Yes, the dovetail connectors are an old concept that's been excessively tested and proven to work well. Virtually all old metalworking and industrial manufacturing equipment use "dovetail gibbs" to remove play and maintain alignment reliably. We simply took the same concept used in $20,000+ machinery and applied it to a track system.
Simply flip the tracks over and slide the connectors into the two parallel dovetail grooves. Tightening the set screws in the connectors up will force the dovetails to line up with one another, aligning the tracks.
Manufacturing is all about tolerances - You should expect 1/32" deviation on an 8ft cut, usually less. Woodworking is a horrible place to use thousandths of an inch measurements, but the individual tracks usually vary 5-8 thou (~1/128") from one end to the other, so "the best" you should expect would be about 1/64" deviation, on an 8ft long cut. It's precise.
Nope. Shipping is an absolute nightmare, handling them is a pain, and there's no reason to. Aluminum extrusion tolerances are based on "deviation per foot", meaning if you extend the length the allowable window for a "good part" increases. Longer single extrusion doesn't end up more accurate, and our system was designed to go together easily and accurately from the get-go.
If you experience a slight bow where the tracks join, 99% of the time this is due to one of the cross-cut faces not being exactly 90 degrees - Simply leave a business card width of space between the tracks and re-tighten the connectors. If the cross-cut faces touch and are off, they will override the connectors ability to align the tracks. Simple fix that rarely has to happen.
Yes - The strips are in small t-slots, so simply slide the old ones out, slide in new ones, and re-trim with your saw and blade.
You will need to replace the strips with a new set (along with a new Zero Clearance Block) if you take your saw off the plate/put a new saw onto the old plate, or change to a different thickness of blade. Same blade to a new identical one is usually just fine.
Heavy consistent woodworking use, around 2 years. Consistent concrete or metal cutting, 8~10 months or so
Brush them off with your hand or a damp rag if particles get stuck to the strips, but the 'anti-skid' isn't adhesive based so most stuff brushes right off.
Yes, simply grab a 57, 48, or 24 inch extension kit and it'll bolt together with no issues for your longer capacities down the road.
Yes, we absolutelyhate forced obsolescence - The 11 gentlemen who purchased our track systems at the first woodworking show we ever attended in 2009 will -always- be able to use any new accessories we come out with in the future.
Johnson's Paste Wax - Works great. Apply to both the track and the plate.
Track Saw Questions
Yes - It's massively unlikely you'll find a "normal" 6-1/2, 7-1/4, or 8-1/4 inch bladed circular saw that won't be able to be adapted to our system.
Why? Because the adapter plate is flat on top. The metal base of virtually every circular saw in production is flat on the bottom. Those two surfaces touch, and the only reference we draw from or care about is the body of the blade itself. So, quite literally, the metal base doesn't matter where it ends up, what it looks like, or where the mounting hardware ends on on the metal shoe of your saw.
You will have to drill your own unique/custom holes for mounting your saw to our adapter plate. As for where to drill, anywhere that is flat on our adapter plate is fair game - Do not put mounting hardware on the beveled edges machined into the bottom, as that's the part that rides on the track.
There are four brass inserts in the adapter plate, but those are -not- for mounting your saw - They're for mounting either the Zero Clearance Block or Dust Collection Nozzle to the adapter plate.
Yes, it is best to countersink to keep the heads of the mounting hardware from scratching or catching on the track itself.
We don't use clamps because they're inconsistent. It doesn't matter how particular you are, unless you're using a Haimer-style gauge and measuring down to 0.0005 you're not getting the saw and blade in the same place repeatably.
It doesn't get much more consistent than drilling a hole, bolting two things together, and leaving it alone. Since you trim the Anti-Chip Strips and ZCB to fit your saw and blade combo once it's set up, it's best (and fastest) to just leave everything set up for the next time you'll use the system.
Yes - Leave it mounted! You can still use your saw off of the track free-handed, simply remove the ZCB or DCN and the adapter plate has plenty of surface area for lopping off a 2x4 or whatever your needs are without using the track.
You'll also find it to be more stable since the standard base plate is 7-5/8" x 13", which is larger than the base of most saws. Same concept as the "Big Foot" variations on the worm drive saws. Larger base, more stable cutting table.
Diablo 40 tooth, CMT orange blade 40 tooth
40 teeth give a nice middle ground - Fine enough to have nice plywood cuts, but not so fine that a wet 2x4 gums up the gullets and causes burning. We use those blades for virtually every cut we make, other than on metals or stone.
Brands honestly depend on personal preference. We've found virtually any saw you purchase in the $120 - $150 category from a known brand, preferably with an electric brake and a 15 amp motor, will be an amazing saw for your normal DIY / Homeowner / Moderately heavy types of use.
The $80-$115 range saws are generally for very light, sporadic use here and there but lemons are more common and generally the mounting between the motor/housing of the saw to the metal shoe is a little weak and will flex more noticeably.
If you're looking for a "lifetime" type of saw, it's usually better to spend the extra $50-$60 and get an 8-1/4" saw, simply for the extra 1/2 inch depth of cut you'll gain. Motors will be the same 15 amp, but the housings and metal shoes are generally stouter and the blades are still easy to find.
All else being the same, pick your favorite color and go with it.
Track + Adapter Plate removes 3/4 inch depth of cut, so it honestly depends on the specific model of saw you've got.
6-1/2 inch saws are generally good to 1 inch material, the majority of 7-1/4 inch saws are good to 1-1/2 inch DOC, though some will still leave splinters on a 2x4 due to model variations, and your 8-1/4 inch saws are good to 2 inch material.
Doesn't matter - Pick the style and blade orientation you like. The only thing that changes is which end of the adapter plate becomes the "front", and the direction you make your cuts (right to left, or left to right)
Yes, with a 10-1/4 saw you can handle 3 inch materials. We offer a drop-down menu on the products in our Complete Universal Pro Series Track Saw Kits category that allows you to substitute a 10-1/4 inch saw adapter plate into a kit for $20 extra.
If you wish to have both the standard (6-1/2 to 8-1/4 inch) adapter plate as well as a larger 10-1/4 inch plate, or if you'd like an extra standard plate, they can be found here with the same drop-down style menu to select the size: Circular Saw Adapter Plates
You can take one of the 10-1/4 inch plates and modify it to work, but currently (July 2020) we don't have a cnc machine large enough to make the plates for the larger saws, and I don't particularly want to farm it out. Looking to add machine capability towards the end of 2020 or early 2021.
Your car or truck is nothing but some chunks of steel and bits of rubber and plastic.
The raw material costs aren't what you're buying - You're buying the expertise of one of the best wide-body aluminum extrusion companies in the US, one of the few plastic extrusion companies left that will willingly do dual-durometer plastic extrusions, and our support, knowledge, and backing on every one of the products that we design and sell.
These tools are literally designed and meant to last you a lifetime of use. If price is the only objection, use a 2x4 or a piece of angle-iron as an edge guide.
We also offer a custom DIY kit that consists of a 5lb chunk of aluminum bar stock, two small sandwich bags of plastic pellets, and a blank saw adapter plate for a very reasonable price.
Router Gantry System Questions
The manual feed is basically "it goes where you push it" and you are in control of the router placement.
- This is the more ‘traditional’ router sled style of control where you’re basically emulating a rowing machine going back and forth across the width of the project to plane it down.
The threaded cross feed units have a threaded rod that you can pin the router to in order to control the placement across the width of the unit.
- This allows you to have consistent width passes parallel to the grain or long axis of the mill. This gives a much better surface finish (which means less sanding), plus none of us have 4ft long arms to reach across the entire width in one go.
- It also opens up the ability to handle inlays, edge jointing, equally spaced fluting, and other straight line routing operations since you can control the router's position with a simple hand crank.
- Effectively turns the unit into a router table flipped upside down.
It honestly depends on volume. We split it into two categories:
For 3 tables, slabs, or projects per month or less:
- Woodline USA part numbers 1394-1 and 1394-2
- -1 for roughing work, -2 for finishing work, both run around $40 per bit and are solid carbide two wing bits with a ½ inch shank.
As a perk those are made in Tennessee.
If you're planning on more than 3 slabs per month, it’s totally worth it to get the bits with the replaceable carbide inserts
- Amana RC2251 or similar bits work great, though the initial purchase is up over $300 once that is taken care of the replacement inserts are ~$10/ea and have four cutting surfaces to rotate through
Generally, we stay with 2-1/2 inch diameter bits or less, though most of the 3+ HP routers can swing a 3-1/2 bit with proper precautions and experience.
Start smaller and get comfortable with the RGS before jumping into that size bit.
If you’re doing smaller projects in the cutting board to coffee table sized arena, you can stick with the 2-1/2 HP routers
- In particular we’ve had solid luck with the Bosch 1617-EVS (fixed base) and it’s probably the industry leader in the 2 HP category.
For larger projects you’ll need a larger router, but not for the reason you’re likely thinking.
- Larger 3+ HP routers are designed for longer duty cycles and have fans that move significantly more air through the motor, so longer run times do not build up the same amount of heat. Heat is what will kill the smaller router motors faster than anything.
- Yes, you can also swing larger bits with a larger router which means you’ll spend less time overall planing down your projects, but longevity is really the biggest reason to jump into the larger routers.
- The Milwaukee 5625-20 is our go-to for the 3HP range, as it has one of the nicer depth adjustments on the market for that size router. Bora, Triton, DeWalt, Makita, and JessEm also make fantastic router motors in the same HP range.
Plunge style routers are nice for projects where you need to make a cut, lift the router to reposition, and then return to the same depth of cut without counting turns or anything of that nature.
- Equally spaced flutes, box border inlays, tenons at opposite ends of the projects, etc.
A fixed base router with a nice depth adjustment is about as simple as it gets, so if you’re just looking to plane out and process slabs or table glue-ups it’s hard to beat.
- Slip-It sliding compound (silicone free version) is what we’ve been utilizing most recently with excellent results. It’s effectively a synthetic paste wax that doesn’t seem to attract dust and lasts a fair amount of time.
- Apply to both the linear slides and the aluminum rails themselves with a rag and wipe off any significant excess with
- Alternatives are normal paste wax like Johnson’s or Minwax
Spray-on dry film lubricants like white lithium, molybdenum disulfide, graphite, or other lubricants like bearing grease really aren’t what you should use. You can, it isn’t going to hurt anything material-wise, but it won’t be effective.
- We prefer not to do custom sizes, mostly because there’s no real need to. We bring the extrusions in already cut-to-length in 55-inch sections. We then cut and match 27-1/2-inch sections for shorter extensions.
- If a custom size extension is required, we can cut them to the desired length of 55 inches or less, but the pricing will remain the same as we’ll just end up with a weird length scrap off-cut. Contact us via email with the sizing requests.
- Standard extensions legitimately add either 55 or 27-1/2 inches of capacity, as the ‘dead space’ is already accounted for within the base kit sizes.
- If the bottom long axis rails are on the same surface as the material being cut, the RGS unit is rated for 2-1/4 material (9/4 boards)
- You can increase this capacity by raising the bottom long axis rails relative to the
support surface. For instance, making the banding boards from 2x6 material rather than 2x4 material will raise that capacity by 1-1/2 inches, giving you a 3-1/2 to 3-3/4 inch thickness capacity.
- Alternatively, the table can be designed with a lift system that the long axis rails are
affixed to such that the rails can be lifted upwards and pinned in various positions.
- If need be you can also construct pylons for the RGS to rest upon in the case of needing to plane out projects that are already installed or in place such as a bar top. Simply create pylons down to the flooring and build the RGS unit above or around the item being planed. This could include large stumps or burls.
All units are named for the closest nominal effective working area that the unit creates.
- A 48x48 unit can legitimately plane down a 48x48 inch slab
- A 48x96 unit can legitimately plane down a 48x96 inch slab, with the length capacity being undersold since it can handle 102 inches of material.
- A 22x96 and a 48x72 unit are identical in component make-up, the only thing that changes are how the rails are arranged.
All rails are the same design; therefore, you can expand both the length of the units as well as the width of the units
- 72 inches wide is the widest capacity unit we will sell. This is made by joining a 55-inch rail to a 27-1/2-inch rail for a total rail length of 82-1/2 inches, which is honestly a massive span. See notes below regarding deflection.
For a 55-inch span that creates the 48-inch capacity units the expected deflection is around 0.008” – 0.010” or 8-10 thousandths of an inch in the center of the span. For comparison 1/64 of an inch is 0.0157 inches, or 15.7 thousandths.
There will be more deflection in the 82-1/2-inch span that creates the 72-inch capacity units than the normal 55-inch span. It will be a heavy 1/32 of an inch of deflection centered around the joint of the two extrusions, so 0.040” – 0.050” or 40-50 thousandths.
- This boils down to having realistic expectations. If you’re expecting 5 thou worth of deflection on a span either length you need to spend the money on a full scale CNC router and not a ~$1000 router sled.
- Even with C-channel stabilization a slab will cup, curl, bow, or move more than 1/32 of an inch as the seasons change.
- The entire bridge assembly should only take 12-15 pounds of force to move while
making a cut, measured with a force gauge while cutting white oak with a 2-1/2 inch
diameter bit taking 1/8 inch deep cut 1-1/2 inches wide.
- The units should have some resistance to motion, but it should not be tiring to handle a small project or unduly hard to move. The motion should also be smooth along the
entire length of the unit.
Pull the long linear slides (long runners) off the bridge assembly so you're free to run
each one individually down the four long axis rails
When placing each long runner directly down onto the long axis rails. It should sit easily
onto the 45-degree beveled edges and should not "click" or "snap" into place on the
- If it clicks or snaps into place and requires downward force to do so, the ends of the long runner have closed up after machining due to relieved material stress
- Flip the runner over and find the small 1/16 inch shoulder that is located above
the 45 degree bevels. When it's flipped over it's the little lip that's closest to the ceiling, not down within the runner itself.
- Take a small file or 80-120 grit sandpaper and sand from the extreme end of the runner inwards around 1 inch on that shoulder. Doesn't have to be much at all, the thickness of a couple sheets of copy paper will make a world of difference.
If you've already done the above to open the LR shoulder up and you're still feeling significant hesitations that come and go as you move the long runner(s) down the rails
- Especially if it seems to only be on one rail more than the others, check the rail itself for twist or bow against a known straight edge
- We machine the long runners to have around 10 thousandths clearance on the
sides of the extrusions, so if an extrusion is twisted or bowed it'll eat that tolerance along the 13-3/4-inch length of the long runner and then cause excess drag
If you can pin it down to a rail, we'll replace it. We visually inspect and rock each rail
prior to packaging, but only put about 1 in 20 on a granite surface plate so it's entirely possible for us to miss oddities.
Leave one long axis rail fixed to the support table at both ends.
Go to one end of the opposite long axis rail and loosen the mounting hardware to the
table by 1/4 turn, allowing the rail to float slightly at the one end.
Slide the bridge assembly back and forth. If it's significantly easier at the floating end
there's something pulling the rails out of alignment when tightening them down
- It's entirely fine to leave the one rail floating. With the first rail fixed at both ends, it sets and controls the straight-line motion. If the rails check out level with a 4ft level you'll be good to go.
Loosen the connectors on one rail and leave a small daylight gap between the
extrusions, 1/64 is perfectly fine.
- This will account for any issues with the cross-cut on the aluminum rail not being exactly 90 degrees and causing a kick at the junction. If the faces are touching it will override the dovetail connectors. By leaving the gap you're allowing the connectors to properly do their job.
Ensure the joint is supported so there's no excessive deflection
- You can also place small blocks of scrap inside and outside the rails to prevent lateral deflection if that's a noticeable issue (rarely is)