Sunday, July 11, 2010

Making a Shako Jig

I think jig is the proper word. If not, someone let me know.

My Napoleonic figures have been on semi hold for a while as I was waiting for a new mini-miter saw (see last blog entry) to cut the wooden spools in half, which serves as the basis for the shakos. Just one little problem: the round spools did not want to sit in the vise nice and tight so while I was cutting, the spool would shift, leaving me with an angled cut!

What I needed was something where the sides were flat, so the vise could get a proper purchase, but would also fit around the spool's curved surface, gripping it properly. So, I needed to make a custom vise, or a jig.

I started by measuring the inner and outer diameters of the spool. By inner I mean that portion where the thread wraps around. The outer portion is the widest part at the top and bottom. The inner measurement was 5/8" while the outer portion was 3/4".

I took a wood strip (from another project) and bored out a 5/8" hole about one-third of the way through the strip. Notice that the tip of the borer penetrated to the opposite side (the white hole) allowing me to find the center on the opposite side. This was necessary because I then took a 3/4" borer to bore out the opposite side.

With the hole properly bored the larger end of the spool will fit in the 3/4" hole on one side and the smaller center of the spool will fit in the 5/8" hole. Note that the spool used in the picture below has already been cut in half.

The next step is to cut the block in half so that it resembles a two-part mold. Each part will wrap around a whole spool acting as a gripper for the vise. The second picture shows you how the spool fits the two sizes of holes nicely.

Here is the jig in action.

And the results.

In this case I simply lopped off the top of the pawn so it would glue flush with the bottom of the spool.

In the past I used modeling material to fill the spool's hole, but given that its diameter is 1/4" I decided to try both 1/4" flat head plugs and 1/4" dowel; both worked fine although the plug required a tap hammer and the dowel required glue to hold it in place.

While I was experimenting, I actually purchased one 1/4" round head plug by mistake and noticed it made a nice pom-pom, if a little large. I will look for smaller ones and consider using those rather than the heads of dressing pins for the pom-poms, further saving construction time. The larger wooden pom-pom is a little exaggerated, but that is probably good.

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