Matchfit clamping system

I recently discovered the Micro-jig Match-fit clamping system.

I liked the concept but not the price of the components (clamps and hardware).

I decided to make the 360 sled to test out the system

I bought the dovetail bit as I figured it would be a good investment over the long haul… and the sled kit:

I also decided to try and build cheaper clamps from 1/2 x 1/8 bar stock welded to a Lowes $5 F clamp. I also did a larger one with a clamp from HF.

The sled build:
Following the instructions that came with the sled kit, it was straightforward to build. The miter bar was a dream to install and adjust resulting in a perfect fit. If every you need a miter bar its worth it to just get this guy:

It adjusts in the track before you install it on the sled… way easy.

Shop made clamps:
I was pretty happy with the shop made clamps. That is aside from my lousy welding skills.

I ground the angle on the first one too steep. There is not much grinding needed for 14 deg chamfer. I set up the angle on the grinders rest and that made the process much faster.

I fashioned a jig from a 10lb magnet placed under the blade which held the clamp upright and aligned for welding. This made it easier to keep the clamp straight for welding.

I was concerned that the 1/8" blade would not be strong enough and bend when clamped. Turns out the blade is supported from bending by its full length in the track and most of the pressure ends up under the clamps screw. The clamps held fine and did not bend … yet.

I would say that each clamp took about 1/2hr to fabricate. So that’s $5-6 vs +$20 each + fab time.

Next steps:
Dovetail hardware
I want to find a way to make the dovetail inserts also. They are +2.50 each, that’s rediculous.
I think these approaches would work:

  • 3D print with threaded inserts
  • 1/4 acrylic or wood, cut then tapered on a belt sander with thread or threaded inserts
  • 3D printed, shop-made or purchased knobs.

Clamping table:

  • Going to add a large matrix version of the sled to my assy table.
  • Going to try to make add-on clamping board with these dovetail groves for my CNC