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Working with Hands - James E. Price

  Centering Jig 1 of 3  

I went to the local open-air flea market in Poplar Bluff, Missouri on Friday as I have all my life.


It is called, "The Sale Barn" and used to be a place where livestock was sold but the pens, barns, and arena are long gone. Starting before I was born folks brought in their junk and used items to sell out of their trucks and cars. Friday I saw a nice gunsmithing tool and purchased it for $2.00. I recognized it as a centering jig to locate and drill the screw holes when mounting telescopic sights on rifles. This was made by Williams and currently retails for $100-$130 so I got a major bargain.

When I got it to my shop I jammed a wooden pencil in one of the crossbeam holes and it became a joiner's woodworking tool. It got me thinking that I had never made a center finder/scribe although I have several old ones. I picked my favorite one and duplicated it this afternoon.

If you have never used one of these tools, consider making one. I use mine frequently to divide boards in a few seconds in making small individual tool cases. After I got that one completed, I picked up a small piece of sassafras wood and made another kind of center finder which is quite simple compared to the replica I made.

Layout is extremely important when making center finders. The screw holes have to be in exactly the right places for one to work properly. When I planed the sassafras wood it filled my shop with its fragrance while tens of thousands of snow geese few over as they have for the last 48 hours. Their honking added to the pleasure of unplugged woodworking.

The top specimen is the one I replicated today. The other one is a nice brass center finder to locate perfect center on the ends of cylinders. A gunsmith's jig for mounting telescopic sites is very precise. I used it today to center all the six screws that hold my replica jig together and form pivot points.

This photo shows my original center finder and the mahogany replica I made.

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Folding Rule


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