Author Topic: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)  (Read 38971 times)

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Offline Svar

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Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« on: September 14, 2012, 05:41 AM »
I needed to join two rails and checked out connectors. Wow! $32 for a pair of metal bars with holes in them. You’ve got to be kidding. Profit margin must be over 90% on that thing <end of rant>.

I stopped by the hardware store to pick up a piece of metal about 12x6 mm. They didn’t carry that, but instead (as it turned out later fortunately) had one 12.7x3.2mm. I then realized I could do better than the stock part.

I often read complaints that joined rails don’t stay aligned together. Festool warns not to over tighten the screws, in fact, boasts flat heads to prevent just that. And the connectors are about only Festool item that has bad reviews on Amazon. No wonder they can’t be secured well; steel screws dig into soft aluminum rail.

My solution is to make the connector consisting of two thinner 3.2 mm parts (see picture). The top one has threaded holes with Allen screws (M6, 6mm long). The bottom one has non through (1/3 deep) cone shaped holes that align with the screws. These holes help to fully engage the threads and prevent lateral sliding of two parts. As you tighten the screws the two pieces are pushed apart and firmly press against inside of the slot distributing pressure over large area. You can tighten them very well.

While fitting the connectors I discovered that two t-slots of the guide rail have different width by about 0.3 mm and had to file the bars a bit :-(.

I tested the setup. After joining two rails I moved, rotated, flipped, lifted by one end, and kicked them around. Checked again with a straight edge – perfect.

P.S. Festool, if you like the idea e-mail me a thank you card attached to a banknote or a green tool of your choice :-)  [poke]

55511-0
« Last Edit: September 14, 2012, 05:44 AM by Svar »

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Offline Nigel

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2012, 07:03 AM »
Yep, I like the look of that and the allen key heads.I may have to try that if you don't mind?

Offline Richard/RMW

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2012, 07:36 AM »
Brilliant!

Thanks for posting.

RMW
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Offline UncleJoe

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2012, 08:57 AM »
At first I thought why? really?  Then I read this part " The bottom one has non through (1/3 deep) cone shaped holes that align with the screws." and the light turned on and I said brilliant he has created a wedge affect to really grab the entire slot.  With this design you are distributing pressure on the bottom of the slot and the top of the slot. This should be rock solid. Extremely good concept and design.  It is simple, and it is a large improvement.

Festool should be all over this. I will be making one as soon as time allows. I guess you could easily make it longer with an additional hole or two if desired.

I owe you a beer.  [thumbs up]
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Offline PeterK

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2012, 09:06 AM »
I will definitely try this myself!! This has been a frustrating aspect of the rail design for me as I have dimpled all my rails trying to tighten them and then still am able to knock them out of alignment. Festool should purchase your idea or you need to market this!

Offline Reiska

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2012, 09:39 AM »
If you could somehow add two half attached rivets to the design to keep the halves together but still movable vertically it would make these a serious selling article.

What I mean is that the rivet would be welded to the bottom bar, go through the top one and keep them together with a conical top cap while still allowing the top bar to move vertically with the tightening of the screws.
The sky's the limit in my workshop, literally. [big grin]

Offline VesaS

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2012, 10:18 AM »
Unfortunately Festool don't pay you, this has been already in use.
Makita rail connector

it would be nice surprise if Festool send you Domino or something like that..


Vesa
Hobbyist with high demands (for tools)

Offline John2532

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2012, 11:00 AM »
Great idea Svar!  If you wanted to to semi-attach the 2 rails together as Reiska suggested,  you could drill a couple holes in one of the bars and epoxy in a couple of thin rare-earth magnets. That would hold them together for ease of assembly but still allow movement.  It looks like it works great as it is though.

John

Offline Nigel

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2012, 01:45 PM »
If you could somehow add two half attached rivets to the design to keep the halves together but still movable vertically it would make these a serious selling article.

What I mean is that the rivet would be welded to the bottom bar, go through the top one and keep them together with a conical top cap while still allowing the top bar to move vertically with the tightening of the screws.

If you store the connectors in the rail there is no need.

Offline Svar

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2012, 06:08 PM »
Oh, no! Makita beat me to that!  [doh] I won’t get rich!  [crying]
But are Makita’s handmade, and come with file marks left by a skillful craftsman?!   [big grin]

Thank you all for the comments. Holding screws could be added like so…
55523-0

Also, when not stored in the rail, set screws could be tightened lightly and they won’t get lost. Pin/screw in the middle will hold parts together.
Now I need to build a nice tiny systainer to store the connectors in.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2012, 06:43 PM by Svar »

Offline kfitzsimons

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2012, 09:25 PM »
Great idea. I'd buy a pair if you made them available. File marks and all!

Offline Stefan23

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2012, 11:03 AM »
That's brilliant... Thanks for sharing your great idea with us  [smile]
« Last Edit: September 24, 2012, 12:10 PM by Stefan23 »

Offline BrotherBrian

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2012, 11:09 PM »
Svar, If you're inclined to make another set, please let me know, I will send you a thank you card and a bank note. 

Offline fshanno

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2012, 10:57 PM »
This may be a little too far over the top but how about holes in the inside channel so that you could tighten both sets of connecters from the top?
The one thing we learn from history is that we never learn from history.

Offline SRSemenza

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2012, 11:21 PM »
This may be a little too far over the top but how about holes in the inside channel so that you could tighten both sets of connecters from the top?

I like this idea too, that would make it easier to keep them aligned  while tightening.



Seth

Offline overanalyze

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Re: Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2014, 01:52 AM »
Reviving an old thread.  Great great idea! Made a set tonite!

Offline wow

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #16 on: May 04, 2014, 02:02 AM »
Do you think these would work acceptably if made from T6061 aluminum instead of steel? I know the Festool ones are steel but I'd really like to stay away from using a dissimilar metal if aluminum would work? Also it would be easier to work with than steel.

I know it wouldn't be AS strong, but the question is "would it be strong ENOUGH"?
Trying to be one of the most helpful members on the FOG.

Offline overanalyze

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Re:
« Reply #17 on: May 04, 2014, 02:08 AM »
I thought about aluminum but felt the set screws would strip out to easy if over tightened. That and my hardware store didn't stock1/8"x1/2" aluminum. I still had to grind that size down a bit. I am going to either paint these or clear coat them. I am not worried about dissimilar materials for a piece that won't be used that much.

Offline bruegf

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #18 on: May 04, 2014, 08:59 AM »
Dissimilar metals are not issue as long as they are not in the presence of an electrolyte (e.g. water).  You won't see any galvanic corrosion as long as you keep the rails dry while joined with the steel connector.
Fred

Offline EV

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #19 on: May 04, 2014, 05:45 PM »
As far as I remember Makita Supplying this type of connector with their track saw. I personally found it fiddly keeping to parts together.
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Offline overanalyze

  • Posts: 392
Re: Re: Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #20 on: May 04, 2014, 05:58 PM »
As far as I remember Makita Supplying this type of connector with their track saw. I personally found it fiddly keeping to parts together.

That's why I attached the two pieces to each other with a small screw.

Offline JZ Bowmannz

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #21 on: September 24, 2014, 10:37 PM »
Made my version tonight following you guy's lead.

Modified to what I think a little better config:

both pieces are 18" long instead of 12";
they are true 12 mm wide stocks - so no more material removal;
one piece is 4.0 mm thick, which will receive all tapping operation to have a better thread engagement;
other piece is 2.0 mm thick, which only has (2) countersink through holes to keep two pieces together;

I did try them, connected much more solidly than my old Festool ones.

Thanks SVAR!

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« Last Edit: September 24, 2014, 10:42 PM by JZ Bowmannz »

Offline duburban

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #22 on: September 24, 2014, 11:27 PM »
sweet. i'm totally doing this asap. where did you find the stock?
helper: i used a festool "circular saw" to do something simple and it made it really hard

me: exactly, it makes simple cuts complicated and complicated cuts simple

Offline JZ Bowmannz

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #23 on: September 25, 2014, 08:37 AM »
Duburban,

Stocks came from Alro Steel here locally in Ann Arbor, Michigan area. We are in automotive world, and it's easier to get stuff in metric locally than the rest of the country I think.

http://www.alro.com/

Offline duburban

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #24 on: September 25, 2014, 10:34 AM »
Thanks. This type of material is not something I've spent much time shopping for.
helper: i used a festool "circular saw" to do something simple and it made it really hard

me: exactly, it makes simple cuts complicated and complicated cuts simple

Offline Rusty Miller

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #25 on: September 25, 2014, 12:07 PM »
McMaster-Carr has 2mm x 12 and 4mm x 12 for like $10 for 2 3ft pieces. Just ordered some.

Rusty
Rusty Miller
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Offline Rusty Miller

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #26 on: September 30, 2014, 09:09 AM »
Just received the steel from McMaster-Carr and it is a perfect fit.  Won't have to do any sizing just a file swipe on the sharp edges.  Now to drill for the set screws and I'll be ready.
Rusty Miller
I'd rather be woodworking!

Offline promark747

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #27 on: September 30, 2014, 09:14 AM »
Rusty,

What was the part number from McMaster-Carr?

Let us know how it goes drilling the set screws.


Offline Rusty Miller

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #28 on: September 30, 2014, 09:26 AM »
Low carbon steel 4mm x 12mm x 3'  6775T43  $5.84
Low Carbon steel 2mm x 12mm x 3'  6775T23 $4.69

With shipping it was less than $20

I'll post a couple pics after I get them drilled and together. One piece of each cut in half will yield a set of connectors.

A special thanks to Mr. Bowmannz for the sizes of the steel.  It wasn't hard to find the right size at McMaster-Carr.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2014, 09:31 AM by Rusty Miller »
Rusty Miller
I'd rather be woodworking!

Offline JZ Bowmannz

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Re: Homemade guide rail connectors (not your typical ones)
« Reply #29 on: September 30, 2014, 09:54 AM »
Rusty,

I used only #8 for connecting two piece together, and #10 x 1/4" set screws.

Figure if use M6 set screws, more than half width of the material would be drilled out on the 4 mm piece, not sure that will effect the total strength of the connectors. And 1/4" long set screws will stay below the suface of the rail in the slots.

Hope that helps.