workbench for tracksaw - which direction?

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

akirk

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2020
Messages
897
Reaction score
1,100
Location
Bristol
I currently use a very stable oak dining table as an assembly bench, occasionally clamping work to it eg to use the biscuit cutter…
It is 1500 x 90 and works well…

I would like a solution which allows:
- good clamping
- use of the track saw to do the kind of cuts you would otherwise do on a table saw (long story, but no table saw coming here any time soon as my wife is a hand surgeon!)
- I want a fence I can micro adjust for as much accuracy as possible, and the ability to alter angles as well…

Peter Millard has a good backyard build of a MFT alternative which I guess could sit on the current table and work well, but I have also been thinking that I need either track in it or the microjig dovetail structure… for full flexibility…

any thoughts on what you would build / buy etc… esp as I don’t want to spend a lot, so for example I would happily buy a cnc mft top as per the video for about £50 I dont want to be buying jigs to drill my own holes for £200

my thinking so far is:
- top either cnc mft or if possible an equivalent which also has the microjig system (can that be bought)
- some structure for the sides
- track in the sides
- hinge for the tracksaw track
- some form of fence

would love thoughts etc…
 
I bought a off the shelf MFT top which was about £54 delivered.

A set of six dogs for £24 four low and two high - so could could cut with no fence just use a good tape.

A Benchdogs fence and the track dogs with collars. The cuts I have made have been good and the same length. The track dogs keep the track nice and square but nowhere near as quick as a hinge.

Dave Stanton does some clip things to clip a rail to dogs that is faster but I have not tried them as I bought the bench dogs track dogs before I saw those. But the Benchdogs Dog collars are good for holding up the rail when there is no stock under at the ends but you could use scrap for that.

If you are going to put your MFT on top of the dinning table what height will it be at. You will need space below the slab maybe 50 to 60 for clamps to fit if using rail clamps through the dog holes. The Benchdogs track dogs that I have are 95 high so max 77mm below the MFT.

I am currently building a bench frame for my shed. My shed is very small and can not get full sheets inside. I am mounting the MFT on a plywood collar which will bolt to the bench frame. Unbolt to take outside to cut up big stuff. Have made provision for T track to go around the outside of the MFT top on the ply in the future. There are a few different sizes so you will have to make allowance if you are putting your top in a frame.

I am just starting out with this and am waiting to find what big mistake I have made. No problems so far apart from being very very slow at joinery for the bench frame.
 
Torsion box with cnc'd mft top? For a rail you could clamp a rail to the mft dead parallel to an edge, then drill through using a 20mm bit or whatever, so the holes are perfect with the top. Then glue 20mm dowels into the rail so the rail can be removable.
The hinge setup can be fitted to the rail.
You can get t slot cutters to route your own slots or set in aluminium channels.
The above is basically a plan i aim to do one day 😒 if i ever get time
 
I would have thought @petermillard solution would be ideal? He recently made his own mft top using a relatively cheap mft top (CNC Designs are excellent) shows how to router microjig tracks, fit metal tracks to the front and rear and made his own track hinge. He uses a Benchdogs fence which I also have.




Have a look through his library as he demonstrates other solutions and reviews oem track hinges
 
Just to clarify, the back yard MFT build was part of a Basic Builds series, using a minimal toolkit, and very much pitched at novices making their first bench with nothing but a tracksaw and a drill. The workshop MFT was my take on a non-mobile MFT-alike, designed specifically for the space I have.

As a long-term MFT user, I’m not overly enthusiastic about the Microjig / Matchfit system; the MFT top with holes and dovetail slots sagged noticeably - it’s braced now and seems to be holding up OK - but I’m not convinced of the benefits of the dovetail slots over, say equivalent t-slots.

HTH P
 
Just to clarify, the back yard MFT build was part of a Basic Builds series, using a minimal toolkit, and very much pitched at novices making their first bench with nothing but a tracksaw and a drill. The workshop MFT was my take on a non-mobile MFT-alike, designed specifically for the space I have.

As a long-term MFT user, I’m not overly enthusiastic about the Microjig / Matchfit system; the MFT top with holes and dovetail slots sagged noticeably - it’s braced now and seems to be holding up OK - but I’m not convinced of the benefits of the dovetail slots over, say equivalent t-slots.

HTH P

If it is sagging because of the microjig slots and you have to prop it then you may reduce your dog hole clamping options I assume. or at least make it more difficult.

Plus a curved surface would make things a bit difficult.
 
If it is sagging because of the microjig slots and you have to prop it then you may reduce your dog hole clamping options I assume. or at least make it more difficult.

Plus a curved surface would make things a bit difficult.
It was flat as a strap before I cut the slots, but sagged afterwards. The bracing restricts the way that clamps can turn in the dog holes, but otherwise has no effect on clamping.
 
It was flat as a strap before I cut the slots, but sagged afterwards. The bracing restricts the way that clamps can turn in the dog holes, but otherwise has no effect on clamping.
It sounds like microjig, with possibly a thicker top, or mft but not both, unless you can put up with the limitations of bracing? There may be a better solution if you just use microjig on the front skirt and mft top.
 
or if possible an equivalent which also has the microjig system (can that be bought)
Not seen one with the matchfit slots but they are easy enough to route in, I use a 1/2 14°cutter from Infinity 18-628 or a 1/4 14° cutter from Wealdons T1017 depending what router I am using. It can be better to run a straight slot first to give the dovetail cutter an easier job.

As for sagging I use 18mm moisture MDF and run strips underneath that act as long feet and with the microjig clamps, I have no need for any clamps in the holes so no problems with the long feet. Holes for alignment and horizontal support with microjig for the clamping and for me the MFT would be useless without microjig clamps and slots, just adds so much versatility with making your own jigs and supports like fences.

Parts like this are really helpful, Micro Jig MATCHFIT Dovetail Hardware Variety Pack

Worth watching
 
Last edited:
It sounds like microjig, with possibly a thicker top, or mft but not both, unless you can put up with the limitations of bracing? There may be a better solution if you just use microjig on the front skirt and mft top.
If you go for a thicker top you may not be able to rotate rail clamps down into the dog holes. If you were using rail clamps as long as the struts were every other dog hole row and column you could get it in the hole and use it as long as it was not facing towards the strut when adjacent. If you used struts that were not continously supporting the MFT you may be ok not sure. Have little pillars at the diagonal points between the dog holes then you could point rail clamps in almost any direction except straight at the pillar from the adjacent dog hole.
 
some superbly helpful answers - thank you all, and Peter for your views on combining both microjig and mft…

I will watch your other video on the workshop mft, key for me is ability to easily and accurately and repeatedly get the kind of cuts you might otherwise get from a table saw, so I think that starting simple will be good…

cnc mft top
frame including t-track
hinge for table saw track
fence
should be sufficient…
 
If you go for a thicker top you may not be able to rotate rail clamps down into the dog holes. If you were using rail clamps as long as the struts were every other dog hole row and column you could get it in the hole and use it as long as it was not facing towards the strut when adjacent. If you used struts that were not continously supporting the MFT you may be ok not sure. Have little pillars at the diagonal points between the dog holes then you could point rail clamps in almost any direction except straight at the pillar from the adjacent dog hole.
I think you may have misunderstood, or I haven't explained it very well - I was proposing a thicker microjig top or leave as an mft top. If its Peter's attempt to combine the two that makes if weaker and you don't want the hassle of bracing then dowel the front skirt for microjig clamps and keep the top standard mft.
 
I would have thought @petermillard solution would be ideal? He recently made his own mft top using a relatively cheap mft top (CNC Designs are excellent) shows how to router microjig tracks, fit metal tracks to the front and rear and made his own track hinge. He uses a Benchdogs fence which I also have.




Have a look through his library as he demonstrates other solutions and reviews oem track hinges

I hadnt seen the pocket money hinge vid before, its a great solution , thank you 👍
 
I currently use a very stable oak dining table as an assembly bench, occasionally clamping work to it eg to use the biscuit cutter…
It is 1500 x 90 and works well…

I would like a solution which allows:
- good clamping
- use of the track saw to do the kind of cuts you would otherwise do on a table saw (long story, but no table saw coming here any time soon as my wife is a hand surgeon!)
- I want a fence I can micro adjust for as much accuracy as possible, and the ability to alter angles as well…

Peter Millard has a good backyard build of a MFT alternative which I guess could sit on the current table and work well, but I have also been thinking that I need either track in it or the microjig dovetail structure… for full flexibility…

any thoughts on what you would build / buy etc… esp as I don’t want to spend a lot, so for example I would happily buy a cnc mft top as per the video for about £50 I dont want to be buying jigs to drill my own holes for £200

my thinking so far is:
- top either cnc mft or if possible an equivalent which also has the microjig system (can that be bought)
- some structure for the sides
- track in the sides
- hinge for the tracksaw track
- some form of fence

would love thoughts etc…
Apart from 'micro adjust' I've built two now. First non stable, just to support commercial ply MFT top.
Second more solid. Legs, 'apron' and screwed down top.
Lessons learned:
* Make it shorter (width ways) than your working fence (I wanted the 800, pushed into using a 1400).
* Leave a lip on the edge nearest you (for clamping).
* Make working height same as whatever is adjacent to the table (long pieces).
* have a knock up to support an 8' piece to one side, for whatever frequency you cut down big stock.

HTH
 
Back
Top