Work Holding Solutions: Sometimes There Isn't Room for Clamps

First, I must confess that this idea isn’t 100% mine. This is something I picked up as a manager working at JPL. FACT: We were not allowed apply clamps while machining optics (glass), and as a necessity, my guys would use an expensive temperature controlled hot plate, and some expensive adhesive to hold down the glass. Well, I don’t have money for an expensive temperature controlled hot plate, and the expensive adhesive, but what I have is a Salvation Army used $5 Flat Iron and some hot glue from the 99 cent store .

I usually try to but my stock with material so I can use the threaded holes in my metal table, but I shop for my material at the remnant bin at a local metal supplier ($2lb for Aluminum), and sometimes I end up with a piece of material that will just fit my part, OR my design and desire is to do as much machining on one side, that I can’t clamp or bolt the part down.

Today’s part was just that, so here is my 6.900" Pulley for my Power Hack Saw project. I was able to machine the OD, Belt Face, ID, C’Bore and Spokes (after facing the part to thickness). NOTE: I have NEVER lost a part due to lack of adhesion, even though I use WD40 as a cutting lubricant, and sometime have minor crash (like today).

The part is easily removed within just a few minutes back on the Flat Iron, and the glue residue is easily removed with a few drops of isopropyl. Here is a video I did a few months back. Works better than Double sided tape, Super Glue and the cost is fractions of a cent. Try it you’ll like it. Feel free to hit me upi with any questions (after viewing the video)


First Side Complete (Penny for Scale)

Part freshly removed from the Aluminum Glue Plate (Back Side)

Chips Ahoy

Part is faced to the final thickness, and it’s flat within 0.001" (Note the paper shims to correct for the tolerance of the rails)

Back on the Flat Iron after the completion of the first side


Cool post. I am sure this is a reasonably known thing to many of you, but I am intrigued by the can of WD-40 you have mounted there. I assume it somehow is rigged to auto-lube your cutter?

Yup. About 4 drops a minute.

That particular WD40 can trick is ingenious, and hadn’t seen such a widget before… where can I find the details to make or buy such a setup? Does it have to be aerosol, or have you setup other drip-lube configurations with non-pressurized lubricants?

That’s great. I love the photo of the S3 full of aluminum chips!


Also, I see you’ve got a wooden chip barrier running along the inside edge of your So3 rail in the third image, I presume that’s not against the extrusion because of the carriage, so is it just fastened with an angle bracket to the table or something for keeping mess contained?

Those are just 3/4 x 3.5" just pine boards from Home Depot. I milled a small groove (to clear the V-Wheel nuts) to allow the boards to get closer to the aluminum rails. I also planed the bottom with a slight angle to the boards lean towards the rails. Nothing hold then in place (well except gravity). They keep the chips (and I do make a LOT of chips) away from the bottom V-Wheels. Hope tis helps.


I’ll make a “how to” post on this WD40 drip system in the near future.

FYI: A coated cutter seldom need lubricant to stop chips from sticking to the end mill. I was testing a new spindle, and running the machine harder than I normally would, and had the drip system there as insurance. (Set to about 4 drips a minute,.) PS It’s non-aerosol in this configuration.

More about that in the upcoming How To post.

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Now Im going to be saying “Chips Ahoy” for the rest of the day like a Pirate.