Jigs & Patterns Using Plastic

30 Jul

To an Irishman a jig is a dance. To the fisherman, a jig is a type of lure or technique to attract dinner. To a maker of things, a jig is often a piece of metal, plastic, or wood that positions or clamps a component in a way that makes it easier to work on or finish – such as aligning drill holes.

Table Saw Jig

Around the home workshop or plant shop, there are many opportunities to work with jigs when gluing, cutting, shaping, or painting.

A Metal Pressure Jig

Plastic is a preferred material for jigs because it’s far easier to cut and machine then metal and you can see through it, making it easier to align with marks underneath.

Oval Jig For A Hand Router

Acrylic is a tough, see-through product that can be easily shaped. It’s about 10 times the strenght of glass but may crack under stress. It’s a fine replacement for a quick-change blade guide in your table saw.

Polycarbonate is a rugged, see-through product that is 30 times tougher than acrylic. It has a rubberizing agent in the material that makes it resilient to impact. This makes an excellent guard material – you can see through and it will protect you from things firing off at you. It’s what your safety glasses are made of.

Replacement Grinder Guard From Polycarbonate

WARNING One must remember that when ever you drill a hole in plastic it causes stress… it’s recommended that you chamfer the hole to take out the minute cracks around the hold that are caused when using a drill bit.

Chamfered Holes

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *


For making patterns that can be used over and over again, I like to use 1/4 high density polyethylene (HDPE). Now, acrylic or polycarbonate will work. What I find is that the HDPE is easier on my tools and… well… things happen in a workshop…. patterns are dropped, stuff is put on top of them, or the patterns come in contact with stain or paint. HDPE is resilient to them all.

Patterns can go beyond the workshop and into the sewing rooms too… HDPE is resilient to razor blades and marking wax and is still firm in thinner gauges.

Thin Gauge HDPE Is Excellent For Sewing Patterns

Table Top & Fence Enhancements

HDPE is a wear product. It can easily be affixed to saw tops and fences to minimize contact with metal or to make the job of pushing through pieces easier.

HDPE Fence Liner

HDPE Outfeed Table Liner

Router Table Fence


HDPE is a better choice for patterns that are going to come in contact with glue or cement. It doesn’t stick to much so after the job is done a razor blade usually removes any left-overs. Consider lining all of your glue areas with HDPE too – that’s what its made for.

Warehoused Plastic Sales has all kinds of bits and pieces of plastic that can used around the workshop. Just bring in a box and we’ll fill it up from our offcuts and sell it to you by the pound.


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