After finally making my first cuts with the 7 x 12 router (which is actually a bit larger than advertised!), it was evident that the included clamps just weren’t going to cut it. After some inspiration from the Zen Toolworks forum, I decided to buy some hold down clamps from Rockler, as well as a compatible “t-track”.. They’re also available on Amazon – Hold Down Clamp – and – 2 Ft. T-Track – if you prefer to buy that way. Although I had some vague plan of how to use them, one I received the pieces, it was obvious how everything would best fit together. You’ll also need some flat head screws.
Originally, I had intended to cut the 2 foot piece of t-track down to fit on the bed at ninety degrees to where they sit in the picture above. After doing some testing, it seems the router is capable of using nearly the entire 8 inch “Y” surface of the bed. There is some dead space on the “X” axis of the bed (which is around 15 inches), so leaving some room to clamp on the sides as shown wouldn’t hurt my available area nearly as much as it would in the configuration I’d imagined.
The 2 foot t-track was cut down to two nine inch pieces and mounted on either side. Although oversize, I thought this might come in handy for clamping at some point. When mounting these tracks, I left 1 1/4 inches of space between the edge of the t-track and the side of the bed to allow the clamps to be fastened.
I then centered the router over the first hole and plunged into the table where the first hole needed to be. Lining everything up as closely as possible, I marked where the second hole should be. The router was then traversed in only the Y direction to this mark and another pilot hole was plunged into the PVC bed. The t-track was then installed with some wood screws.
One thing to note is that the t-track wasn’t necessarily in line with the edge of the bed. However, since your router, or Dremel tool in this case, is traversing exactly along its Y-axis, everything will be lined up correctly with respect to your cutting tool. At least that’s what it would seem to me. Another thing to note is that you should remove the t-track before actually cutting into the PVC. I ruined a bit that way and was glad to be wearing my safety glasses.
When working with this, one will have to be careful as the clamps or the screws can cause some clearance issues when traversing. Depending on the setup, one clamp could be used to secure everything while the other is moved for clearance. The screws used to install the track may hit the back of the assembly as well on the extreme ends of the Y-axis, so one may have to either file the screws down or cut into the ZTW frame.
As seen in the first picture, this setup will allow one to route workpieces that are much longer than the 7 inches that the router was designed for. This should be good for engraving longer pieces if the software is set up correctly. There’s obviously some limit to how large a piece this machine can accommodate, so definitely use some common sense when selecting your workpiece.
Alternatively, you can always use a broken pencil to hold everything together as shown above (not recommended). This has been a fun project, but I’m looking forward to when it becomes a tool to use rather than a project to work on. I suppose I could have bought one pre-assembled, but what fun is that?