Jig for the Advent Calendar

Article - October 18, 2010

The holidays are fast approaching, and you know I can’t help but do a project or two specifically to celebrate the season. A few months ago, Roberto sent me a picture of a tree-shaped advent calendar and he was looking for a bit of advice on the construction. I knew immediately that this would be this year’s project. Incidentally, if you don’t know what an advent calendar is, check out this article. You can see the initial SketchUp diagram we are working on (thank you Aaron!) and I will have this file available for download ASAP. Not only that, but we are going to partner with Bell Forest Products to make sure even those of you who don’t have all the big milling equipment will be able to make this project.

So as I prepare for the video, I need to run through and create a prototype of the project itself, as well as the jigs and things we’ll need to make it all happen. The grid structure will be made by creating a bunch of little dados and grooves. And with so many compartments, we need to make sure this is done with absolute consistency. So I am borrowing a little inspiration from the good old box joint jig.

The jig/sled is going to be made from a fairly simple set of materials: a plywood base, a plywood fence, and two 3/4″ runners. The two thinner strips of material are being used as shims and will go under the walnut runners during the glueup. So once the runners and shims are in place, I put a bead of glue onto each runner and place the sled base down on top with the fence adding a little support. Now this glue joint isn’t going to be very secure as it is, so I had to add a little weight. My lathe extension should do the trick! And you guys say I never use my lathe!!

Now fast forward a bit and with the runners firmly glued in place, I brought the 1/2″ dado stack up into the sled and then attached the fence (with screws) so it was square to the blade kerf. I then measured, marked, and cut the slots for my two stop. I have one at 1 1/2″ and one at 2 1/2″, since both will be needed on certain pieces. Also notice that they are removable. This will allow me to easily make that first initial dado, using one as a stop and the other won’t be in the way. Pretty slick. So if all goes well, its going to be incredibly easy to knock out all these little divider dados. The sample shows the jig to be effective. The real test comes tomorrow when I make the actual grid work for the prototype. Wish me luck!

Oh and I thought you folks might like to see the little lady enjoying some time at the new desk. Anyone notice where her feet are? I guess we’ll find out just how well Domino joints hold up!


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