Flexible machine clamping system

By | 02/05/2015

Workbench with

While waiting for Bitraf‘s new Shopbot to make its way across the Atlantic ocean, I busied myself upgrading the Bitraf workshop.

We’d managed to get all the parts for the new workbenches milled out before Jens Dyvik moved his Shopbot to Fellesverkstedet, but we still needed a system for holding our small machines safely in place.

I briefly thought of mounting them directly to the workbench surface, but didn’t want to commit to having a particular machine locked to one spot. I was pretty sure we’d get additional suitable machines in the future, and some machines you really want to be able to move around to adjust to the task at hand.

So, I wanted a more flexible solution that would allow both moving and swapping of machines relatively easy. Comprehensive googling didn’t really turn up any solutions I liked, so I had to come up with something myself.

You’ll probably get a decent idea of how it works from looking at the pictures, but I’ll describe it, too, for clarity.

At the back of the workbench, I’ve mounted several rails, with a 45 degree chamfer cut at the front. The face of the chamfer faces down.

At the front of the workbench, I’ve mounted similar rails with the chamfer facing backwards and down. These are hinged, as can be seen in the picture below.

Closeup of clamp in closed position

Closeup of one of the clamps in its closed position

All machines are mounted securely on a square plate with a 45 degree chamfer on all edges. The chamfer is the reverse of the rail chamfers. So, with the addition of a bit of rubber along the rail, the plates and their machines are held securely in place.

When we want to move or swap one of the machines, we undo the wingnuts for the appropriate rail and flip it back, like so:

Closeup of open clamp

Closeup of one of the clamps in its open position

Open clamp

One of the clamps in its open position

Since the plate is square, we’re free to rotate the machines if we need to, and still mount it securely. This is a particularly great advantage with the sander in the picture below, since it allows us to set up optimum angles and space for our sanding.

Sander mounted on base plate

Having the sander mounted on a square base plate is particularly useful, since we often need to rotate the machine to accommodate different working angles

Drill press

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with this system. It was made with mostly scrap materials, and really keeps the machines well in place. The disadvantage, of course, is that it’s hard to use the workbench for other purposes with the rails mounted. Then again, we have other workbenches for other purposes, so that’s not too big a sacrifice.

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