Wasteboard Setup and Tramming

Hi all,
I have been learning the CNC for about the last 18mos on weekends, spare time etc. Now that I have retired, I feel that I am now at the point where I would like to redo my waste board with T-Track and inserts as well as squaring and tramming the machine.

I have several questions after researching. What recommended order is there?
I would logically think that you would do the squaring before anything.

Do you level the waste board prior to tramming or tram before the waste board. It seems if either is off the other would be off… It is my impression tramming is going off of a perfectly flat waste board? Mine is mdf which is never ever flat due to several factors including humidity.

Also with drilling the pilots for the inserts, can you do that with the CNC and if so how? I have a 1/4 inch and an 1/8 inch endmill. Do I use the 1/8 inch to route a hole so many mm? Then come in and manually screw the inserts in?

Thanks in advance, I do appreciate this community!

This sort of thing can be a maddening, tail-chasing, circular merry-go-round.

Usually folks:

  • square things up as close to level as possible
  • tram the working area
  • place a reference surface on the working area — use that to tram the spindle
  • tram the working area (again)

Thanks for the quick response Will. Makes sense. I am assuming that when you put a reference surface on that has to be completely level, then that should in turn allow the second tram to be very close. Ok, think I got it.

How about the drilling of the pilots?

I think you flatten them tram then flatten slightly then tram again.

I think the general thought is that making the slats on the machine just takes too long. If you have a tablesaw and a drill press it will be much quicker. Use one of the old slats as a template but make sure they are all the same.

Stupidly I measured when drilling the holes on the drill press. Later I saw a post from someone on the forum that suggested using the old slat to set the hole locations. I should have done that as a few of mine were slightly off but workable.

Don’t worry about the thru hole being exact diameter. A little slop in there is probably a good idea for alignment ease.


Thanks Cullen, that is helpful. I don’t have a drill press unfortunately, on my wish list…

That makes the decision easier. Keep an old slat underneath when you do the thru holes. Or just use the CNC to make the pilot (and maybe the recess) and do the through hole by hand.

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