Get Woodworking 2015: Boot Jack
Have you ever wanted to get into woodworking but weren’t sure where to start? There is a great event in the woodworking community that happens every year and it’s geared towards people like you, the brand new woodworker. It’s called Get Woodworking Week and every year more and more articles and projects are put together as a way to encourage and teach people woodworking skills. I’ve always been a lurker but this year decided to write up a quick how-to on an easy starter project. The project is a very simple boot jack. A boot jack is used to help you take off your boots without mucking up your socks. The boot jack uses a consumer level jig saw as the only power tool. Let’s get started.
Jigsaws are a power tool that uses reciprocating action of the blade and cuts on the up stroke. This pulls the workpiece up against the shoe of the saw but can also cause tear-out (splintering) on the face that is facing up. For this reason be sure mark and cut with the less desirable face of the board facing up. Some saws come with orbital action which moves the blade forward while it is on the up stroke. This helps the saw to cut faster. For this project the speed of the cut is less important then the quality. Dial down the orbital action to help minimize tear out.
Gather your tools and supplies
This project uses only one power tool, a jigsaw, and a minimum of other tools. If you don’t own a jig saw, a $30-$50 consumer model would work just fine for this. I’m using RYOBI’s variable speed orbital jigsaw but almost any saw in this category will work fine. Other tools needed are a pencil, ruler (at least 12″), clamp, wood glue, safety glasses, sandpaper, and a cup of coffee. We are starting with an 18″ piece of 1×6. I’m using standard construction grade pine but oak, maple, or just about anything else will work fine. If you buy your board at the big box stores I think the minimum size you can get in 1×6 is 3′ long. They will be happy to cut that board in half for you right in the store so you can have two 18″ boards. Make a boot jack for a friend if you like!
Mark the straight cuts
The boot jack’s finished length will be right around 16″ but we start with an 18″ board so that 2″ can be buzzed off an end right away to be used later as a foot to hold the business end in the air. Take your ruler and mark 2″ from the end of the board along parallel edges and connect the marks to form a straight line. Clamp down your board and cut off the 2″ piece and set aside.
Next measure in 1″ from the sides of the board along one end. Then go to the opposite end of the board and measure down 4″ on each side. Connect the 4″ tick mark to the 1″ mark along the perpendicular face. This forms two long slim triangles. Cut these triangles off. While this step isn’t necessary for the function of the boot jack, it just gives it a subtle style.