Welcome Zen,Good to hear you are up and going and had a successful Hello World.
When i started out i had the rockler t-track,it held the stock great but i was having issues always running into the clamps.Ive since removed the t-track and gone with mdf with threaded inserts from the underside.Now that ive done that im finding myself using a hot glue gun or two sided tape.I really think its somthing upto the individual user to decide what works best for their situation and it may change often.
The suck it has been an amazing add-on,I highly recommend it if dust is a concern.
Ive recently done the T-track thing, my post here may give you some ideas. I’ve found the T-track from orangealuminum.com to be the cheapest date in town. I went with two 2" pieces of MDF, followed by 3", then 4" on my bed. I haven’t used it a ton yet, but it looks like it’ll be a winner. I’m also considering putting 1/4-20 threaded inserts in my MDF strips because I have a lot of clamps that work that way, plus I have tons of extra inserts laying around. I also plan to make/buy some t slot nuts so I don’t always have to use inverted bolts, again I have tons of 1/4-20 hardware. Mine:
Yep, I used the 36" T-track and screwed it to an 1 piece MDF waste board with #8 3/4" Phillips head pan screws, they come pre-drilled every 3" and this is the screw they recommend. I left 3/4" gap up front so I could get the 1/4-20 bolt heads in. The MDF slats are only 30" long though, that’s about the available travel on the bed to still be able to machine it flat. I used the XXL to drill the initial holes for the screws with a 0.0625" end mill and only went about 5/16" deep, After I had all of the T-track in place I used the XXL to cut 9mm holes for threaded inserts into the main waste board, then put the slats in and used the same centers to drill the holes and counterbores for 1/4-20 Allen head bolts with washers, then just bolted it all together and machined it flat. I used 9 T-tracks and my total flat MDF surface is 31" wide by 30" deep, I could have probably gotten a smidge more but I didn’t want to risk having an edge after I machined it flat. I don’t remember where I got the clamps, Amazon or Ebay most likely. They’re a little high profile for some stuff, that’s why I’m considering adding some more 1/4-20 inserts on the slats.
For spacing, I used various widths of PVC “lumber” which I use as a spoilboard — this is always a bit tricky — you want the smallest spacing to be equal to
smallest stock size + reach of smallest clamp
and the whole origin thing is a pain — front left corner would make the most sense, but it offends my sense of symmetry, and I find a centered arrangement convenient for some projects, and can usually work up workholding to as not to double any error from flipping things.
I used MDF for a spacerboard — plywood, even Baltic Birch as a bit too much variability, just seal it, or accept that you’ll want to surface or use some scrap for a fixture before any project (I usually use a chunk of MDF: https://www.shapeoko.com/projects/project.php?id=154 )
+1 on the SuckIt dust boot. I have (3) 48" T-Tracks for my XXL and I am still consternating over how I’ll use them (i.e. cut-size and spacing). In the meantime I’ve finally created a small surfaced board from 3/4" MDF with underside 1/4-20 T-nuts. I have bolted the surfaced board to my stock Shapeoko wasteboard which has 1/4-20 threaded inserts.
@stutaylo has a thread showing his track arrangement which has inspired me to consider a layout in the horizontal realm:
There are many examples of vertical spacing too as all the folks who have posted here have implemented and shared . At some point I’ll commit.
It’s all about the journey, and I’ve enjoyed it immensely…
It’s in the “Upgrades 1.x” series of posts, I think he gets to the part about the t-tracks at 1.4.
For me, I started with t-track, and later moved to a grid of holes in my CNC bed, because clamp posts sticking up from the t-track became a pain to plan safe z-heights around. For me, I decided screwing bolts down into the table farther (and taking more time to do so) was easier than worrying about posts sticking up higher than my clamps.
I also have a Suck-It dust boot, and give it a thumbs up. It’s not perfect, but it’s the closest I’ve seen and well worth the price.
I was also thinking of upgrading to T-track so all this info is nice. Thanks! In terms of the Suckit Dust Boot… I have a Suckit on both my machines. I highly recommend it! I won’t use my machines without it.
My current XXL setup is 3/4 MDF panels of increasing-ish width (2.5", 1", 3", 6", 10" and 10" or something like that – those aren’t the actual numbers but I don’t have actuals handy) arranged horizontally with t-track in between panels. The t-track tops are about .2" below the top of the MDF. MDF and t-track screwed to factory wasteboard.
I use cam clamps for most workholding. Very low profile, no dust boot trouble.
The MDF spoilboard does not cover the entire factory wasteboard. I deliberately made it small enough in every dimension so that the machine can surface the entire spoilboard flat.
I started out using T-track, since I was familiar with it doing traditional woodworking.
After about 6 months I switched to a system if 1/4" threaded inserts and 8mm dowels which works outstanding. It has fences, wedges, and you can make cam clamps. Originally designed for shopbot, I modified the proportions to work on the SO3.
I won’t go back to T-track for workholding on the CNC.
Referenced fences, WCS for different setups, and repeatable setups, once you get used to it, It’s hard to go back.
Craig: I’d love to see your steps for setting and using WCS for your repeatable setups. I was doing some cuts this weekend and it would have come in handy to have WCS set up. I have multiple identical pieces to cut, each requiring a tool change. I understand the premise of WCS, but I have not grasped how to set up 2 work locations and how to switch between work location 1 and 2 during the workflow.
Can you tell me more why you left the T-track route? I already made the purchase to do this but would love to understand the reasoning behind going to a different route. T-tracks make sense to my newbie brain…
Also, does everyone use hot glue or 2 sided tape for their projects? I would love to get away from that if possible.
I have the same question as you. I currently have a threaded insert wasteboard and have noticed some flaws in that concept. I was looking into going the T-track route, so I’m curious as to why someone doesn’t like it.
I’ve used both now and see pitfalls in both. Biggest thing for me currently using T-track is the height of most of the commercially available clamps and bolts, I could definitely go lower profile when using a threaded table and tall fixtures tend to be in the way of my dust boot. I think what I may ultimately do is add threaded inserts to the slats in between my T-tracks so I can have the best of both worlds. Also looking into making my own T-track clamps that will alleviate some of the height issues I have now with my store bought clamps.
My newbie-ness didn’t even know you could have some that lock from the side instead of holding down from the top. I’ll definitely look at investing in these (the rocklers look nice) once I get a few successes.