Habitat for Humanity East Bay - Oakland, California

Tools and Tips from our Affiliate 



For the past several years John Lee has been involved with Habitat for Humanity. He loves to tinker and invent and make tools which make volunteers work more productively.  Use anything you get here as you wish.  There is no implied warrantee or instruction manual, so use these as-is, and most importantly - with general good safety practices.


Click Here for our Habitat Information



Click on any picture for more detail

Click on download button to save a PDF drawing


Index - click to jump


Laser Plumb - Make it easy to use a laser plumb to true up your walls

Saw table and Fence - Use your portable saw for large sheets of plywood

Dedication Key - make a special remembrance for the dedication ceremony

Porch rail jig - Easy to make baluster assembly

Plate to plate level - Use a 4 foot level to check 9 foot walls

Easy Coping - simple jig to use a roto-zip for making copes for base molding

Barge rafter hanging jig - trying to get fascia and barge (gable)  rafter on before scaffolding?

Vacuum up siding dust - cut Hardieplank with a skillsaw - collect the dust

Laser Plumb Bob

The now inexpensive Laser plumb bobs are great for truing up walls.  But it was taking time to use a tape measure or putting the laser on the bottom plate.  Simply putting the device on a piece of scrap with the tripod screw and making a matching target now allows easy use.  And this is very volunteer friendly.  Get the details by clicking on the picture or the PDF button.

  PDF File


Parallelogram Saw Fence

We have made a field table for our Dewalt portable table saw(a great unit). The table can stay out at night and just the saw locked up. The fence we have made for it is based on a model of an older unit owned by our construction manager that does not appear to be for sale anymore. It is a parallelogram that always stays parallel to the blade. It can be repositioned fairly easily for cutting 4x8 sheets of plywood in half (great for roof overhangs) by even one person. (Guard removed for clarity)

Saw Fence Drawing

Here is a PDF Drawing.  Right Click on the button below and do a "Save target As" or just click on it and save it within Adobe Viewer.  This certified to be 100% virus free by McAfee.  Feel free to e-mail me with any questions.

jlee@johnrlee.com                                        PDF File


Dedication Key

Our dedication ceremonies consist of dignitaries (like AmeriCorps) presenting the new homeowners a book of faith, a hammer and a new "key to their home".  We use salvaged scrap lumber from the job.  Usually that is some of the trim broads from windows and siding.  That mills very nicely and our Superintendent loved that we find a use of the pesky 3' scraps that don't fit anywhere else.        PDF File

Porch Rail Jig

Chrissy, our fearless superintendent, became concerned when a few of her more experienced volunteers took an entire Saturday to make a porch rail for a house.  Oh No! 13 more to go.  This jig took us 4 hours to make and we got to 5 homes per day with a crew of four.  And the quality was consistent. Juan and 'Everyday' Mike show how we could work several rails at the same time.                 PDF File

Big Red Reborn

For those of you with framing experience, you know that level, plate to plate, is one of the most important things you can do in home construction.  Her John makes a special adapter for a standard 4 foot level to make that task easy and accurate.  The unit is painted red in honor of the factory made unit (no longer made) that served us so well in Oakley.  [Drawing to follow]

Easy Coping

John and Anna (Americorps) proudly show off the rotozip coping jig for base molding.  Just some Plexiglas to make it easy to see and an angle of about 30 degrees for the back cut. We show the angle cut to make for left and right copes in John's hand.

[Drawing to follow]


Wow, the peak of that roof is pretty high! How will we get the fascia trim on from just ladders or hanging over the edge? 

These two jig tools hold the wood in place while you adjust and then nail it permanently. Click on the button for a few more pictures and some details.

PDF File


Chrissy loves the smooth cut of a Skilsaw and diamond blade for her James Hardie plank siding.  But the dust is terrible!  Here we retrofit a standard Skilsaw with a dust port, automatic switch and standard shop vac from Sears.  Click on any picture for a larger shot and on the button for a PDF file to trace your cuts and a materials list.

PDF File

Back to top