gripped the tote with my hand, lifted one finger at a time, and marked the center-line of where my fingers hit the wood with a pencil, then ground away the wood until it felt right.
For assembly, pre-drilled and counter-sunk the holes, then I used deck screws because they are strong, easy to drive, and I have a lot of them. After assembling, and making sure everything functioned well on the saw, I disassembled everything, sanded up through 220 grit and ultimately shot 4 coats of water-based poly.
I think the jig turned out great!
Let me know if you have any questions and be sure you go follow Tamar on YourTube and Instagram!