A number of carpentry jobs require repeating a series of precision moves. Building anything with louvers and making a wooden grid for a screen or floor register are examples that I have run into frequently in my carpentry career. These tasks can be quite painstaking in part because of all the repetitious steps, and in part because those steps require great precision. If you’re off by just a small fraction of an inch, you’re sunk; anyone’s eye can easily pick out off-parallel louvers or a slight variation in a closely spaced wooden grid.

With this type of work, I avoid doing a separate layout before making my cuts and instead build a jig that allows me to accurately position a router or saw at precise, repeatable increments. This not only saves the time of laying out each cut but also reduces the chances for introducing and compounding errors.

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