A Peek Behind the Curtain

Leigh1Because I am a woodworking tool geek, one of the things I really like about my job is that I not only get to see the plethora of new woodworking products as they are launched, but I often get to see them firsthand and get a demonstration of how they work.  (No tedious reading of the instruction manuals for me, no sir!)

A good example of this came recently when Matthew Grisley of Leigh Industries dropped by to demonstrate their new Super FMT Jig (http://www.leighjigs.com/superfmt.php). I have had the pleasure of knowing Matt and his family for many years now, so this demo meeting was a double treat for me. This jig forms both mortises and tenons with one setup, much like their original FMT jig, but at almost half the cost. (A great concept with all of us watching our nickels and dimes even more closely these days.)

Rob Johnstone checks out Matthew Grisley’s work at an in-shop demonstration for Woodworker’s Journal.

Rob Johnstone checks out Matthew Grisley’s work at an in-shop demonstration for Woodworker’s Journal.

There are some products that I think are hard to appreciate if you don’t actually put your hands on them or see them demonstrated. That is true of the Super FMT jig, in my opinion. Once it is set up, it is remarkably easy to use and to get great repeatable results. There is no denying that setting it up takes some time, but one benefit of watching Matt go through the process was that I could see that it was not hard to do. And once you’ve done the initial setup, starting a fresh project takes just a matter of seconds.

Another benefit of watching Matt go through the process was that I learned that the tenons are formed with a climb cut — basically cutting it the opposite direction that a person would usually use with a router. I am 90 percent sure that I would have done it the other way if I had been trying out the jig on my own. (Did I already mention that I don’t read instruction manuals?)

One of the things I found most clever about the Super FMT’s design was the innovative use of rare earth magnets on the jig. One magnet helps align the tabletop,  another stores the sight (which snaps to a window on the tabletop to align your stock), and still others hold the clamps in place on the jig so you can have both hands free to locate your stock. That is just cool.

The Super FMT Jig is going to market right now. It will be available at rockler.com in late December.

Rob Johnstone
Editor in Chief

The initial setup of the Super FMT Jig is a bit time-consuming. After that, it just takes seconds to get started.

The initial setup of the Super FMT Jig is a bit time-consuming. After that, it just takes seconds to get started.

The Super FMT Jig, when properly adjusted, creates repeatable and accurate mortise and tenon joints.

The Super FMT Jig, when properly adjusted, creates repeatable and accurate mortise and tenon joints.

Leigh5

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This entry was posted in Jigs and Fixtures, Joinery, Tool Reviews, Tools by Rob Johnstone. Bookmark the permalink.

About Rob Johnstone

Rob Johnstone has been part of Woodworker's Journal's since 1997, becoming editor of the print magazine in 1998 and editor in chief in 2007. He began woodworking at age 13 in his family-owned cabinet shop and, as an adult, trained to become an accomplished luthier. He eventually opened his own cabinetry and custom fine woodworking business. Rob has brought many of the most well-known authors in woodworking to the Journal's pages and introduced Woodworker's Journal Online Survey. When, in his free time, Rob isn't woodworking, he enjoys hunting for sharp-tailed grouse with his bird dog, playing music and/or listening to his son's rock band and cooking on his high-tech stove.

One thought on “A Peek Behind the Curtain

  1. So many tools, so little space.
    I have a related question.
    All of these jigs require uniform stock as input (square width and thickness). One good edge is easy with a plane or small jointer. Other good edge is easy with a table saw. It is the faces, especially wide pine boards that are my problem.
    Do I buy a planer, a planer jointer combo, a planer molder combo???
    And, what kind of blade life can I expect from a small planer???

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