Wednesday, July 25, 2012

donkey's ear jig........

When I was making the last 3 boxes I could have used this jig to shoot my miters. The bracket foot bottoms were mitered at the corners and they were too big to do on my shooting board. I have a donkey's ear I had made for it but as usual I put it away somewhere safe and I couldn't find it. Just as well, I needed an excuse to make something.

I got the plans for this off the Cornish Workshop website run by Alf from Musings from the workbench. It's a plan by K. G. Wells and he's british. For us Americans some of the terms he uses might have to be looked up if you're not familiar with british woodworking terms. Such as block board. I had to to google this one to confirm that it's british for lumber core plywood. He states a pretty reason for using it over plywood so that's what I'll use too.

the instructions aren't extensive but they are sufficient to make the jig
determining how big my 45 has to be based on my shooter
top bearing and two end stops
I cut these on the table saw. My reasoning is I am going to be referencing off of these so I want them as dead nuts as possible.  Mr Starrett says they are 45 degrees so I know I am starting where I should. My hand skills aren't up to the task of doing it by hand.
beveling the top guide
quick and easy - used the #7, #4, and #80
The plans don't give any dimensions for doing this but Mr Wells states that it may be tapered in thickness to give a neater appearance. I wanted the neater appearance so I tapered away.

#80 scraper
The grain reverses on this end of the bearer. The #4 cleaned up some of it but not all. The scraper got rid of the last bits with a couple of swipes.

my block board
Lowes or Home depot didn't have any lumber core (block board) plywood but they did have this. I saw it on my way out and after looking it over decided it's the closest I'll get to lumber core today. It's an 11 1/2" wide by 48" long oak stair tread from China. It has a bullnose applied to the front and fairly thick oak veneer applied over strips of wood on the top and bottom. 

The cost was $26.40 to walk out the door with it. What you can see on the top looks like red oak to me. The strips of wood in middle I don't know what they are. In this piece they are a greenish brown color and the strips  appear to be flatsawn. 

There were other colors in the pile of treads and what struck me was how flat and straight they were. I dug through the pile and all I saw were basically the same quality. I haven't been impressed with a lot of the crappola I see marked made in China but this might sway me a tad.

Ugh! I tried
I laid out the dadoes for the end stops and started to chop them out. I was planning on using my hand router to get a consistent depth but gave up. I routed out the majority of the waste with the plugged in router. I left my marking gauge lines with the knife walls and finished up by chiseling to them.

that's tight
 I'm holding the jig up by the end stops. I know I couldn't have gotten this tight of a fit with the plugged in router. I did these dadoes  partly the way Paul Sellers showed me in his DVD Artisan series. I still might use the plugged router but I will start and mark the dado the way Paul Sellers does. This is an awesome fit for a dado by me and it's the way I'll try to do them from now on.

routed a 1/8" groove 3/16" deep for the vee groove
top bearer doing double duty
I am making a vee groove for the shooter to ride in for when I shoot a miter. The top bearer is perfect for getting the this groove angle at 45 degrees. I did the outside of the groove with the chisel and by eye. This part of the vee doesn't have to be an exact 45. I made sure this part was a tad over 45.

need some scraps to test my jig out
test scraps
I cut these scraps a little off 45. The miter saw went through the oak and left a silky smooth miter. The pine miters are total crappola. They are rough and ragged out and have tons of fuzz on the exit side. Totally different from what I got on the oak.

crappy pine cuts - nice ready to use oak miter
pine is much better looking
I am going to have to practice a tad more with this. You can see on the oak that my shooter is not cutting the very top of the miter. Same thing with the crappy pine too. I'll have to fiddle with the blade projection and angle until I'm cutting the whole face.

my donkey's ear
This is one heavy jig. Moving this around for forty hours a week and I would weigh what I did when I left the Navy. I wasn't going to put a vise block on it because I thought I would pinch it between two bench dogs. That worked alright for the pine but the oak took the ball and went home. The force I was using to shoot the oak was pulling the jig right out of the dogs.

I'll have to think on that but in the end I'll think I'll be adding it. I'll play with this some more and I'm sure that once I get the shooter set right, I'll be shaving perfect miters.

accidental woodworker


  1. Hi Ralph,
    Nice job. I just finished the same shooting board from the same original source. I'm not at all comfortable with hand planes yet, but like you am moving more toward hand tools rather than power tools.
    I cut the end pieces on my table saw and measured them with a protractor. They seemed to be nearly perfect. I wanted to tune them up using a hand plane, but couldn't figure out how to plane them such that I didn't make them worse.
    Did you tweak your 45 degree cuts by any chance. And if you used a plane how did you do it?


  2. Hi Gerry,
    I cut the miters on my tablesaw. I spent a lot of time fussing with that cut and checking it with my combo square. Once I got each arm at a perfect 45 and the two together formed a perfect 90 I went with them.
    First off I made this jig specifically to be used my LN 51 and I changed a few dimensions from the plans to account for that.
    If I need to tweak the 45 I use folded paper or thin cardboard - I like the cardboard used for the backs of writing pads.
    I also added the cleat so I could put in my leg vise.

  3. Hi again Gerry,
    forgot to tell you about planing. I do it with a light of a touch and a shallow iron setting.
    If I have a gross amount I'll start heavy but finessing is done with a sharp iron (always touch it up before doing this), a shallow setting, and a light touch.

  4. Not my idea, but it's a great jig when it's needed.