JigFab Makes Woodworking Easier

Woodworking is an age-old craft that requires creativity and skill to get the best results. Experienced hands get the best results, while the new builder may struggle to confidently produce even basic pieces. JigFab is here to level the playing field somewhat.

Much of the skill in woodworking comes with mastering the various joints and techniques required to hold a piece together. Cutting these joints often requires specialized tools and equipment – ideally, some sort of jig. These jigs can be difficult to build in themselves, and that’s where JigFab shines.

The workflow is straightforward and quite modern. A piece is designed in Autodesk Fusion 360. Various joints can then be defined in the model between individual parts. JigFab then generates a series of laser cut constraints that can be used with power tools to easily and accurately cut the necessary parts to build the final piece.

It’s an impressive technology which could rapidly speed the workflow of anyone experimenting with woodwork and design. There’s even smart choices, like having a toolkit of standard predefined elements that reduce laser cutting time when producing new constraints. If you’re eager to get stuck in to woodwork, but don’t know where to start, don’t worry – we’ve got a primer for that. Video after the break.

20 thoughts on “JigFab Makes Woodworking Easier

    1. Apparently nowhere. The authors have published a paper, but there’s no link (that I can find) to the program itself.

      They state in the paper that it’s a plugin for Fusion 360 written in Python, so – no love for linux users.

      I suspect the authors have figured out how useful the program is, and will be starting a business selling copies. If so, might take 6 months to a year for that to happen.

      Most of the information can be found here:

      http://www.raframakers.net/wiki/Main/JigFab2

  1. Wow! They may sell a few to the weekend hobby wood workers that don’t have proper tools but that’s about it. The overall process looks complex enough that anyone capable of using their system can build jigs without paying for them.

    1. Yes, experienced (more experienced than me) woodworkers (or wooddorkers as they sometimes call themselves) will build a jig before cutting their first board on a project, and keep it if will likely be useful in future projects. But, jig building is a necessary step in the process of building about anything with wood.

  2. As an owner of a laser cutter, cnc router, typical hand and power tools, I would never use this. As others have said this creates more work than necessary I use my tools to make an income doing what I love. It seems silly to create reasons to use a jig that only require simple tools in the first place. Huge time waster. Also it’s not very difficult to use Fusion360, as is, to engineer any jigs that I do require. Show me a well done nesting plugin and I’ll “squee” with reckless abandon.

    1. As the owner of a cnc router you can bypass the stage of laser cutting the guides, sorry I mean “computational fabrication of constraints” and crack on with simply cutting everything out on your router and be on your way to being the embarrassed owner of a fairly ugly mdf cabinet.

  3. As even a novice wood/metal worker, I agree this is rather stupid.
    Assuming someone has a table saw, jig/circ saw and router, everything they seemed to show looked pretty novice level to start with.
    Grab a scrap piece of wood, and figure out where the blade is cutting on your line, and learn how to adjust yourself to the line. Adjusting depth of router is simply with even a grade schoolers ruler. Box joints with a router are dead simple from watching any YT video which shows how to set up a stop.

    This would be interesting if I wanted to make a really custom, reusable jog perhaps. However part of WW is learning how to make your own jigs with scrap hardboard or ply from scraps.

  4. I don’t get it… this is about an additional tool for people who aren’t skilled in an area where they should be because of the other tools required to use the additional tools in the first place. So in other words… more stuff for those who rarely use it and therefore, most likely, aren’t skilled enough to use it properly. Don’t get me wrong but isn’t acquiring a skill required to get something done part of a project sometime.

    Though I’m sure that there are plenty of people who think this is cool… just like the food processor of the 80’s when everybody thought they could turn themselves into a chef-cook just by owning such a machine. Then after using it once (for ten seconds) and then cleaning it up for 10 minutes, got quickly tired of it an put it all the way back into the kitchen cabinet.

    Watch a video, read a book, talk to an expert, then experiment with the tools and machines (safely) and practice until you acquire a skill, then make your own tools along the way. The skill will stay with you for a lifetime, tools break or get lost.

  5. Hmm… seems pretty inefficient – particularly their custom parts to do a parallel cut or groove, when there’s standard ways of doing this without disposable custom parts – like fences. And seriously, a complex custom part to set a depth stop on a drill or a router bit depth?

    And this requires access to a fairly large laser cutter, but which for some reason you don’t want to use to cut your final parts – perhaps it’s not quite large enough? Obviously stuff like the finger joint jig have some value, if you have a CNC that can’t cut radius-less corners (and obviously won’t take the stock vertically!. But this is made with a laser, which could cut those anyway.

    I can see value if you’re going to use the jigs a lot, like make 50 of something. But otherwise meh. And there’s probably standard ways to make jigs without this, as woodworkers have been making jigs for years.

    So – videos for making something clever, but doesn’t look to be useful, or to have considered existing solutions.

    1. Jigs for woodworking, such as fences, indeed exist but require measurements and fine-tuning which is very error-prone. JigFab uses concepts of existing woodworking jigs but generates custom laser cut parts/jigs that do not require fine-tuning or measurements. This makes the woodworking with jigs significantly easier for novices.

      However, some features of JigFab might even appeal to experts. Take for example this jig for making an intricate finger joint that would require lots of considerations and calculations without JigFab: http://www.raframakers.net/wiki/uploads/Main/JigFab/fingerjoint.jpg

  6. but its not really useful, go on youtube and look up wood working jigs and you will find directions and plans on how to make almost every single one of those jigs in such a way that they are adjustable and reusable. This product requires new parts of the jigs to be made for each and every single project and that is probably how they expect to turn it into a business (providing those custom cut pieces as they are spit out from their computational algorithms). The problem that they have is that this method of construction actually requires rather careful consideration to things like tolerances and run out on tools. How will their jigs handle multiple uses and wear and tear of being assembled and re-assembled?

    The root of the problem is quite simple: Woodworking is a process of construction in such a way that takes into consideration all possible inaccuracies in the tools being used such that a final product is made to drawn dimensions. This JigFab is research by academics and like most research by academics, it over thinks the problem with out actually researching how the process is done in real life. A panto router is a much better investment and will do all of the joinery that JigFab can do and more, JigFab is academics being academics and creating a solution looking for a problem while ignoring all of the other solutions out there.

  7. A lot of y’all just don’t seem to get it. This isn’t intended for expert wood crafters who can whip up a jig in a heartbeat, but for novices who don’t know a jig from a jag. It makes it fairly easy and understandable for anyone to be able to cut the joints they need for a project without needing to take the years of learning needed to become an expert. For example, I was part of a Men’s Shed group, and they occasionally needed to create large numbers of paddle boat kits for local kids to put together. This fantastic invention would have allowed anyone in the club to easily create the kit parts, no matter what their skill level. Please don’t let the fact that YOU don’t see any value in something for yourself blind you to the reality that it might have value beyond your viewpoint.

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