I hope this instructable helps those who wish to make their own jig for making paracord items. I made this jig with wood that I had laying around to handle three different size buckles and two pins. It can make up to an 18" bracelet, collar, key fob, etc.
My wood working skills are mediocre at best, and I was limited on my time to complete the jig, so I apologize in advance that I do not have pictures of every single step. But I believe I may have enough to help you through making a jig of your own!
The first two buckles are your common 3/8 and 1" buckles, The third buckle is a whistle/scrapper/flint rod buckle that I ordered off line. I also added in two pins that are roughly 2.5" long, 1/4" diameter.
Step 1: Materials
For this project, this is a list of materials you will need. Depending on what you are working with, and what you have access to, this list may vary a little.
- Wood. My original jig was made from wood that came from a dresser drawer.
- Clamps. They come in handy during this project.
- Tape measure or ruler. Using correct measurements, and drawing straights lines that later will be cut is important if you want your jig to operate nice and smoothly.
- Screws. Depending on the wood you are working with, the diameter and length of your screws will vary here. You could use nails instead if you prefer. I chose screws since there is less chance of my jig pulling apart as I move it around, use it, or if it gets kicked or dropped by anyone.
- Drill with Philips screw bit and drill bits. You will need at least two drill bits; a 1/4" drill bit, and another drill bit that is slightly smaller than the screws you will be using.
- Cotter less Hitch Pins. These I plan to use to make key fobs, buckle less bracelets, etc.
- Corner braces, picture hangers. I used these to secure my buckles to the wood. You can also use plastic or metal wire clamps, small pins, or whatever else you have on hand that will securely hold the buckles in place.
Step 2: Plan Ahead
All of the wood I used for this jig is .75" thick.
My base board is 7.25" x 25.25".
The guide rails are 1.5" x 25.25". I stood them on their side for more work room while making whatever it is on the jig.
The slider is made of two pieces; a 3.5" x 3.5", and a 3.5" x 5". This piece holds half of your buckle(s) and slides up and down your jig.
The top piece is 3.5" x 5". This piece is secured to your jig and has half of the buckle(s) secured to it.
The scrap wood I had laying around pretty much covered what I needed with very few cuts. I originally drew a rough blueprint with how I wanted it to look and with measurements. The measurements were more of a guideline. The most important one that I wanted to stick with was an 18" work space. This allows me enough room to make small animal collars.
I made what few cuts I needed to get the pieces of wood listed above. This took a little bit of math work to make sure that the sum of my slider and top piece lengthwise still gave enough room for an 18" work space(3.5 + 3.5 = 7; 25 - 7 = 18. Torturous math, I know). I placed the rails on the base board, and two 3.5" x 3.5" between the rails, one at either end. For the slider piece, the 3.5" x 3.5" slides between the rails, while the 3.5" x 5" piece rode the rails.
I took several measurements to make sure everything was centered on the base board, then marked a few spots where the guide rails sit on the base board.
Step 3: Seeing Up the Slider and Top Piece
First check that your top piece is only as wide as your rails. Make any necessary cuts if need be. If you plan to add in a pin also, attach a piece of wood to the bottom of your top piece. Make the piece of wood the same length, but not as wide. You want it to fit between the rails.
I used 3 different buckles and added in a cotter less hitch pin. Undo what buckles you plan to use, attach one half of the buckle(s) to the pieces you're using to secure them to the top piece, and place them on the top piece. Make sure to line up the edge of your buckle(s) to the edge of the top piece. If you are placing the male side of the buckle(s), pretend the prongs are not there for this step. Secure them to the top piece.
Once you have the buckles lined up properly, secure them to the top piece. If adding a pin, drill a hole the same diameter through the top piece, and partly into the piece of wood attached underneath. The pin I used Is 1/4" wide, so I used a 1/4" drill bit. I drilled no more than .5" into the bottom piece; 1.25" total.
Set your top piece aside.
Repeat this process for the slider. First attached a piece of wood under your top piece. Make it the same length, but only wide enough so that it fits between the rails. This insures your slider will stay properly aligned while adjusting it to the length of the item you are making. You also want this piece to fit snug so that the slider doesn't rotate while working. Make sure the buckle(s) are aligned properly with their counterparts, and do the same with the pin.
Once you are done securing everything, you want to find the center of the slider width wise. Mark the center, then draw a line length wise through this point. At least an inch in from the top or bottom, drill a 1/4" hole through the wood completely somewhere along this line. Make sure to plan for the washer to go over this hole before drilling.
Take your 1/4" x 4" bolt and put a washer on it. Then insert the bolt through the hole you just drilled. Now put a washer on the top, then a wing nut. A nut would also work here, but would be a little more difficult to operate when re-adjusting the position of your slider.
Set your slider aside.
Step 4: Cutting Out the Slot in Your Base Board
Find the center of your base board width wise, and mark that point in several spots along the length of the board. Then using a ruler or similar straight edge, connect the points from bottom to top.
Time to do your math again. Take the length of your top piece, and half of the length of your slider, add together, then measure that distance along the center line on your base board. This is where you want to drill a 1/4" hole. Putting your hole here will allow your slider to rest up against your top piece.
Draw a straight line from either side of the hole you just drilled to the bottom of your base board. You want these lines to be 1/4" apart from each other. Make sure these two lines are centered over the original line you drew when finding the center of your base board.
Cut along the two newly drawn lines from the bottom of your base board, up to the hole you drilled.
Step 5: Assembling Your Jig
Reposition your guide rails on your base board. Measure several spots along the rails to make sure they are centered, then clamp them into place. Or you can clamp one at a time into place.
From the bottom side of your base board, plot out several spots where you want to put in screws. Make sure the screws will go through your base board and partly into your guide rails. Make sure to drill holes prior to putting in the screws or you may splinter, or crack in half, your rails, as well as crack your base board. For my jig, I went in two to three inches from the top and bottom and put a screw in, then spaced out two more in between those.
When your guide rails are secured to your base, remove the clamps.
Take your top piece and clamp it in place on the rails at the top end of your base board. Drill a hole through the top piece into the guide rails. This can be done in two spots, one on either side of the top piece, or in four, one near each corner. After you drill the holes, put in screws to secure it.
Now place your slider on the rails, making sure that the head of your bolt and the washer go underneath your base board.
For added stability I partially cut a slot into a 3.5" x 3.5" piece of wood, then secured it between the rails to the base board. Drill your holes first before putting in the screws if you wish to do this.
Using a ruler or tape measure, in the rail starting at your top piece, mark out your measurements. I marked every half inch.
Step 6: Finished Jig
Hopefully my instructions weren't too hard to follow, and now you have a paracord bracelet jig!