It's easier just to make a couple of covers for your table. Most of us keep
out vice in the same place all the time, so ya just contour the ends ta
match it's profile.
Several of my friends us masonite, one has aluminum that he put a rubber top
on to be nice to tooling.
Plastic works well too. I've been thinking of making some new ones out of
the masonite that's got a white plastic coating on it.. Then I could
scribble 'white borad' notes right on the table.. LOL...
FWIW my lathe has T-slots on the cross slide, but has plenty of room at
either end so I made super long T-thingies to slide in it...
I got a couple of heavy plastic food serving trays (they come in lots of
sizes) and contoured the ends to fit around the vise as you suggest. On
the bottom I put a wooden key that engages the center T-slot so they
don't fall off. They allow you to put tools and parts on the machine
without knicking up the tables, and keep chips out of the T-slots.
They're easily cleaned with a shop vac, or just by dumping into a trash
container. I've been using the same pair for over ten years.
Most of these ideas don't work well if you use a lot of coolant,
especially 'flood' coolant. Most mill tables use the T-slots as part of
the coolant drain system. Most of my work is done dry, or with brush or
spray botttle applied coolant, so it's not a problem.
Dave, I take it your refering to Bridgeport type mills. In my opinion a
better stratagey is to move the vise off center on the table in the X
axis. Alternate sides every so often to spread the wear over a longer
length so when you need to do some longer work you don't develop a
rotator cuff problem.
Extra points for moving ram in and out occasionaly to spread the wear
over the Y axis.
No those are things to cove the ways in the back of the tabel (whick I also
have even though the BP has it's cool sliding covers)
Makes it really easy to clean up after working, ya don't have to dig stuff
outta the dovetails :-)
Oops, I missed that the 1st 2 were way covers. I was mostly looking at the
3rd one down on the right. It's called Table Guard & Tote and is made to
cover the table and fits into the T-slots. Doesn't sound like it's the same
as what you're looking for but seems to serve the same purpose.
"I'm not grown up enough to be so old!"
I saw those and might get some. The stuff I'm talking about is like a soft
plastic rectangular tubing. I've used masonite before but I think it might
dissolve in coolant. Maybe I could press some lengths of garden hose in the
slots or some flat bars of PVC or something cheap.
Check with some of the extrusion manufacturers, i.e. Bosch, 80/20,
FlexLink, etc. They offer plastic covers for the T-Slots in the
extrusions, maybe you can find one that will work on the mill slots.
These will be in a double-leg T or square U, with little lips on the ends
of the legs to hook into the T
You can't 'idiot proof' anything....every time you try, they just make
A cheap alternative are the T type aluminum pieces that are used in drop
ceilings. They can be cut easily and can be found in most dumpsters or
Geesh, I'm startin to sound like Gunner now. But, hey if its free its for
Keep in mind that you don't just have to "close up" the slots. You
can cover the "entire top" of the table and just have one or two
"guides" mounted to the bottom of the "table top" to fit into the
T-nut slots (it doesn't even have to be a tight fit). This way,
the entire top (except for the vise or other holding fixtures) is
covered and can easily be brushed into a dustpan or whatever.
I don't think I would want to fight with individual little "slot
covers" when an entire top would protect the whole table top from
falling bits, wrenches, etc.
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