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Quickie Sander Fence

Quickie Sander Fence

by John Calkin

Published online by Guild of American Luthiers, July 2022

 

Every lutherie shop has jigs hanging around. Often, lots of them. Every sort of stringed instrument is easier and faster to build using good jigs. If you decide that you'd like to build all of the instrument types commonly played in America you will accumulate a serious number of jigs.

These days just about all of the most useful jigs can be purchased from a variety of dealers. They are very pretty and often better-made and more useful than a jig we would bother to make in our own shop. Well, prettier, anyhow. If you have entered lutherie in the last fifteen years you may have grown tired of old-timers complaining about this, as if making all of your own jigs was a right of passage that should never be skipped. "In my day we couldn't buy a guitar jig of any kind anywhere! We were lucky to find a book with pictures of guitars, let alone instructions to make them. Huff!"

Well, sometimes we need a jig or fixture (what's the difference, anyhow?) that isn't instrument-specific, but machine-specific. I have vague memories of making a right-angle fence for my 6×48 belt sander. I still have the same sander, so when I rediscovered the jig---er, fixture---a few weeks ago I was glad to see it. But as soon as I turned my back, darn if it didn't go into hiding again. I have bumped around my little shop a number of times searching for it but to no avail.

So, today I made a new one. I remember having to shim the old one to get it square. The new one came out dead on the money. I'll claim that forty years of experience was responsible for that, rather than blind luck. Old-farts in the game are entitled to that. Belt sanders vary enough in design that I won't bother listing any dimensions. I have included enough photos to suggest the jist of it. Anyway, you'll probably want the fence to be longer, or taller, or shaped like an animal for all I know.

I sat it on a thin spacer to clear the belt, and it remained there nicely while I put on the clamps. Use the smallest clamps that will work in order not to bump them against the underside edge of the belt. Good luck. ◊

All photos by John Calkin.