The quality of jig and fixtures in your workshop greatly influences the ease and speed at which you get projects done. So, having a variety around to help you deal with unconventional workpieces is always a great idea.
In this article, we will show you how you can create a set of easily adjustable T-Track Hold Down clamps. With these clamps, you’ll be able to hold down your workpieces for a variety of operations like drilling, milling, routing, etc.
Even better, you’re going to be making the clamps out of wood, making them the cheaper option. So, let’s start building them!
What you’ll need
To build the T-Track hold-down clamps, you’ll need some items from the hardware store. They include.
- 10mm Thick Plywood
- 15mm Thick Plywood
- 2 M8 Tee Nuts
- 2 M8 x 100mm T slot bolts
- Wood Varnish
Paste the Pattern on The Wooden Board
Take the 10mm thick board and place it on the workbench. Apply wood glue to the bottom of each pattern and paste them on the wooden board.
There should be three templates on the wooden board. Be careful when pasting the patterns to avoid rumpling them.
Cut Out the Patterns from The Wood
First, using the appropriate spade drill bit, cut out the hole in the middle of each template. Next, divide each template right down the middle to form boomerang-shaped halves.
After that, cut out each boomerang shape from the wooden board.
Cut Out the Middle Pattern for the Clamp
After cutting, you should have six of the boomerang shapes on your workbench. Take two out of the six and set them aside.
Using a bandsaw, cut out the outlined part on the paper in the middle on both blanks. Keep all sections of the boomerang, they will be necessary for the clamp.
Remove any leftover pieces of paper from the wooden blanks.
Assemble The Clamp’s Jaws
It’s time to assemble the clamp’s jaws. Gather all six boomerang-shaped parts and place them on the workbench.
You’re going to assemble them in threes. Place one full boomerang on the bottom and add wood glue to its top surface.
Next, place a boomerang with its middle section cut out on top of it. Don’t add the middle section.
Make sure their edges line up properly and add glue to both surfaces.
Finally, add glue to another complete boomerang’s bottom and place it on top of both to complete the stack. Make sure all their edges line up perfectly.
Do the same for the second set of boomerangs. Now, you have the jaws for your T-track clamps.
Clamp both jaws together with some wood clamps until the glue dries.
Sand The Jaws
After the glue dries, remove the clamps from the jaws. Using a belt sander, clean up the edges and faces of the jaws.
Remove any leftover glue and make sure all the layers of the jaws are flush with each other.
Create a Jig for The Top Part of The Clamp
The top part of the clamp is a cylindrical piece that’s going to sit in the recess of the jaws. So, you need to create the cylindrical piece with a jig.
To create the jig, clamp a 2” wide and 3” thick block of wood to your drill press. Remember the hole in the initial template?
Drill a hole with the same size diameter (24mm) as that hole in the wooden block with a spade bit.
Make sure the hole you drill is close to the edge of the block. Using a table saw, trim a bit of material off the edge of the block to create a crack that opens up the hole a bit.
Don’t let the crack span the thickness of the jig., just about half or ¼” will do. Remove the blade from a plane and place it right on top of the crack in the jig
Using a G-clamp, clamp the jig right on top of the plane’s blade to your workbench with the side with the crack facing out.
Create The Cylindrical Rod
Take a 30 x 30mm wooden rod and fit it tightly into a socket adapter for a drill. Make sure it fits in tightly and it isn’t able to move about in the socket adapter.
You can use a knife to trim its end so it fits better into the socket. Next, use the same knife to taper the other end of the rod so it can fit into the hole in the table jig.
Attach the socket adapter to the drill and power it on. As the drill is rotating the wooden rod, pass the rod through the hole in the jig gradually.
Continue doing this until the entire length of the rod is cylindrical. Finish off the cylindrical rod by rotating it against some sandpaper.
Cut Out the Clamp’s Top Part from The Cylindrical Rod
After cleaning the rod up with sandpaper, remove it from the socket attachment. Using a meter rule and a pencil, mark out two 30mm sections from the rod.
Cut them out using a table saw. These are the top parts of the clamp that will stay in the recess of the clamp’s jaws.
Drill Holes in The Center of The Top Parts
Clamp the two pieces you just cut in a bench vise or any other suitable vise. Mark out a point in the middle of both top parts along their length.
Using an M9 bit, drill a hole at that point that passes completely through the top part. This will be the hole for the clamp’s screw.
Cut a Jig for The Clamp’s Star Knob
The clamp’s handle is what you’ll turn to adjust the height and the grip of the clamp. To create it, you’ll need to first design a jig for cutting it.
The jig is called a star knob jig and you can learn how to create one in this video.
Cut Out the Clamp’s Star Knob
From the 15mm thick plywood, cut out two circles with a diameter of 70mm using a hole saw. Drill a hole with the M5 bit in the middle of the circular pieces.
Mark out three equally spaced points on the edge of one of the circular pieces. Remove the wing nut and washer on the jig and place the circular part inside the screw.
Replace the wing nut and the washer. Make sure the center of the drill is offset 40mm away from the center of the jig.
Using a 32mm circular bit, drill through the edges of the circular blank at each of the three positions you marked.
After drilling, remove the knob and do the same for the second one. Now, you have the star knobs for your T-Track clamp.
Add Varnish to the Surface
Take linseed oil or your favorite varnish and apply a few drops to all the wooden parts. Use a rag to spread and apply the varnish all over the surface of the wood.
Widen The Holes on The Star Knobs
Clamp both handles on the drill press platform using a wooden clamp. Widen them using the appropriate bit, so they can fit the M8 Tee nuts.
Add Tee Nuts to The Star Knob
Place one of the Tee nuts into the hole in one of the star knobs, press it down, and remove it. The sharp points on the nut will leave four marks around the holes.
Using a 0.5mm bit, drill holes at each of those four marks. Place the Tee nut back in the hole on the handle and be careful to line up its sharp point with the holes you just drilled.
Use a squeeze clamp to push the nut into the hole. You can also use a mallet if a squeeze clamp isn’t available.
Do the same for the second star knob.
Assemble The Clamps
Everything is nearly complete, now all you have to do is just assemble the clamps. Take an M8 bolt and insert it into one of the clamp’s jaws with its head facing down.
Next, place one of the top cylindrical parts into the recess on the jaw and onto the bolt. After that, screw on a washer followed by one of the handles with the Tee nuts facing up.
Do the same for the second set of parts.
Viola, your T-Track clamps are complete. Just slide the head of the bolt into the T-track on your workbench and you’re good to go.
Now, you can easily clamp your flat pieces for drilling, milling, and many other operations.
If you enjoyed making this project, you can find many useful ones just like it on the Mazay DIY YouTube channel. You can also check their website for detailed plans and CAD models of DIY projects. If you want to have the template, you can download the template for the T-track template here. You will need three of the patterns.