Creative & Cheap, That’s How To Fixture
Oh, I need to drill holes in 8 parts, all in the same place. What a pain!
And, I need to cut these 5 pieces all to match. What a hassle to measure, mark, and cut each one!
You Might Need A Cheap Fixture
Holding parts in place for repeat operations is not complex, especially when it’s just doing the same process over and over. Hey, just make a quick and cheap fixture so you only have to measure and mark the first one!
Fixtures (or Jigs as some people like to call them) can be pretty simple, and they don’t need to be pretty. The image here shows a simple drill fixture. It’s a small chunk of metal clamped to a jaw of the vise. The vise is clamped to the drill press table, so that repeat drilling becomes a simple matter of switching parts. And, you don’t have to measure again.
In this case, I had to drill the same hole in 12 parts. Measure the first part carefully, then secure it in the vise on the drill press table. Start drilling by moving the vise around on the table until the hole is in perfect position. Next, stop everything and carefully clamp the vise to the table. (Use 2 clamps on the vise so it won’t wander. They are the big silver ends, but you can’t see the whole clamp in the photo.)
Next, I put the small piece of metal against the edge of the 1st part, and secured it to the vise jaw with the little orange c-clamp. With the vise clamped in place, and the new stop piece secured to the vise jaw, I simply removed the 1st work piece and put in the next — holding it securely against the stop. While holding the new work piece in place, I simply closed the vise. No measuring or marking is necessary for the remaining 11 pieces. Best of all, when the drilling is done, all the pieces are the same.
Quick To Make, Easy To Use
If you take a few minutes to set up the jig, it does all the measuring for you. The following pieces will all come out just like the first — so take some time and set the first piece up perfect.
Fixtures are a simple trick to make life easier. Jigs and fixtures also work for sawing, for welding, and for lots of other applications.
It pays to be creative, too. Place an extension, or an extra fixture piece on the table, like in the second photo. This one cheap fixture worked on all 4 corners of these crane bolt plates because they were the same. It’s all good.
As another example, the next photo shows a simple, cheap fixture for a chop saw. Screw the saw to a board like this piece of plywood. Mark the first piece carefully and set it in perfect alignment in the saw. Hold it secure. (You can use a second person to help, or you can clamp it in the saw.) The two additional pieces (2 by chunks) are screwed together in an “L” shape, then screwed to the plywood so they were just touching the end of the first piece to be cut. It is that simple. Each piece to cut after that is the same length just by pushing it up to the wood blocks, then cutting. 80 chunks of PVC pipe all the same length for an Eagle Project.
Simple fixtures like this work just as well for almost any type of cutting or drilling or welding or painting or sanding etc.. Just a quick way to make several pieces all the same.
Though the above emphasizes fixtures for repeat operations, if the parts are big or if things are a bit wangly, a fixture to hold things in place for a single operation can also make the project turn out much better. A good example is welding parts together, like a trailer frame, for instance. Something like that requires several pieces held all at once — which it’s much easier with a jig.
Yeah, it can be a hassle, but it’s worth the better end result. Go for it.
Good luck making a cheap fixture for all your repeat and complex processes.