Another aspect of learning how to use your CNC router involves knowing how to properly secure material down to the bed of the machine. Rigidly securing material to the machine bed is crucial when setting up to cut. Some clamping methods are rigid but are more intrusive, while others keep a low profile but aren’t quite as strong. Play around with these methods to see which ones you can use individually or in combination for your ideal setup.
T-track allows you to insert a variety of clamps, such as toe clamps, making it quick to secure items to your bed. Find aluminum t-track and compatible clamps online and at your local woodworking store.
Screw-in threaded inserts especially ones that are designed for wood is a quick and easy way to add points on your wasteboard for clamping, Common size inserts like for 1/4-20 bolts are a good option if you want to make your own table with inserts and clamps.
One of the fastest and easiest options for securing your material and can be found in most hardware and department stores. Carpet tape has surprisingly sticky adhesive on both sides, and works best when applied to flat pieces of material with a large surface area. Using carpet tape usually eliminates the need for workholding tabs since the final part is kept held down by the tape.
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Hot glue is a great workholding option for both flat and irregularly shaped materials. When used properly, it offers a higher degree of strength than carpet tape while eliminating the need for workholding tabs. Parts can be removed from the bed with a paint scraper or peeled off by hand. Using hot glue can sometimes be tricky since an even layer needs to be applied to keep the workpiece level. With some practice however, hot glue offers a quick, cheap, and effective workholding option.
Vises come in all shapes and sizes, for hundreds of applications. Because of it’s parallel facing jaws, a vice is perfect for holding square or rectangular items, but can be used to hold just about anything. Vises offer extremely high clamping forces, which are needed when milling tough materials. A low profile, 4-inch, cast iron drill press vise like the one shown below works well for firmly holding materials.