While I was working on a tea caddy for an upcoming 360 Woodworking class, I decided to knock out a simple, table saw jig to cut miters on small parts. Normally, I use a miter saw for this work, but with the pieces being small I opted to work on a machine that allowed an easy line of sight at my fingers and hands. Plus, I could install and use a super-thin 7-1/4″ saw blade. (You can build this jig for use with a full-thickness blade, too.)
To begin, select a piece of scrap plywood (3/4″), or cut a small piece about 14″ square. Also, mill a couple of runners to fit accurately in your miter gauge slots – I used scraps of quartersawn white oak because it’s a stable, hard wood. You want the runners to fit, but not be sloppy. Look for them to slide effortlessly in the slots
Position the runners in the two slots so that the ends are hanging off the edge of your saw, place your plywood on top of the runners and square to your saw’s fence and pinch things tight with a couple of spring clamps. Grab a pinner and attach the runners to the plywood.
Remove the spring clamps and slide the mash-up to the outfeed side of your saw so that the ends are just hanging off the edge of the table. Clamp and pin the runners again, locking them into place. Remove the jig from the saw, flip it over and drive a few additional pins through the runners for a good hold, then test the jig’s ride through the miter slots. You may need to scrap the runner’s sides and bit, or add wax to make the ride smooth and effortless.
When the fit and ride are good, make a cut into the jig about 4″ in length. To lay in lines for your fences, use a combination square and pencil. Position the square to intersect at the end of your cut then draw a line. Flip the square and lay in a second line that is 90° to the first. The idea is to get the lines and fences set as accurate as possible.
With your lines in place, cut a couple of 1-1/4″-wide fence pieces. You can use whatever you have on hand, but I like plywood for this because it’s stable. Miter one end of your fences at your miter saw just so they fit closely to your cut line as you set them to the layout lines.
Position one fence, pin it down to the jig body then cut the mitered end using the jig. Slip the second fence to the jig, attach it at the line and make another cut to accurately trim the end. Your jig is now ready to use.
Looking for more table saw jig information? Check out these links: