Look in most woodworking shops, and, no doubt, you’ll find a pretty oddball collection of tools. Sure, there are the basics – a table saw, band saw, router, you know, the usual.
But, I’d wager you’d also find a number of tools designed to accomplish some very specific tasks –hollow chisel mortisers, specialized miter sleds, heavy metal tennoning jigs. There is no doubt that these tools are very good at what they do, but some can be quite expensive. And, in some cases, they get used only a few times a year at most.
That’s why woodworkers typically build jigs to meet these needs. There are some standard designs out there, and many of these jigs are cobbled together for one-time use and later collect dust on an out-of-the-way shelf.
But, that’s not the case for Niki Avrahami. If you have ever visited the Woodworker’s Website Association, WoodNet or many other woodworking message boards, you may have read about the ingenious array of jigs made by the woodworker from Poland.
From some very humble beginnings as a woodworker (his first project was a tissue box holder for his wife back in 1995), Niki has expanded his knowledge of the craft, and has taken his ingenuity to new heights.
Small parts cutting jigs. Fence stops. Router lifts. If there’s a need, Niki has built a jig to satisfy it.
His thought process is very simple and straightforward. “Usually, I think of a jig because of three reasons; accuracy, repeatability and, last but not least, safety. That, in my opinion, is very important to any woodworker.”
The jigs he builds look somewhat complicated at first blush, but they are pretty straightforward and are made of readily available materials. While a typical jig takes Niki about three hours to construct, his meticulous photographic documentation adds considerable time to the process. “For a jig, I’ll take 50 to 150 pictures. Later, I’ll select the best of all of those for posting.”
His work is starting to catch the attention of woodworking publications. Wood magazine recently featured his 45 degree mitering sled as the best shop tip of the month. Previous editions have also featured some of the creative ideas to come from his simple garage shop.
Just as a proud parent won’t select a favorite child, Niki actually uses most of his jigs while building his projects. “What’s my favorite jig? That’s a difficult question. I think that I use all of them in almost every project because most of the steps are very repetitive. Wood preparation, cutting to dimensions, joinery, gluing etc. Because my machinery includes basic shop power tools, I think that every one of the jigs finds its place in a project.”
Just as with any typical woodworker, Niki always has his eyes on buying the newest and flashiest tools. Until he can afford them, Niki is making the most of what he has. “I’m happy with the tools that I have…the jigs are multiplying the possibilities of every tool.”
You can see a collection of Niki’s jigs at the following forums (Be sure to search for the poster name Niki):