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What is a Jig Borer?

By Klaus Strasser
Updated May 17, 2024
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The jig borer is a machine tool that is generally used to locate and drill holes in a fast and accurate manner. It typically resembles a vertical milling machine. One can also be employed to drill holes in jigs and dies. It is usually classified as a type of milling machine, which are tools used for the shaping of metal and other similar materials.

Jigs are types of tools that are basically used to confirm the location and motion of a tool. This aids in the exact reproduction and duplication of a part of the manufacturing process. For example, a drill jig may be able to drill a series of precisely-sized holes in exact locations. They are primarily employed by metalworkers, woodworkers, and craftsmen. Some types of jigs are referred to as guides or templates.

In one way, the jig borer can be thought of as helping to eliminate the necessity of a drill jig. This is because it can incorporate three tasks simultaneously: drilling, locating, and spacing holes. Since the drill jig is limited in its ability to accurately determine hole center location, the jig borer was an important development. It was independently invented, in both America and Switzerland, in the early 20th century.

Many times jig borers are used after holes have been made in a piece of material by another machine. It can then be used to locate holes, or make them more exact, by enlarging them in small increments. These tools are usually fitted with circular or rotary tables in order to create exact circular measurements. Some jig borers can make holes at a distance of tenths, which is a unit that means one ten-thousandth of an inch (0.00254 cm).

Tool historians often note that the jig borer is a precursor to modern machine and assembly technology. This is because its capability to perform multiple functions helped pave the way for more complicated production machines. It can also be viewed as contributing to the gradual elimination of the machine operator, due to its multi-task abilities.

Some new technologies that have been invented to work with the jig borer include a jig borer microscope. This instrument can allow the machine's axis to be clearly identified using a datum that is located on the microscope. The operator of the microscope can employ its high-powered optics to examine a piece of material when it is in the jig borer, and thereby observe the types of holes the machine is producing, or if it is functioning properly.

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