I've got a small Sherline lathe and mill in my personal model shop and the thought of dragging a steel T-Slot cleaner through comparatively delicate anodized aluminium T-slots on the table of the mill and cross slide of the lathe makes me shudder.
If you're not familiar, a T-slot cleaner is a small tool used to remove the chips of metal the accumulate all over the place while machining. Lots of chips end up in the bottom of the T-slots on the machine and it can be difficult to remove them due to the nature of the T-slot's shape. It has a smaller opening that overhangs a wider slot at the bottom of the channel. This is necessary to allow a T-nut to have something to be trapped under so it can be used with a nut and bolt to clamp parts to be machined (or tools in the case of lathe work) securely to the table. The picture below shows my custom T-slot cleaner fitted into its intended T-slot on my small mill.
I had some scrap acrylic plastic laying around and with the help of a laser cutter at TechShop Detroit it was a super easy process to produce a custom fit T-slot cleaner that wouldn't damage the machine parts.
Step 1: Take Measurements of Your Machine's T-Slots
I measured both the mill and the lathe and took notes in my project notebook.
Step 2: Draw Your Custom Shape and Set Up to Cut
In the photo I have placed my piece of scrap acrylic in the laser, focused on the top surface and verified that I have enough unused area on the scrap piece to cut out my T-slot cleaner.
Step 3: Engrave Identification on the Handle
The laser can both cut and engrave into all sorts of material, so this is a super simple thing to toss into the project and generally class things up.
Look close at the photo and you can see the white hot tiny flame as the protective paper and first layer of plastic are burned away to form the engraved text.
Step 4: Cut Out the Outline
Step 5: All Done!
Just remove the protective paper backing and you've got yourself a lovely, laser customized, non-marring T-slot cleaner!