Hold down clamps and machine path

I’ve been using my Shapeoko until now for just carving/engraving using my own vacuum pods. Now I’m cutting wood and in need of hold down system. Side load clamps failed me today and my boards lost rigidity because of all the voids left by many tool paths.

I can switch to top loading clamps but I’ve got a couple questions. When you click start/begin on a file the bit enters at various directions and then exits a different path. How do you manage clamp placement to avoid colliding with clamps? I’ve never had to deal with this because I carve with vacuum pods.


I look at the preview of how the toolpaths and rapids will be arrayed in the 3D preview:

and strategize where to place clamps based on that — usually the Essentials clamps can be arranged so as to not be very high relative to the stock — one other option is to use flat plates/washers with holes in them — I have some which are cut from acrylic sheets and which can be cut away if need be.

One other option to consider is if the design has holes in it, to machine those first, then secure through those holes — I’ve used screws made of nylon or aluminum and have even allowed them to be partially cut away.


I also use nylon bolts for hold-down, have a bag full of them from my RC plane days, used them for fastening wings to fuselages when rubber bands was not suited.


Export your g code and load it on this web page. The you can watch an animation of the cut. There might be a better one it there.

Thanks for your reply’s. I went back and revisited my understanding and placement of tabs. Kinda of solved my situation. I’ll rephrase my question on another tread.


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