Introduction: The Power of Jigs for Glue-ups -- Thomas Jefferson Would Be Smiling...

I have a friend at Tech Shop who is building a scale model of a studio that he designed and wants to build in real life.  It is based on Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. 

If you look at the model, it has all sorts of craze angles.  The walls needed to fit together perfectly around the roof.  The model needed to be square.

There are no right angles in this thing.  My buddy spent a great deal of time making the walls and was having trouble figuring out how to glue it together.  On top of everything else, the wall with the doorway is supposed to slide open after the roof lifts off.

I cam up with the idea of making a jig out of MDF on the shopbot so that you could use it as a form to clamp the sides for support.

This is how it came out...

Step 1: Use VCarve to Drive the ShopBot

Step one was to export the plans from the cad software into vCarve pro and cut the file on the shopbot.  If you want to see vCarve screens, look at this instructable.    If you want to see the shopbot cut something, look at this youtube video.

This jig was cut from 3/4" MDF on a shopbot alpha.  Notice that the slots have dog-bone ends.  This allows for the circular bit to provide clearance so that you can put a square right angle slot into what otherwise would be a round hole.

This is how the support is able to be inserted into the base.

The vCarve software allows you to create tabs that hold the whole thing together until you are ready cut the tabs out.  Use a jig saw to blow through the tabs like butter.

Step 2: Clamp It to the Form

This model is a giant octagon.  You need a lot of clamps to secure the sides to the form.

Once this if done, we tested the roof to make sure that it fit in the model.

Step 3: Use an Air Powered Brad Nailer

Instead of glue, I made the suggestion of using a Senco brad gun.  It can shoot brads from 5/8" to 2" and it does not split the wood like a finish nailer.

We used 5/8" and 1" long brads while the model was still in the Jig

Step 4: Unclamp and Finish

After the brads, all that needed to happen was to take the clamps off of the MDF jig, and you my buddy has a finished model that is perfectly square and functional.

I made the jig at TechShop.