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Track Tubes:  Just An Idea?

Track Tubes: Just an Idea?

If you want the short answer to What are Track Tubes, then this is not the place to be.  Here I will give you the “long answer,” from my initial idea to where we are today … so lets get started.    I have been a hobbyist woodworker for over 40 years and serious DIYer for 35.  After retiring from a law enforcement career in California, my wife and I moved from Northern California to Southern Utah.  This meant leaving my large, dedicated workshop behind, as well as my Powermatic tablesaw and other stationary machinery.    After the move, we kept busy traveling the country in our RV for a few years, but after visiting all 50 states we were kind of “all RV’d out.”  It was time to stick around home for a while and return to woodworking and other projects on “the list.”   I began to set up my new workshop in a small section of our new home’s 3-car garage.   There was no room for me to think about having a full sized table saw, so I looked for alternative solutions.  I ended up buying into the green coolaid and purchasing the Festool Track Saw.  This system works great for most of my previous table saw tasks … but this article isn’t about Track Saws … so I’ll get back on subject.  Like most who work out of their garage or small shop, there never seems to be enough bench space.  To solve this problem, I frequently use sawhorses to set up additional work stations for various tasks.  One of the more common tasks was cutting down full sheets of plywood and MDF with my new Track Saw.  In my younger years I, like many others, would hunt around for scraps of wood to build an elevated cutting surface on the garage floor.  More recently, I would use a sheet of rigid insulation as a sacrificial surface under the panel, but age, hip and shoulder surgeries motivated me to find a better solution.   I was tired of searching for scraps of wood or crawling around on the garage floor like a bug every time I  had to break down my sheet goods.   Because of the frequency I used my sawhorses, I wanted a permanent solution for quickly and easily setting up a work station using them as the supporting base. I was tired of dealing with 2×4’s  that always seemed to twist and warp between projects, causing me to make another run to the big orange or blue box stores to pick up a couple straight studs.  A huge waste of time for me!  I had recently purchased a Wells Cargo trailer I was beginning to build out as a tool trailer for my frequent trips back to CA and came up with an idea.  I would use 4 or 5  lengths of rectangular aluminum tubes to use as the supports for a loft area in the trailer, which could also be used to replace 2×4’s as the supporting structures between my sawhorses when needed.  This solution would be permanent, and “kill two birds with one stone,”  as the tubes would double as my loft support.  I purchased a couple 20′ lengths of 1.5″ x 3″ aluminum tube and cut them to length … worked perfectly.  They fit snugly in the notches on my Dewalt sawhorses and created an extremely stable work station.   Actually, more stable and with a larger work area than a couple of the so-called portable work tables I had purchased.  As I used the tubes frequently over the next few months, I realized how convenient it was to always have them available … no more 2×4’s!  I began modifying the tubes, first by drilling holes and machining a track in the top so I could use the same clamps and jigs I used on my stationary benches.  I then added permanent cross members that stored within the cavity of the tubes.   How convenient that was!  I now had a portable panel cutting table and track saw station … no more time wasted searching for scraps of wood to cut my panels.  But it didn’t stop there.  As I continued to use and modify the design of the tubes I realized how they were an awesome multi-function work station.  I found myself using the tubes instead of my permanent benches for more and more tasks in and outside the shop.  They were quick to set up and take down, and on nice days (which are plentiful in Southern Utah) I could set them up outside, especially if I was sawing or sanding.  It really helped keep the shop clean, which means less time cleaning and more time building.  As time went on it dawned on me that my tubes might be a marketable product.  I thought that if they were so useful to me, they would certainly be useful to many other woodworkers and DIYers.  I continued to tweak the design and finally filed a Provisional Patent Application to protect my “intellectual property.”  I then hired an engineer to help me design and draw the specialized extrusion and had 3D models  drawn up to accurately represent my vision of what “Track Tubes” would be.  Finally, I built some prototypes and started sending bids out to aluminum extrusions companies to see what the specially designed extrusion would cost to manufacture.  In July 2017 I attended the AWFS Fair in Las Vegas and started showing my design to a few select company representatives and industry professionals for feedback.  Due to the overwhelming positive comments I received I decided to move forward with a small production run of the aluminum extrusion.  Now I wait.  The extrusions will be completed in the Fall and final prototypes will be built and distributed for field testing and reviews.  There will be a limited quantity available for purchase for those who want to participate in the Track Tubes Project custom build.  Additionally, several FREE pairs of the extrusions will be given away to those who register through this website.   Its a busy, but exciting time for the Track Tube Project.  We’re not sure where the journey will end, but if you’d like to be a part of it, please register or get in touch with us, we’d love to hear from you.  And remember … Support Your Wood with Track Tubes.

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