What is a drilling jig?

man with drill

A drill jig performs two important repetitive jobs, holding material and guiding the bit into the holes. This simple tool helps ensure accuracy when the same holes need to be drilled repeatedly. The jigs can come already made by the manufacturer or they can be homemade. This drill and hand drill accessory has lost its usefulness in manufacturing because of advances in technology, but it remains popular in woodworking stores.

There is no standard size or shape for a drill jig because it is tailor-made for an individual job. A jig is commonly made from a thin sheet of metal or wood and can be easily transported from project to project. All templates have two distinct characteristics that never change: they always hold and they always guide. There is usually a clamping system in the template, either to secure the wood in place to prevent it from moving or to secure the template to the wood so it does not move. Once attached, the template has a series of holes that show the driller where to make the incisions, so that no matter how many pieces of wood are placed under the template, their drilling patterns are all the same.

The jig usually comes to the user pre-made or the drill operator must create a jig himself. A pre-made drill jig guide usually comes as part of a kit for a larger woodworking project. An example would be a simple template that comes with a set of instructions for creating a cabinet. Using a drill and some ingenuity, experienced woodworkers who know their projects will require repetitive drilling can create homemade jigs.

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As long as drills, whether hand crank or mechanical, are in use, this jig has helped to ensure a consistent product. Drilling jigs have lost popularity, especially in mass production factory settings. Computerized mechanical tools such as the jig drill have eliminated the need for jigs because a drilling pattern can be programmed into a machine and the pattern can be repeated as many times as needed. This doesn’t mean that the drill jig is extinct, just that it’s mostly found in the woodworking shops of hobbyist craftsmen. Jig bits are very expensive, so the drill jig will continue to be the guide for most home woodworkers.

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