Jigs, Appliances, and Evenfall Woodworks

September 18, 2011 § 2 Comments

Jigs and appliances are an integral part of most woodworker’s daily routine. Power tools can be optimized by an assortment of accessories, and commerically made jigs for table saws, bandsaws, and routers are a huge industry. Many of those same jigs can also be simpler, shop-made versions, often saving the parsimonious woodworker lots of money, at the expense of a little extra time. Gary Rogowski has a simple theory on jigs in his woodworking shop, “I build fancy furniture, not fancy jigs.”

Jigs for the hand-tool oriented woodworker have traditionally been made shop-made. I suppose the term “appliance” is more appropriate for jigs in the hand-tool world, though it’s a term I find a little weird, and thus, have not fully embraced. Unlike power tools, there has never been much of a market for commercially made hand-tool jigs. There are a probably at least a few reasons for this. For one, hand-tool jigs are usually much simpler in their construction. A bench hook, for example, can be more easily fashioned by some scrap wood than a tenoning jig for a table saw. Also, even in the face of the recent resurgence in hand tools, a larger user base makes the power tool market a more profitable endeavor for manufacturers. And hand-tool jigs are almost exclusively made of wood, so why would a woodworker buy something made of wood?

As such, few if any have made it their mission to build jigs for the hand-tool oriented woodworker. Rob Hanson, of Evenfall Woodworks, is an exception. Hanson builds an assortment of jigs (appliances) exclusively for the hand-tool lover. I discovered his website a year or so ago and ordered one of his granite surface plate covers. (To add a touch of coolness, he makes the covers using a vintage Singer sewing machine.) Since then I’ve visited his site on a regular basis, and over the past year he’s added more and more jigs to his online store. At a recent Lie Nielsen tool event I attended, Mike Wenzloff showed off one of Hanson’s superb shooting boards. I can confidently say that his shooting board is better than anything I would fashion.

Some woodworkers like to build jigs, others hate it. Hanson is betting there are at least a few in the latter category. Every time I look at his jigs online, I say to myself, “That’s a great idea, I’ll have to make one of those”. And I have every intention to do just that. But other things take priority, and when it comes time to do it, I end up fashioning some half-baked version that just gets me by. And a few months later I check his site again, see something new, and think, “Hey, that’s cool, I’ll have to build one of those”. And of course, I don’t. And that’s what Rob Hanson and Evenfall Woodworks is for me. He makes the things I always say I’m going to make, but never do. That’s a great reason to buy his stuff.

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Besides producing great woodworking jigs, Hanson also produced one of the great blog comments of all time on this Chris Schwarz blog post. Responding to folks questioning why they should spend money on a shooting board, his response totaled 2,350 words. Awesome.

One thing Rob built that he doesn’t sell is a slick portable sharpening station that he shows off here.

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