lightbulb Question Simple and effective upgrade for clamping system

  • Majaza
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03 Mar 2019 01:10 #56043 by Majaza
I needed to be able to securely hold material that was much thicker than the standard Stepcraft clamping system would allow.
I don't have the aluminum plate base and I didn't trust that double sided tape would hold the workpiece securely enough.
After some tinkering, I managed to create a rather inexpensive and so far highly effective method of utilizing the existing clamping system and adding some pretty simple but incredibly useful components. Below are pictures (sorry for the poor lighting) and descriptions of what I did)

First thing I did was cut a piece of 1/4" aluminum T-slot track to the same length as the clamping system (minus the tabs on the ends)

I then taped this T-track to the clamping system. This allowed me to use the existing bolt holes in the clamping system as guides for my drill press.
I drilled small pilot holes into the T-track at the same location as each of the bolt holes in the Stepcraft clamping system.

I then drilled through the T-track with a drill bit slightly larger than the diameter of an M5 screw.

I bought low-profile 6mm M5 screws from an online maker store, these were the perfect size and length to secure the T-track to the clamping system. I bought 20 screws in order to ensure that I utilized every existing screw hole in the clamping system. I believe that this will help spread the tension on the clamping system.

Finally, I purchased 6x aluminum hold downs that I can slot into the t-track in order to secure down workpieces. This cost a little over 100$ Canadian and now allows me to clamp any size material to my work bed from 1/16" to almost 2" thick. An added benefit is that the tension from the clamping system presses against the stepcraft bed to further eliminate any 'wiggling' in the bed of the Stepcraft machine

This was, in my view, a very simple and relatively inexpensive upgrade, but one which has dramatically increased the usefulness of my Stepcraft clamping system. I think it would make a lot of sense to offer this as an upgrade for the standard machines.

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