Introduction: T-Track Clamps
Ok everyone, let's keep those fingers a lot safer!
I have needed to make a set of T-track hold down clamps for quite a while now. Ever since I made my crosscut sled I went without clamps until now. And of course this can put the fingers in danger when they get to close to the blade. I REALLY should have made these sooner as they really would have been useful in my 1000 piece cutting board project (Video).
So to keep my fingers safer I quickly sketched up a design in Sketchup and made these clamps out of walnut and maple.
If interested you may download the free plans for these clamps from my website. Ltdwoodworks.com
If you would like to see how I made my table saw sled you can check out the video here.
The brass knobs were custom made by Austin over at High Caliber Craftsman.
High Caliber Craftsman is an awesome machinist and custom writing pen maker. His YouTube channel is here.
And his website where he sells his handmade pens is here.
Wood. I used maple and walnut.
One inch wood dowel.
Band saw or Coping Saw
T-bolts and turn knobs. I made my own bolts and knobs were custom made but here's a great option.T-Slot Clamp
The above links are affiliate links for some of the items I use. This
means if you purchase anything through these links I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Just a small way to support my channel.
Step 1: Design Process
Using the SketchUp program I quickly knocked out this simple design. I already knew that I wanted to use walnut and maple that I had in the shop so that's the reasoning behind making it out of pieces rather than one solid piece of wood. This also makes it easier to incorporate the angle needed for the clamp to tilt up. Note the 4th picture and the piece on the right. That straight line angle is what I am referring to. Actually it's this angled piece and the half round dowel that allows the clamp to rotate up for thicker pieces of wood.
As stated before you may download and print these for free from my website at LTD Woodworks.com
Step 2: Prepare the Side Pieces
One step not shown is I had already prepared the pieces of wood to be used in this project. All I did was cut the pieces out to rough size on the table saw and then ran them through my power planer.
Once that was done I cut out the template and used it to place double sided tape on 3 of the pieces of wood. Using the template I was able to place the tape in "the body" of the template so that when I cut the template out the four pieces would still be stuck together.
Once they were taped together I sprayed on some spray adhesive and glued the template onto the wood.
Step 3: Cut the Side Pieces Out.
Using my band saw I cut as close to the line as possible. This will help some sanding time in the future.
Step 4: Finish the Shape
Using my spindle sander I sanded down to the line of the template. Having a one inch round sander made quick work of getting the half round section just right.
Once sanding was complete I separated the four pieces using a chisel and set the pieces aside.
Step 5: Cut Out Middle Pieces.
Using the same method as the out side pieces I cut out the templates and adhered them to the maple wood. Then at the band saw again I cut them out. But this time I left about a 1/16" to 1/8" extra outside the line of the template. I wanted some extra so that it could be sanded down to match the size of the walnut sides.
Step 6: Assemply Time!
Now that all the pieces were cut out it's time to glue them together. I started by removing as much of the paper template as I could and sanded off the rest with my orbital sander using rough 80 grit.
Once that was done, I drew guide lines on the internal sides of the walnut pieces. These will help me keep the maple pieces in the right location during glue up.
Now I added some glue and a bit of salt. Yes, salt. If you haven't seen this trick before it helps to keep the glued pieces from sliding around during the clamp up stage. But one thing I learned the hard way is don't use too much. The smallest pinch will do just fine. Literally a few grains. Too much will negatively effect the glue and you will have to do it all over again.
Once all the pieces were glued, I used a dowel to help get them lined up just right and clamped them to my work bench to dry.
Step 7: A Couple of Other Things Needed.
While the main clamps were drying I used this time to make a couple of other things needed.
First was to make the half round pieces that would be on top of the clamps. I cut off a length with my crosscut sled on the table saw first. Then using a clamp to hold the piece I cut it in half using my band saw. Once that was done I drilled a hole in the center the same diameter of the bolt to be used.
And for the bolt I had to make my own T-bolts. The custom made brass turn knobs had a 5/16-18 thread. So the quickest route for me was to buy two bolts at the local big box store and make my own T-bolts. I'm sure someone out there sells them ready to go but I didn't want to spend the time looking and waiting for shipping. A few minutes at the grinder makes quick work to make your own.
Step 8: Finishing Touches.
Now I spent a lot of time sanding. Lots and lots of sanding. The hard maple I used made it a challenge to sand down to the same level as the walnut. But once down I used my trim router with a small 1/8" round over bit and rounded over the outside edges. I then sanded down everything with 220 grit sandpaper (not shown).
To finish the clamps I put on a coat of boiled linseed oil.
And just in case you do not already know, be sure to spread out your towel that you use to apply the boiled linseed oil in a safe area. Meaning if you left it "balled" up it might self combust. I lay mine outside until dry and dispose of it from there.
Step 9: Assemble and Use.
Now all that's left is to put them together and use. First slide the half round dowel onto the T-bolt and then thread the turn knob onto the bolt. Once this is done push these through the clamp from the top side and put the head of the T-bolt into your T-track.
Now you can just turn the knob to loosen or tighten the clamp onto the wood to be cut.
Having these clamps will make your fingers A LOT safer! We all know that we need to be careful in our shops. And keeping your fingers away from a spinning table saw blade is one of the most important things.
Stay safe out there!