November 6, 2009

Squaring Up Assembly Jig

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2009

Yet, once more you see a jig made out of odds and ends of leftover small pieces of materials from my workshop and you will keep on seeing them. It is the green thing to do, recycling at its best and it saves money.

I needed to square up and assemble the pieces of windows. The two white melamine strips are glued and tacked to a piece of plywood. They did not need to be melamine, its just what was handy in my scrap box today.  They are nicely square at 90 degrees, that is what is important, that the edges be 90 degrees so if I had to clamp upright pieces against them my parts would sit square to the base. I used a large, professional quality, drafting triangle to help align that corner.  That drafting triangle helps me setup all kinds of fixture and fences for dollhouse work. Glue and tack one strip to the plywood, then put glue on the second and using the drafting triangle as a guide clamp it and let it dry. You can add brads after it dries if you think they are needed.  One caution sometimes glue lets pieces that are clamped creep out of position so keep an eye on it and while it is still wet gently tap it back where it belongs. A fast way to get rid of glue creep is to rub the two glued surfaces together, the friction heats the glue so that it kicks off more quickly. A thin layer of glue evenly spread is better than a thick layer because it won't tend to creep. That is important to remember when you assemble wood pieces.

To clamp the pieces into the corner I use more cut off pieces of wood to the push the window components into that squared up corner.  Those pieces also need to be nice and square. One of the pieces of wood I grabbed is my push stick for the small table saw. It fit in there and why cut something when it was right by my hand at the right time? It will go right back to being a push stick shortly. Did it surprise you to see me using those big clamps to do a delicate glue-up task? They don't have to touch the miniatures, they are simply holding the pieces that are applying the gentle pressure on my window parts.

This is jig building at its most basic for a very basic and frequently required task.  Part of the reason for creating this blog is to show some of the behind the scenes dollhouse building work that is not in books or magazines. If you want to start building and don't have a background in making things it helps to watch over someones shoulder now and again. Just remember there are hundreds of ways of doing the same thing. I don't use the same way all the time, it varies depending on my mood, materials on hand and if I am in the mood to play engineer or mad scientist and try something new.

Proxxon Miter Saw Fence

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2009

The Proxxon KGS80 Miter Saw is a very nice size for many task when scratch building a dollhouse. Not for the tiny strip wood pieces but great for things like window and door frames, flooring strips and such. However as it is out of the box it is going to launch any small pieces you cut all the way across the room. It is a powerful saw for its size. Good luck finding anything small in the back room of my workshop and of course the parts can be damaged by the journey and landing.

To make repetitive cuts of strips of wood an easier task I built a fence out of hardwood. Now my cut off pieces stay right there on the fence and I don't have to go hunting for them. My custom fence is sized to fit into the existing clamp on the saw. I did not want to modify the miter saw as it is very good for cutting pieces of non ferrous metals in it's standard configuration. The fence is a piece of 3/4" thick poplar wood that is cut to fit into the clamp opening. It is a little tricky to fit the fence in under the motor and on into the clamp, you will have to mess around with the design making adjustments as you go. Do worry a great deal about getting the fence on the back nice and square to the saw blade so it makes perfect 90 degree cut.

I had not used the saw for a while as I knocked off part of the back fence during the move last year. But since I had been ripping strips of hardwood and had plenty of extra it was a quick repair with that rubbery superglue. Now I am back in action again, whew, that feels good. I really like this saw.

If you are going to make a setup like this for your saw keep in mind that the rear wood fence needs to be short enough for the motor of the saw to come all the way down. Look at the photo, you will see the approximate height you need.

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2009

I made my fence base so it extended out further to the left so I can clamp on stop blocks. A long stop block will reach in quite a ways towards the center.

It is very important for your safety that you need to know the correct way to use miter saws with stops. You must secure the wood you are cutting some place between the saw blade and the stop block. If you don't the wood will get into a pinching situation and the part can be damaged and so can you.  Sometimes there is room for your fingers to do the clamping but don't take foolish risks. The eraser end of a pencil gets where fingers won't but sometimes even that is too big.  You can make other kinds of  custom hold down pieces as needed. When it is impossible to get in there with any kind of a clamp make a removable stop. Secure the work on the other side of the blade instead where you can get a grip on it.

You can find out more information on the Proxxon KGS80 by clicking "HERE"