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Thread: Metal T track alternative

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Montreal , Quebec , Canada
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    3

    Metal T track alternative

    The use of T nuts and a track provides great functionality in many purchased and home made jigs, providing for easy positioning and securing of components, movable travel stops, hold downs and other valuable uses. I enjoy looking at the pictures and write-ups on the large variety of ingenious jigs that appear on this and other woodworking forums. They almost all incorporate one or more metal T tracks to enhance their functionality.

    I too have made many jigs incorporating t-nuts but have never used a metal T track. I use a T slot router bit to cut the slots directly into the jig material. I use a 5/16” straight cutter bit and rout a dado 3/8” deep using 2 or three passes and then finish with 1 pass of the T slot bit set to match the 3/8” depth. For my jigs I use either Baltic Birch or hardwoods such as maple or oak and have never had one fail on me as in breaking the slot when torquing down hard on a hold down for instance.

    From a cost standpoint you save on not purchasing the T track and producing one is quicker than grooving, fitting and screwing down the metal T track. If you are less than satisfied with your jig and decide to make a new “improved” one, your losses will be less as once you cut the metal track it may not be long enough or suitable for the revised jig.

    The bit I use was purchased from Lee Valley Tools and I am sure that there are other sources for the same kind of bit. For those of you into making your own jigs this might be of interest.

    Pictures attached
    1: The T-Slot bit (picture taken from Lee Valley Website)
    2: Drill press table (T slots for fence positioning, hold downs and fence stops)
    3: Close up of the end of the T slot
    4: Table saw cross cut jig (T slots for fence positioning and hold downs) Some of you have no doubt seen this jig on the internet; useful at times.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails T-Slot bit.jpg   T-slot end.jpg   Drill press table.jpg   Table saw cross cut jig.jpg  

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Spitting distance north of Detroit Michigan
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    That's great Robert, especially for those of us watching our pennies...Thanks for sharing and welcome to the family!
    The perception of perfection is perfectly clear to everyone else

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    Amherst, New Hampshire
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    10,604
    I've always wondered how well they would work. Thanks for the tip !!!!!

    Welcome to the family Robert !!
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    GTA Ontario Canada
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    Robert as Bob says welcome to the family.
    Thanks for the feedback on those bits, i too have wondered how well the slots work out.

    Sent from my SGH-I337M using Tapatalk
    cheers

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Yorktown, Virginia
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    5,014
    Robert,
    Welcome to the family. Glad you found us and thanks for the tip. Looks like that bit does the job.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Arkadelphia, Arkansas
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    139
    Welcome to the family Robert. Great tip. Prior to reading your post count me among the, 'It looks good, but I wonder if it works' folks.
    Norm

    I have a mind like a steel trap....
    ....rusty and illegal in 29 states.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Montreal , Quebec , Canada
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    Thanks for the nice welcomes, it gives a warm feeling and motivation to greater participation.

    Regards to all.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Independence MO
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    I find this interesting and wonder if you have ever used that in MDF (one time jig/template thing)?

    Also, have you ever found that it was better to use a metal track? (long term item, such as a router table fence, verses remaking it)

    Thanks

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
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    9,076
    Quote Originally Posted by Randal Stevenson View Post
    I find this interesting and wonder if you have ever used that in MDF (one time jig/template thing)?

    Also, have you ever found that it was better to use a metal track? (long term item, such as a router table fence, verses remaking it)

    Thanks
    Not trying to answer for Robert but, I will share my experience, such as it is. I use both. the only time I have had a t-slot cut into material fail is when I used one in BB plywood but, I guess I should have seen that one coming. The application was a for a holddown and the ply delaminated under stress. I have used slots in hardwoods that have a tight grain like Beech and maple without issue. For t-slots in MDF I have also been successful for things like stop blocks and featherboards (shearing pressure) but, would hesitate to use this for holddowns (pullout pressure). MDF has no grain and, just as with shallow screws, slots have minimal pullout resistance.

    For stop blocks in MDF slots I use a tongue that is just shy of the slot depth to avoid crushing the material while tightening. A screw is a very powerful 'machine' and a dented or crushed section of MDF material can make sliding difficult or lead to material failure under stress. For my type of featherboards in MDF slots I just have to remember to use only the amount of tension required to hold the jig and take care not to crush the materiel.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    One of my efforts in my jig design is to keep things light. This can mean the use of a thinner material than one that would support a slot for a holddown function. In those cases I use track. The MDF slots I have for stop blocks and featherboards have been in use for many years without failure. My router table top also uses t-bolts in MDF through-slots to hold the fence. This system also have been in use for many years without issue but, could be prone to crushing problems if you are heavy handed.
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 12-26-2014 at 10:19 PM. Reason: punct.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  10. #10
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    @ Glenn: I have not seen the t-track with the right angle mounting leg. Source?
    ++++++

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