James Hamilton, a.k.a. Stumpy Nubs, solves woodworking problems in unique ways through his popular videos, creations, and articles at stumpynubs.com

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Humans have been making their own tools since the beginning of time. We are creative beings with a desire to make new things, and devise tools to build those things easier, faster, and better. That drive toward innovation is especially strong in some of us. We are the jig makers.

Stretch your budget 

I didn't set out to become a jig maker; I just wanted a new tool. But I remember fighting back the dry heaves as I contemplated maxing out my credit card on a fancy new whatnot. That's when it hit me: Why not make my own? The $20 bill in my wallet wouldn't go far in the tool store, but back at the shop I had some wood scraps, a little hardware, and a fair amount of "I've got nothing better to do." Suddenly, I was living like a king in my own workshop!

When you train yourself to reach for the sketch pad ahead of the credit card, you're no longer limited by your budget. That router lift you've always wanted, the overpriced drill-press table, everything your spouse forbade you to spend money on is now within your reach. And as your homemade tool collection grows, your woodworking becomes more cost-efficient as well, with less waste and time spent.

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Commercial router-lift systems can cost several hundred dollars. Choose to make it yourself and you might spend several dozens of dollars instead.

Challenge yourself, impress your friends 

As I sat on my bench admiring my fledgling fiefdom of wooden fixtures, I wondered just how far this could be pushed. Was it possible to make real, precision tools from wood? I was determined to find out.

You'll be amazed by the tools that come out of a little ingenuity and some basic hardware. Add extruded aluminum T-track, threaded rod, and 14 "-20 knobs to your kit, and the possibilities become nearly endless.

I built a fully functional dovetail jig and a micro-adjustable box-joint machine. Neighbors started dropping by to borrow my handheld mortiser and my homemade drum sander. Soon I was designing "out-there" tools, like an X-Y drill-press table and a multiple-tool stand that worked like a Ferris wheel. I was hooked! (You can find plans for many of these tools on my website.)

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Mating 16-TPI threaded rod provides hard stops every 1⁄16" in this homemade micro-adjustable router fence, providing predictable, incremental positioning.

Join the movement 

It won't take you long to discover that you're not alone in your new tool-making habit. Deep within the World Wide Web, in the smoky back rooms of the forums, and on YouTube, among the videos of kittens and dancing squirrels, there is a movement growing.

Woodworkers who enjoy building jigs are sharing their creations with anyone who cares to look. New makers have popped up with ever more audacious creations: Homemade bandsaws, shapers, and jointers. Tools articulated with wooden gears, springs, levers, and lifts. Some make do-it-all jigs, such as a complete router-joinery machine. Others build just-for-fun jigs, like a tablesaw-mounted wooden bowling-ball carver.

Not satisfied with simply "building a better mousetrap," we'll build a micro-adjustable mousetrap with a self-setting spring and integrated rodent disposal. We are a new breed of woodworkers, jig makers, and workshop tinkerers, pushing the limits of the craft and making things from wood that few ever considered. Join us!

Stumpy's favorite Jig Makers:

Stumpy's favorite Jig Makers:

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