Microjig Dovetail Clamping system

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  • Microjig Dovetail Clamping system

    Hello,

    Has anyone looked into Microjig Dovetails Clamping system? It looks like pretty neat design to build jigs and also table tops clamping system (superior to MFT style??)

    https://www.microjig.com/products/dovetail-clamps-pro

    I am thinking of investing in one so thought of checking if there are issues anyone found.

    Thanks in advance,

    NG

  • #2
    It is an interesting idea... but rather expensive in my opinion, especially the clamps themselves. The opening/main picture on the web link you provided shows the clamps being used in a work tabletop. You can do similar things with "T" track; plus a whole lot more.

    Basic T-track example: Rockler's T-Track
    Example bolts that fit T-track: Rocker's T-track bolts.

    Notice those bolts look similar to closet flange bolts - the ones used to hold toilets to the floor drain fitting. The heads are a little narrower. There are various brands of T-track; some are slightly different in size. Some will accept regular hex-head bolts in addition to these flat headed things. You can buy, or make, all sorts of hold-downs that utilize T-Track; T-Track is also a common way to mount router fences to router tables, to add fences to drill press tables, etc. It's pretty handy stuff. I'm not aware of big clamps though like the Microjig ones in that picture. The closest thing would be something like Rockler's hold-down clamps and T-Track kit. Those clamps are available from several sources; I'm just using Rockler as an example as their web page has nice pictures. Harbor Freight sells a similar clamp... or at least they used to.

    Some of Microjig's pictures have shown their dovetail clamps being used to clamp something by their edges to a tabletop, imagine an "L" shaped fence with dovetail slots in the flat part of the "L." The Rockler clamps noted in the current Tall Fence thread on this site do a similar job.

    When I am clamping stuff to my workbench top, most of the time I want to work on the top of the workpiece... so Microjig's clamps would be in the way. Plus, I don't like having tall skinny things standing UP from the benchtop... too easy to lean over and poke an eye out or jab my forehead. When I use F-body clamps to hold stuff to the workbench, the bulk of the clamp is pointing DOWN for this very reason. My bench has traditional bench dog holes which I use quite frequently. I have a bunch of plastic ones similar to the pieces sold with the Black & Decker Workmate tables; they're nice because if I accidentally hit them with a chisel or hand plane the plastic won't damage my tools.

    An interesting read on holding stuff to workbenches. Most of Christopher Schwarz's articles are about hand tool work... because he notes there are oodles of books on power tools but little on hand tool stuff these days.
    Popular Woodworking article by Christopher Schwarz of simple ways to hold boards on workbenches without vices.
    A benchtop with dog holes, bench dogs, a pair of holdfasts, and scrap material to make long fences, a doe's foot, etc. will go a long way.

    mpc

    Comment


    • nicer20
      nicer20 commented
      Editing a comment
      Great points - especially about the clamps sticking upwards being a hazard. Very valid and have hurt myself recently when I mounted jigsaw upside down in my vice.

      On a separate note - I do need to educate myself more with hand tools. Especially planes but may be I should ask and seek advice on that in a different thread.

      Thanks for taking time to guide me.

    • mpc
      mpc commented
      Editing a comment
      Do web searches for Christopher Schwarz and Thomas MacDonald, aka Tommy Mac, for various videos on hand plane stuff. Most of the magazine web sites have tons of how-to videos as well. You need a good sharpening system that can handle blades around 2 1/2 inches wide to get started. How to videos on tuning up older/used/cheaper hand planes are everywhere too but it pays to have used a good, quality plane first so you know how they should feel. Hand planes can be an addiction so it pays to think about how you want to do your woodworking: by hand as much as possible, power tools as much as possible, etc. For example: many classic hand plane jobs can be done by a router today. With skill and practice you can use larger hand planes to process rough boards... compared to modern methods using a jointer and thickness planer. Modern methods are faster and easier but the tools can be pricey.

      A good starter hand plane - handy for all sorts of stuff - is a good block plane. Either low angle or regular. These are small (and thus not so expensive) and are handy for knocking sharp corners off projects, trimming tenons that are just a wee bit too thick, and face planing small sized boards - pieces too small for power tools or jack planes. A #4 or #5 jack plane ("Jack of all trades" plane) is a good second plane. A jack plane plus a "shooting board" help trim long skinny workpieces (picture frame parts, rails and styles for cabinet doors, etc.) to length. Or to tweak the miter angle ever so slightly.

      mpc

  • #3
    It looks like an interesting system and MicroJigs products are well made.

    I personally wouldn't want to clean sawdust out of all the grooves at the end of the day.
    I can also see things getting hung up on the grooves if you are trying to slide a workpiece that isn't completely flat across the table.

    The solution they have for edge clamping shown concerns me because it is not squeezing the workpiece between the clamp and itself. It utilizes 5 clamps, three of which had the end pins removed and the clamp arm reversed. When the clamps are tightened in that configuration the force is going to be against the workpiece and the opposing force is going to be pushing against the dovetail slot at the end of the jig board. If you do that with anything other than heavy hardwood, it is likely to blow out the dovetail.

    I do have 4 similar Festool F clamps and when I use them on my MFT, I haven't had an issue with the sticking up in the wrong place and being in the way, but I usually use them if I'm cutting at the end of the piece with a jigsaw or using the domino on the ends or edges. For surface work I use an MFT with dogs and 12mm high edge clamps so all of the clamping elements are below the level of the workpiece surface.

    Here's how I can tell if something is expensive or not. The Festool version of the clamps is only $1.00 more per pair.
    Chr's
    __________
    An ethical man knows the right thing to do.
    A moral man does it.

    Comment


    • nicer20
      nicer20 commented
      Editing a comment
      Great points - especially about the reversed clamps.

      Thanks for sharing your insights - I learn a lot here.
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