Well, it’s not a total reboot, but after months of taking a break from The Track Tubes Project because of life (health, fires, travel), I’m finally back home in Southern Utah and working on the project. Due to the interest and number of inquiries I continue to get for the tubes, I’ve just ordered my second batch, which should arrive in late November. Based on the feedback I’ve received, I’ve been in the shop (aka: garage) testing different methods and ideas for using the tubes. At the moment, I’m focusing on four main things, which I really find handy and want to share with you. I’m still working on the final designs, and will be creating videos on each of these uses, but this will give you a sneak preview of what I’ve been working on lately.
Sliding Table System: I’m a little biased, but this system is awesome, especially when an MFT style top is being used with the tubes as a track saw station. One of the main advantages in the design of the Track Tube profile is the incorporated T-Track. This track was sized to fit the most common brands of track clamps (Festool, Bessey, Micro-Jig), as well as 1/4″-20 hex-head bolts for all your jigs. With the help of Steve @QwasProducts, I designed a low-profile rail dog that holds an MFT style top in place. This special dog slides in the T-Track and allows an MFT style top to be placed over the dogs and locked into place. Because of their low-profile, the top of the dog remains just below the surface of the MFT top, so not to interfere with your material placed on the top. With longer tubes, the top can easily be slid left or right. This is especially useful when using your tubes as a cutting station and needing material support left or right of your cut. For example: if you need more support on the right side of the cut, simply slide the table to the left side of the tubes and place a support wing on the right. Just the opposite for a cut where you need more material support on the left side of the cut .. really fast, simple and effective.
Telescoping Extensions: When the original Track Tube profile was designed, having a hollow cavity was important so a telescoping extension could be used. It was also considered that a hollow cavity would be an easy way to use adapt an insert to connect tubes for a longer lengths. Well, I finally got around to milling some extensions out of maple and … wow. This is probably one of the best DIY “accessories” that could be used with the tubes. Suddenly, I could add extensions and “wings” to my 45″ tubes and easily handle 8 ft. lengths of material. The design of the extensions would also create an easy way to connect T-Track Tubes for longer lengths and break back down in seconds. As the saying goes .. “killed two birds with one stone” (no .. I’ve actually never done this). I quickly realized the advantage of using these extensions, so I’m currently having an aluminum profile designed for this use. Once the extrusion die is ready, I’ll order a limited quantity and have them available for purchase. They should be available early next year, so check back for more on this.
Router Sled: I’ve had several suggestions about using the Track Tubes for router sled rails. In fact, I know of a couple guys that purchased the tubes with this in mind. I always knew the tubes would be great for this purpose, but never really thought of a design because there were so many other “ideas” I wanted to pursue first. Once I started working on the sliding table function I naturally thought this could easily be adapted to the router sled design. The most important part of a router sled is having a straight and flat pair of rails under your router. The aluminum Track Tubes make the perfect rail. I’m just starting to work on this project, but already realize how quick and easy the Track Tubes can be clamped to a bench to create a flat and straight rail system for a sled. I have a sled design sketched up and will knock out the first one soon, so check back to see what I came up with.
3d Squares: They aren’t an idea I thought up, but a product I recently saw on a woodworking forum I follow and instantly knew what a great compliment to the Track Tubes they would be. I was right … they work great for clamping/assembling cases and other projects, but are absolutely incredible when attached to the Track Tubes. The squares already come with a couple holes punched on each side of them, I simply reamed the hole out to fit a 1/4″ hex bolt and slid them in the track of the tubes and can be locked in place with a knurled knob. They really are a third hand in the shop. Robert Jevons (jevonstoolco.com) has been manufacturing these for quite some time and can be purchased directly through his website or one of the other retailers mentioned .. check it out.
Well, those are the main focus of my Track Tubes Project right now. I have a number of other ideas and accessories on “the list,” but need to get these projects dialed in before moving on to other things. I plan creating a video for each project in the future, so check back, and thanks for your interest in The Track Tubes Project.