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Extreme Production Adventure with Carol Barton II: Jigs and Templates

One of the best things I learned from Carol Barton during her trip to Vermont was how to effectively use jigs and templates.

In my own production work, I have a “recipe book” that contains all of my standards measurements and designs – this keeps me from having to redefine the process each time I make an item. However, I have never had the opportunity to make use of templates or jigs in my work. So when the Book Arts Guild of Vermont got together to assemble copies of the Studio Protector for the Craft Emergency Relief Fund – read more about it in this post– I was excited to see what Carol had designed to help streamline production.

So I have to admit, I never really thought about the difference between a jig and a template – I’ve often used the terms interchangeably. Bad me.

So I did some research and came up with the following distinctions:

  • A template serves as a pattern, model, gauge, or guide.
  • A jig is used to guide machine or hand work, for example locating holes or making score marks. These can have hinged components.

So now that I have my terms straight, I can say that in the workshop, we didn’t use any templates because all of the pieces were laser cut in advance. We did, however, use several jigs.

Carol told us that when constructing jigs with hinged pieces, she prefers to use gaffers tape, which is made of cotton cloth and is commonly used in the theater industry. Duct tape or packing tape can also be used. I’m going to share images of several jigs, along with explanations of how they were used.

Jig for production of handmade books

Base jig

The image above shows a jig we used for the base piece of the Studio Protector. The base of the jig is made of bookboard, as are the 4 curved pieces glued on to the surface. In the center of the left side, you can see a shiny piece of metal – that’s a magnet. This jig had a small circle carved in it into which a magnet was inset – this was to help us attach a magnet to the same spot on each of the base pieces.

Jig for production of handmade books

As you can see above, we placed the base piece of cardstock into the jig.  The cardstock had curves cut out that matched the curved pieces on the jig, so it slid perfectly into position. Now here’s the cool part – to get the magnet in the correct position, all you had to do was hover a new magnet over the spot on the jig that had the inlaid magnet and the new magnet snapped right into position. Voila! Perfect placement every time. We would secure the magnet to the cardstock with a white label.

The colored stickers on each curved piece of bookboard indicated the placement of 4 pockets that were later glued in. This eliminated any confusion about which pocket went where.

One of the cardstock pieces required two different jigs to get all of the scoring done.

Jig for production of handmade books

Fire Alarm Score Jig 1

Above you can see the first jig we used to score a Fire Alarm piece. The base of this jig is made of bookboard and the 3 attached L-shaped guides in the corners are as well. Next you can see the jig with the Fire Alarm in position.

Jig for production of handmade books

And now you can see the jig with the hinged piece closed over the top of the Fire Alarm. The overlay piece is made of mat board. The overlay was attached with packing tape on the inside (because it was thinner) and duct tape on the outside (because it was stronger).

Jig for production of handmade books
One score line was made across the top left edge of the of the overlay piece, so it went all the way across the piece of cardstock that extended above the jig. The next score line was made on the bottom right edge of the overlay piece. If you look carefully, you can see a short notch cut into the mat board overlay. This notch acted as a guide to help us score only where it was needed – the ends of the notch stopped us from extending the score line too far. So cool.

Jig for production of handmade books

Fire Alarm Score Jig 2

Above you can see the second jig we used to score a Fire Alarm piece. The base, overlay, and attached guide pieces are all made of bookboard. Once again, the overlay was attached with packing tape on the inside and duct tape on the outside. Next you can see the jig with the Fire Alarm in position.

Jig for production of handmade books

And now you can see the jig with the hinged piece closed over the top of the Fire Alarm.

Jig for production of handmade books

This time the score lines were made in 4 places: along the left side of the overlay (left flap), across the top left and bottom left sides (tiny flaps with dots on them), and along the top right side. Once again, notches were cut into the overlay to prevent us from over-scoring the cardstock.

So a big yay for jigs! Once created, jigs essentially guarantee that you do your job correctly. And who wouldn’t love more non-screw ups in the studio?

So what do you think? I'd love to know!

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