Landscape Fabric Jigs

This month, we built Floret Flowers' landscape fabric jigs for burning holes that will help us evenly place flowers as we plant out our seedlings and tubers this spring. 

Our plans follow Floret's spacing guidelines. Our new beds (on our new farm!) will be four feet across, with 18-inch aisles, in most cases. We saw this great blog post and decided to figure out how to make these jigs to save time burning holes in our landscaping fabric and, in turn, save time weeding later on this summer. 

I had a little trouble finding the 4ft by 2ft sheet metal at first. Our local Home Depot didn't carry it so I looked online and found that it could be ordered and picked up at a nearby Ace Hardware. Now I can't find it on their website, though. Lowe's seems to be the place to go. If you look online you might find that a store near you has the product in stock. You'll need one sheet for each jig you'd like to make. Floret described plans for 6in x 6in plant spacing, 9in x 9in, 12in x 12in, and 18in x 18in. They also have suggestions for spacing for sweet peas.

I chose not to make jigs for the 18in x 18in spacing guide (you can't actually fit that many holes on a 4ft x 2ft jig) or for the sweet peas--as there are just 2 rows per bed. I bought our 2.5in hole dozer from Home Depot. I also used a large carpenter's square and a permanent marker. 

I put a couple of extra pieces of plywood under the sheet metal and I cut the holes right there in our sunroom with an electric drill and the 2.5in bit.

There were a lot of wood and metal shavings to sweep up in the end. If you tackle this job inside, be sure to keep the kids and pets at bay until you've had a chance to clean up well. 

When I first sat down to work on this project I thought it would be simpler than it was. It turned out that I needed to do a bit of triangulation to figure out the proper placement for the holes. The goal is to have each hole equidistant from its neighboring holes. The holes should form the points of equilateral triangles.

Here are some detailed instructions and diagrams to save you time with the measuring:

For a 6in x 6in jig, find the midpoint on one of the long (4ft) sides of the sheet. Use the square to draw a perpendicular line that divides the sheet into two 2ft x 2ft sections. Measure down 3 inches from the top of the sheet along your midpoint line and make an "x" to mark your first hole. Measure down another 6 inches and make an "x". Repeat that process 2 more times. The last hole should be 3 inches from the bottom of the sheet. From there, follow the diagram below to find the other points. 

 Our 6in x 6in hole-burning jig.

Our 6in x 6in hole-burning jig.

For a 9in x 9in jig, find the midpoint on one of the long (4ft) sides of the sheet. Use the square to draw a perpendicular line that divides the sheet into two 2ft x 2ft sections. Measure down three inches from the top of the sheet, along your line, and mark an "x". Measure down 9in from there for the second hole, and another 9in for the last hole. Again, the last hole will be three inches about the bottom edge. Follow this diagram to measure and mark the locations for the remaining holes.

 Our 9in x 9in hole-burning jig.

Our 9in x 9in hole-burning jig.

For a 12in x 12in jig, repeat the same procedure and find the midpoint on one of the long (4ft) sides of the sheet. Use the square to draw a perpendicular line that divides the sheet into two 2ft x 2ft sections. Measure down three inches on the middle dotted line and mark an "x" for the first hole. Measure down 12 inches from there and mark the second "x." You'll only fit 2 holes along the line this time. Follow the diagram to measure and mark the locations of the remaining holes. 

 Our 12in x 12in hole-burning jig.

Our 12in x 12in hole-burning jig.

When you're done marking your sheets, set them on top of a couple of boards that you don't mind cutting into. The hole drill bit will go below the sheet metal, so be careful as you go and check your first cut to make sure you're not damaging the floor below. I found that the drill created quite a bit of torque as I was cutting. I stood on top of the sheets, used my weight to pin them down, and tried to hold the drill nice and straight and with a good amount of pressure. 

When you are done making the holes, place your metal carpenter's square on top of the edge of each jig, but allow about an inch of the sheet metal to stick out. If you stand on the square on top of the sheets, you can use gloved hands to pry up and bend slightly about an inch of each jig (you can see this in my photos--an important step so that your jig doesn't keep snagging your fabric as you work), as recommended by Floret. This will allow the jigs to be pulled smoothly along your the length of landscape fabric when you are burning the holes. 

I still need to drill two small holes along one long side of each jig in order to attach a homemade wire handle, but I'm excited to have nearly finished this project. I can't wait to use these jigs this spring!

The Floret post had good tips for buying the right type of landscape fabric. You'll also need a Bernzomatic torch to burn the holes (see if you can find the attachment that will allow you to stand while using the torch--big time saver--and the torches don't like to be turned upside down). You'll need to do the hole burning outside on a dry day. Hope these notes will save you some time and energy. 

Until next time,