Last time I promised to show how I use a router for T-bolts, a very important part of my work holding methods. Since there are several different methods, your choice will be determined by both your equipment and your personal preference. I find I don’t do this the same way every time, basically because I live in a perpetual state of confusion. Actually, my methods are usually determined by several factors–like how many am I doing, what size are the pieces, or maybe even which of my tools are free at the moment. Unfortunately, some of my methods are not available to everyone. However, you may find them interesting anyway.
As I prepared for this blog, I discovered the method that most of you can do turned out to be the most logical way to do just a few slots. This method is not restricted to just slots for T-bolts either. I use a lot of slots for my jigs. For this you need a plunge router with an edge guide.
I laid out pencil lines to mark the ends of my slots. Usually the length of the slots are not critical so you can eyeball that as you route. Set the plunge depth to just over the thickness of your material. Be sure to clamp on top of a sacrificial board so you don’t ruin your workbench. For safety and convenience, do not attempt with out clamping. You cannot control the router with one hand. I like to do this in multiple passes. It is safer and does a better job. This is very basic for using a plunge router. Be sure and hold the edge guide firmly against the work piece. I know some of this I information is a bit basic, but I want anyone to be able to do this no matter what there experience level is.
This is what you end up with. This slot is done with a 3/8″ straight router bit. Then I changed to a 1/2″ bit to router the other side for the T-bolt head. Flip the work piece, clamp the piece and with the edge guide in the same position and referenced off the same edge route just deeper than the thickness of the bolt head.
I also use my router table for this application. I use the Woodpecker Sidewinder router lift. Unfortunately it has been discontinued. I choose it because you can raise the bit through the work piece with it in position. JessEm Tools makes a lift you can raise from the side, available from Woodcraft. I am not sure if anyone else does at this point. I used to have to drill a hole at the beginning of the slot and position over the router bit to start the slot.
I placed tape with pencil marks to show the start and stop positions marked on the work piece
With the bit running I can raise it with the side crank through the piece. Be very aware of the bit position and keep your hands away. The feather board helps maintain control as the bit plunges from the bottom. This method is similar to the first in principal. I frequently use a sled for very small pieces which I will cover in a later blog.
I use my Torque Work Center often for this, but since there are so few of these machines in the US, I won’t go into detail for this method. You can see this machine in some of my previous blogs.
And finally, you can just drill a series of overlapping holes with a drill press and clean out with a chisel, rasp, or file. Of course this is my least favorite method for obvious reasons! I did not show this because it seemed like too much work, although I have actually done this in the past.
I hope you find this informative and as always, let me know if you have questions.
I intend on doing a video soon to cover this more in depth if anyone is interested.