Introduction: T-Track Clamp CNC Upgrade
We added t-track clamps to our X-Carve to make it easier to clamp things, set jigs, and use less material. We brainstormed and sketched a lot until we came up with the simplest clamping solution we could think of: 2 t-tracks running perpendicular on 2 sides, and an "L" shaped wood bracket that our t-track clamps can clamp against.
It helps us set up jigs which is great when we are making multiples of the same cut, but it also allows us to use less stock because it can clamp from the sides instead of the top. Win win!
All the files for this project are here if you'd like to use them to make your cuts or for reference: https://goo.gl/mmNh82
Step 1: Measure/plan
The super exciting (and crucial) first step: measure and plan your t-track position! Yes, generally they make an L on the outer edge of your CNC, but there were a few things we kept in mind for the exact positioning:
- We made sure we weren't going to hit any of the threaded brass inserts on our X-Carve wasteboard. Not all wasteboards will have these, but if yours does, just keep that in mind.
- We made sure we'd have enough room to insert the clamp feet and slide them into the t-tracks. We made our cuts a little longer on both sides after where the t-track would end.
- Make sure your clamp, when in the t-track, won't be so close to the CNC rails that it hits one.
Once we made sure all those boxes were checked, we sharpied out where we wanted to mark our cuts and did an "air run" of the machine (where we don't turn on the spindle and don't have it move down in the axis, just moving in the x and y above the wasteboard). This helped us double check to make sure our CAM was right before we actually made our cuts.
Step 2: Carve Wasteboard
We go into more detail in our video, but we chose for the t-track to start at 5 cm in the X direction and 2 cm in the Y direction and that’s what our file is setup to cut. Again, you can download our file (it's linked in the beginning of this tutorial) but you could also just use it for reference and adjust for your needs. We used a 1/4" flat endmill to cut the track for our t-track into the waste-board.
Step 3: Cut Track to Length
We used a nonferrous metals blade on our miter saw to cut the t-track to length, and it cut like butter. The cool thing about aluminum is you can work with it on most woodworking tools. We cut the x axis track to 25.25". We cut the y-axis track to 26.25".
Step 4: Insert the Track
We centered the track into the cut we made, leaving enough room to install the clamps. Then we screwed the clamp into the wasteboard.
Step 5: Cut L Brackets
The L brackets are what your clamps will push against. They have holes in them that line up with the threaded inserts in the X-Carve wasteboard, but you can add your own threaded inserts to your wasteboard if you don't have them already. We used plywood so that it would be strong in all directions and made 2 different sized L's to start with, a small and a medium.
Here is the small: https://goo.gl/w5Urp9
Here is the medium: https://goo.gl/nkRM2R
These brackets work best for right angles, but technically you could make custom ones for different angles or odd shapes!
Step 6: Enjoy!
We tested it out, cutting a few multiples of the same piece, and so far it's working great!
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