Introduction: Mini Bow Making Jig

About: I have been an avid maker since I was 16 years old. That was over 45 years ago. I love woodworking, scratch model making, wood carving, designing and making jigs for the shop, and designing in CAD. My son enco…

Over 30 years ago I had built a model of Santa’s Christmas house as a decoration. My wife at
the time and I decided to build it together, though she really was the driving force behind the project. It turned out nice but over the next 30+ years I noticed things that I would like to do differently. New creative projects are always a lot of fun for me so I thought I’d tackle this one. The one I had built utilized a pre-cut kit that we had purchase a local hobby and craft store. The quality wasn’t great as it was 1/8” low grade plywood, made from low grade wood plies and was ruled die stamped. This time I wanted something a little bit more durable. I wanted to be able to rely on it structurally. The house I had built long time ago didn’t store well and had become dirty. It did last for better than 30 years but required annual maintenance. The last time I brought it out, it looked really dingy. It was also clearly starting to fall apart and repairing it would not solve the other issue. So I decided to draw up a pattern for the new Christmas house. The online kit was made out of that same light-duty plywood that the other one was. So based on that I decided to come up with my own design. I wanted to be out of half inch plywood for a more durable structure, increased impact resistance, allow for a better storage system, and better portability. The other one would start to break apart at the joints when you attempted to lift it. I didn’t want that to be the same issue with this particular design. The first challenge was making the bows. I chose to share a simple project and that is making presents. I would also need the bows for the wreaths. I've decided that paper model Christmas presents would work best. I have built 5 different proof of concept versions before I decided on the two that I thought did the best job. The fixed diameter versions are shown in this instructable. The most simple version are the fixed diameter jigs which are very easy to make. The infinitely adjustable jig is more complex and I will share those plans in the near future.

Step 1: What You Will Need

You will need the following items to make the jig.

1. A 1-1/2" T-head steel pin

2. 2 pieces of a 1/8" (3mm) diameter metal posts 1-1/2" long (38mm)

3. A block of wood approx 4" long (100mm) x 2-1/2" wide (64mm) x 3/4" thick (18 or 19mm)

4. A set of 4 stick on rubber feet, 1/8" (3mm) minimum thickness up to 1/4" thick (6mm). I sued 1/2" diameter (12mm) This is the set I had purchased.

5. 2 pieces 1/2" staple ( I used the Arrow T-50 staple gun)

6. 1/16" drill bit (1.5mm)

7. 1/8" drill bit (3mm)

8. Drill

9. A saw to cut the base to length, table saw, chop saw, scroll or jig saw. Most any saw will work.

Step 2: Laying Out the Base

All you need to make this jig is a block of wood approx 2-1/2” x 4” long and 3/4” thick. Any type of wood will work. You will also need a dressmakers T-Pin 1-1/2” long. 2 round metal post 1/8” in diameter by 1-1/2” long. I used solid brass rod. Actually any round bar stock about 1/8" inch in diameter will work fine. A set of stick-on rubber feet are also needed.

You will need to be able to staple the T-head of the pin to back of the base plate. I used an Arrow T-50 staple gun with 1/2" staples.

Drill a dead center hole 1/16” to accommodate the T-pin. Determine the diameter of bow you wish to make. In this case it’s 3/4” total diameter, 3/8” each side of the 1/16” hole. Drill 2 holes 1/8” inch diameter for the round posts. See the video for the 1 and 1-1/4" sizes.

Step 3: Making the Center Pin Groove

The T-pin is a slip fit into the 1/16” hole, so this needs to be stiffened up. The best was is to staple to head of the T into a shallow v-notch carved perpendicular to the 1/8” holes. I used a mechanics square and a box cutter to create the v-groove. Cut the groove 90 degrees perpendicular to the horizontal center of the base. This will insure that it cannot rotate. The width should be between 1/16 and 1/8 inches.

Step 4: Making the Center Pin Rigid

The center T-pin will need to be stapled to the bottom of the block of wood. This will make the center pin very rigid. It will be very rigid and easy to use.
Carve a v-notch channel to accommodate the T-head of the pin. Place it perpendicular to the 1/8” holes. This notch will prevent the pin from rotating and limit side to side motion.

Notice the T head is resting in the v-groove slot. This way the pin cannot twist or move side to side in the hole. The pin is firmly held in place by adding 2 separate 1/2” staples. This makes the fixture easier to use as well as accurate placement of the bows center. The pin becomes very rigid making the jig much easier to use.

Step 5: Examples of Bows and Their Uses

This shows the finished bows applied to a variety of projects. The Jig allows you to make a wide variety of bows. The bow making process is in the next instructable and was published at the same time the bow making jig was. Look for a link to see the bow making process.

How to make mini bows with the Bow Making Jig

Step 6: Please Make a Donation

Please consider a Paypal donation based on the value of this Instructable to you. These will help me continue to provide Instructables throughout the build of the Christmas House.