Introduction: Make Wood Jar Lid Covers
Step 1: Tools, Equipment and Materials
To make lid covers you'll need the following:
A full sized router may be easier to manipulate during the cuts, because of its large base, but a trim router will do the job just fine.
2) PATTERN BIT
You could use a straight bit and freehand the cuts, but a pattern bit makes the routering of the cover nearly foolproof. You really can't go wrong, as long as the guide bearing has the template, or the previous cuts to follow.
A handheld jig saw will handle everything in this project, but using a bandsaw would make roughing in the outside of the lid a significantly easier.
A scroll blade, in your hand held jig saw, is perfect for the cut - it leaves a reasonable finish and is designed for the tight, curving, precision cuts.
Ideally, you'd have an oscillating sander to bring the inside cut of the template to the line you made when establishing the template hole you'll use to router the lid cover.
A drum-disk sander would make quick work of bringing the outer perimeter of the lid to round.
If you don't have these, you can freehand on a belt sander, to rough in the outer shape, or you can do everything with a quarter sheet sander.
As an alternative to power sanders, all the sanding work can be done using a simple sanding block and dowels with slits in the end to hold sandpaper [to finalize the inside cut of the template].
You'll need the drill to drill the starter hole for your template guide.
A cheap spade bit or even a regular twist drill will be fine for drilling the starter hole, as long as the hole is large enough to accommodate the jig saw blade.
6) LAYOUT TOOLS
A sliding gauge (shown in the layout photos) is handy for drawing a line to follow when establishing the outer perimeter of the lid cover.
The lid you are making the cover for is the perfect tool for establishing the size of the hole you have to cut for the template.
5) HOT GLUE GUN
Any glue stick for glue guns should work for these purposes.
6) EYE and EAR PROTECTION
My jig saw qualifies as one of the loudest tools in my shop. Too, as you are monitoring your cut, it likes to spit sawdust or chips. Accordingly, good ear and eye protection are a must.
A few grits are necessary to get this project from start to finish. If the material is very rough you may need eighty (80) or hundred (100) grit, before moving on to one hundred fifty (150) grit for the final.
If you use other than wood, you may need to go with an even finer grit (e.g., work your way up to six hundred (600) grit in your final sanding, and you may have to buff the final sanding. In case you go that route, you can make your own buffing compound. I wrote an ible on doing so and published it at:
If the jar will not suffer the torments of washing, shellac would do for a quick finish. You can use lacquer or poly. The finish can be brush or spray.
If you use a waterborne poly, the finish will be more clear. An oil based will give the wood a warm amber finish.
9) LID MATERIAL
The material you choose can be wood, composite or even plastic. It needs to be at least 1/8" thicker than the depth of the lid.
10) SCRAP PLYWOOD, PARTICLE BOARD or OSB
This is for the template. It should be at least 1/2" thick and 3/4" is preferable. The scrap you use should be large enough to provide support for the router base. as it moves around the template. About eight inches larger than the diameter of the lid should be adequate.
Step 2: Template Layout and Construction
Key to making these a snap to build is, making a template for the router pattern bit to follow, and for the router base to ride on. The template should be large enough that the router base will not tip, as you router the outer perimeter of the lid hole.
The pattern or template can be used over and over again, so labeling its function may be something to consider. For example, you can write on it "Narrow Mouth Mason Jar Lid Cover Template," or whatever fits your want and need.
You can use a single piece of scrap large enough to allow you to cut several different sized holes, for several different sized lids, or you can use smaller pieces of scrap and make one template on each piece of scrap. The latter may be easier to manage for both use and storage.
To make your template:
1) Lay the solid end of the lid (smaller diameter end), for which you are making a cover, on the scrap wood with the flared end up, leaving several inches all the way around where the hole will be cut, to provide that needed space for the router base to ride on, then draw a line around the lid.
2) Don the safety glasses and hearing protection.
3) Drill a starter hole inside the circle large enough for the jig saw blade to go through.
4) Using the handheld scroll/jig saw, cut the circle out. Go slowly and be as accurate as you can, to cut back on the amount of sanding you need to do to smooth the template guide.
5) Test fit the lid. It should go through the hole, but stop at the flange/lip at the bottom.
6) If you need to smooth the cut, do so at this time.
NOTE: The more accurate the template, the better your lid covers will fit.
Step 3: Making the Lid Cover
1) Lay the lid you are going to make the wood cover for on the material you are using for the lid cover, with the flare side up and the top down, then, draw a circle around it. This is just to make it easy to position the template where you want it, which is important if you can and want to use the piece for more than one lid, or to insure the lid cover will have enough wall thickness.
2) You can use double back tape, like carpet tape sold at hardware stores, to secure the template to the lid stock. Alternately, you can dab a few spots of hot glue where the template and lid cover stock meet.
NOTE: I used double back tape bought just for such purposes and it did not hold as well as small pieces of the very sticky carpet tape, which has threads in it. The other tape allowed the template to shift a little, so I'd stay with the hot glue or the carpet tape.
3) With the pattern bit installed and secured, loosen the router base from the motor and bit, place the router on the template, as if you're going to router, then adjust the motor until the bit touches the lid cover stock. Then extend it about 1/4" farther.
NOTE: Take shallow cuts to avoid burning the bit.
4) If you are using a plunge router you can set it and plunge into the stock, otherwise, just tip the bit through the template hole, near the center of the hole, until the base is fully resting on the template. Then start moving the router in ever larger counter clockwise circles, taking off just a bit of material with each pass until the bit bearing meets the template and the bit produces the last cut along and inline with the edge of the template.
5) Lower the bit about another quarter inch and repeat the process. Then do it again until the depth of the cut is enough to bury the lid with only the lip showing.
NOTE: After the last cut, you should have about 1/8" or more material left on the lid cover top.
6) Once the router work is done, separate the lid cover from the template. If you used hot glue and it's difficult to separate the two, try warming the hot melt glue with a hair dryer or heat gun.
7) Using a gauge, like in the fourth photo, or other means you prefer, mark about 3/16" out from and all the way around the routered section. This is to create a cut line for the outer perimeter of the lid cover.
8) Cut to the outside of the line using the handheld jig/scroll saw or a bandsaw.
9) Sand the cut made in step eight (8) to get the outer perimeter of the lid cover round and smooth. If using a drum-disk, this will go quickly with whatever paper is on the machine. If using a hand sander, start with course grit to remove the blade marks and to rough in round. Switch to 150 and do the final sanding of the sides, top and bottom.
10) Apply the finish of your choice. Ideally, all surfaces should be finished.
11) Once the finish is dry, hot glue your lid into the lid cover.
Step 4: NOTES: Alternative Methods, Materials, Etc.
* You can use your wood lathe to perform every function needed to create your wood jar lid.
* If you own an over-arm pin router (see first photo, above), or an arm on which to mount your router, allowing it to perform like one, you can use it to pump these out too. My first several lids were made using mine and templates similar to the the one used in this ible.
Guitar makers, for example, use over-arm pin routers to follow templates for cutting out the holes for pickups and controls.
Using an over-arm pin router, you'd mount the template on the bottom and it would drop over a pin, which comes up through the table. The router moves up and down according to the depth you choose. Once the router is down into the wood, you move the template around until the pin is riding on the edge of the template.
You can see the hole being made and as it's being cut, so know when it's time to drop the router deeper into the material, until you're done.
* You can use a drill press and a Forstner bit to remove much of the material before you router the hollow.
* You can turn finials and add them to your tops to give them even more flair.
* You can join different woods for a bit of change. You can even laminate plywoods and use it for the lids.
* IF you want to be able to use a vacuum sealer to seal the lid, and if you are not sealing via placing the entire jar inside a vacuum chamber, you will need to settle for just sitting the wood lid cover over the Mason jar lid, so you can remove it to use the vacuum sealer.
* If you desire and have a lathe, you can add a finial top to your wood lid cover, like in the photo, above.
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Mason Jar Speed Challenge