Category Archives: Jigs

Bandsaw Mitre-sled

I am in the process of building a series of wooden handplanes. Due to the fact that I cannot buy timber in dimensions that would allow construction from a single piece, I have to follow the method of laminating made famous by James Krenov. Unfortunately, this necessitates a fairly functional bandsaw given the dimensions of these planes. My bandsaw is of a Chinese persuasion that few people peregrinating the so called western world (including myself) would have heard of before. I always though that was how a bandsaw should look like as I have never seen another until I started reading a bit more about woodwork.

Every expert these days seems to advocate for using the bandsaw in a way that the table saw used to be in years gone by. I first thought they were mad as my bandsaw could not even cut a smooth curve leave alone rip and re-saw and all these absurd new tasks they suggested should be done with it. Then I had a look at how these bandsaws looked like and realised that they were quite a bit different to mine. In the first place, the operators actually tuned the contraption before going to war with it. I did not even know that it could be tuned. I then watched a video by Michael Fortune on how to do this. It is on the Fine Woodworking website (member’s section if I remember correctly).

Anyway, this is all a bit besides the point. Point is, I spent a significant part of a week on rehabilitating my bandsaw, which included the process of building this jig that I call a “Bandsaw Mitre-sled”. I plan to write a post on the actual rehab process of the bandsaw in the near future.

The owner of a local tool shop by the name of Martin Mozny (Windhoek Tool Centre) gave me a whole heap of Festool equipment that was apparently used for demonstrations and therefore not in a condition to be sold as new. Despite this the stuff is in top order, especially for building jigs. While contemplating the design of this jig I consulted the container that house the orphan Festool bits and pieces. I considered both of the parts in the below pictures, but decided to rather use another.


Here you can see the the mitre gauge I decided on together with a piece of scrap plywood that would become the main parts of the jig.


Next I found some scrap pine and swarthout (not in the picture) to form the edges/aprons. A strip of Harde Peer left over from another job was shaped first on the table saw, then the thicknesser and finally handplaned to fit perfectly in the channel/dado in the bandsaw table.


Here you can see how I have set up a temporary fence to drill the holes for attaching the strip of Harde Peer and the Festool mitre gauge. The strip was then glued and screwed to the plywood.


In the pictures below you can see the profile of the aluminum arm of the mitre gauge. The bottom of the profile is fairly thick, which allowed me to drill 5 mm holes in order to cut thread for a 6 mm bolt.


Here you can see how I drilled the holes on the drill press …


… and cutting the thread.


The mitre gauge was then fixed to the plywood with three countersink bolts.


As you can see these bits of scrap pine has done duty in several other incarnations. The swarthout in the centre had less battle scars. I then processed these pieces to assume the same dimensions.


In the first picture below you can see how I removed a small area of the swarthout to accept the harde peer strip. I also used dividers to quickly mark out all the screw holes that needed to be drilled in the plywood to attach the sides/aprons.


After drilling the mentioned holes I clamped the sides and plywood into place as shown. In the third picture you can see how useful a cuff can be to restrict the depth of the pilot hole to exactly the length of the screw.


The next step was to tidy up the wooden parts of the jig. Yes, you are right I did remove the mitre gauge to make this a bit easier. You can also see how handy my “Proletarian Sanding” Contrivances are in these situations. You will find an entire post devoted to the building of these sanding planes, under the category Handtools.


The mitre gauge goes back and the jig is ready to cut the zero clearance curve …


… like so …


The first cut I made using this jig was a 51º bedding angle on a blank meant to become a small smoothing plane. It was made up of Beech with an Ysterhout sole. One unexpected advantage of this jig I discovered was that the zero clearance curve tells you exactly where the cut will be made. If for example you mark it out on the stock as I did on the plane blank, it becomes extremely easy to position the stock for a perfect cut …


… as shown in the pictures below.


My version of Deneb’s sharpening jig

I must say that I have to agree with all those experts (not that I am one of them) who say that hand tools become gratifying to work with when they are sharp. I heard and read this all over the show, which steered me towards a DVD on sharpening by David Charlesworth. The official title is “Plane Sharpening” and I got mine from Lie-Nielsen. This is highly recommended for anyone who likes cerebral woodworking and attention to detail. David is somewhat dry as most English gentlemen tend to be, but nonetheless a real icon to me.

To cut a long story short, after watching this DVD 5 or 6 times I decided to acquire all the merchandise needed to become a sharpening maestro. I bought everything from Lie-Nielsen and while it traveled for forty days and forty nights across the Atlantic, I researched the different jig-setups that could aid in my new found forte. You will probably think that I am biased (possibly because I am), but the setup that made most sense to me was Deneb Puchalski’s, which you can find on the Lie-Nielsen website in pdf format. (check out and for more useful information)

In the picture below you can see where I started with the jig. When I made this sharpening jig, the best plywood I could find was something they call shudder board in these parts. It’s that nasty stuff they use to build boxes in order to cast concrete slabs. Since then I have heard of a guy who sells better stuff, but have not managed to see it yet. Anyway, the mentioned shudder board warps more often than Michael Jackson did in one of his music videos. Therefore I glued a layer of hardboard and a layer of 6 mm plywood to it. The hardboard has a hardwearing white layer that seems water resistant on it’s smooth surface.


In the picture below you can see two of the most crucial appurtenances when it comes to sharpening. These are Ohishi Japanese waterstones as available from Lie-Nielsen. The grey stone is a 1000 grid (excellent for honing) and the white stone a 10 000 grid stone (splendiferous for polishing). These work like a charm for me. In the picture on the right you can see the side clamping honing guide that is apparently a cheap rip-off the original Eclipse version.


I used some scrap Blackwood (grown in the South Africa for ages but originally from Oz) to frame the plywood after gluing some hardboard (also known as Masonite) to the working surface. You can also see the way I decided to fix the jig to the assembly table. I took advantage of the ease of using quick release levers modified slightly to slot into the T-channel on the side of the table. This speeds up the setting up of my sharpening station.


David Charlesworth and most of the other authorities use only water to fix the wet-and-dry sandpaper to the glass, but like most woodworkers I love an overkill. Therefore I decided to install two clamping cauls on the sides of the glass. These clamp down by means of wing-nuts on top of 6 mm plywood strips that sits flush with the glass. The glass area is meant to be used with sandpaper for the more aggressive grinding of primary bevels and regular flattening of waterstones. The Sketchup drawings explain what I mean with primary bevel on a blade.

100_1210Blade bevels.Blade bevels 2.IMG_6749IMG_6750

Next, I moved on to setting up stops at various distances from the edge of the jig corresponding to all the different angles I need to hone/grind blades at. It creates totally repeatable angles for each blade, provided that you have a system to know which angle you used the previous time. I used the setup below to establish the different projection distances for each angle, creeping up by 2-3° at a time. The plane blade is set against the scrap of wood setup at 90° to the protractor at the correct projection distance for each angle and then transfered to the jig.


In the pictures below you can see how I installed the stopblocks at the various different distances from the edge. Each stop block has the angle it corresponds to noted in black and the actual distance from the edge in millimeters noted in green. In the end (so far, as I plan to add a few more steep angles once I manage to modify the honing guide) the jig sported stopblocks ranging in steps of 2-3° from 23-45°.


Next the hardwood were varnished to stop the worst of the water that is inevitable during sharpening activities.



In the next few pictures you can see how I write the angles of the various bevels (as explained earlier) for the different blades I sharpen on the jig for easy reference. A “bytel” is a chisel in Afrikaans.


In the final pictures you can see the final product as I am using it for now. Please note the area designated to holding the waterstones wedged in tight with two small hardwood wedges. Also the Tupperware® container were my priced Ohishi stones swim in permanently to keep them ready for action. You will also see the telltale slurry on the sandpaper revealing that I flattened the white stone immediately before use.