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Workholding is usually a combination of wasteboard / bed design and matching clamps. A further addition and nicety are Fixtures. (Forum example)

Securing the Workpiece

You'll need some sort of option to hold the workpiece, from the basic double-sided tape (this is described in the tutorial) to clamps along the edge of the piece to more sophisticated work-holding methods such as V- and T-slot beds w/ custom clamps or a vacuum table (Forum discussion).

A comment on spacing --- some sort of ratio (phi?) is likely more useful than even spacing.


De facto standard hole pattern for fixtures

Bootstrapping a fixture setup:

Threaded Inserts





Note that with a two part wasteboard and supporting structure as on an XXL, one can decouple a half, machine it, and then switch as shown in:


Threaded tables --- elegant aluminum clamp to use with threaded table --- includes Carbide Create files: S3 BED LEVEL.c2d, S3 GRID 1 inch.c2d, 4 Clamps.c2d

Extension for front of machine:

Mounted clamps



  • 4 - Misumi HFSQN4-15250-1015 ALUMINUM FRAME incl. shipping: $263.99
  • 1 pack of 100 - Misumi PACK-HNTP6-6 NUTS FOR ALUMINUM FRAMES (spring nuts) incl. shipping: $55.01
  • 16 - M6-1 flat head machine bolts (not very long - can't remember the exact length): $6
  • 1/2" felt strip for steel bar: $3.50
  • 1" steel bar from local steel company: $17

Also: Help from next door neighbor brazing tabs onto the steel bar for mounting: Priceless

Additionally: a tap-and-die set, a countersink bit, drill bits you're comfortable using on aluminum and steel, and plenty of time and patience.


M6 T-slot dimensions:

Slat dimensions:



Use clamps with fixtures and corners to secure material from the sides:


Suggestions for when using adhesives[17]:


Clamping systems

Tooling Plates


Discussion of making one's own:

One ingenious idea was to use a layered system which had holes which could be filled with 6mm Airsoft pellets:


An interesting addition, tabs may be added either manually to a file, or as an automated/controlled feature in some CAM software. tab size/thickness is a consideration. Guideline(s):

  • Plywood --- tabs should be thick enough to include 2 plies. [36]

Orienting the Workpiece

Considerations when placing the workpiece on the machine:

  • Which side should be up / down?
    • If you're milling blind rabbets for a box-bottom, then the nice side should be on the top
  • Where should one reference the machine origin?
    • If you're milling rabbets, then the reference should be to the work surface where the nice side is
    • If you're willing a piece which has countersinks for mounting hardware, then the reference should be the top of the workpiece

Once it is placed, the Zero position will need to be set. It may be necessary to do this sequentially, one axis at a time, possibly even using relative offsets from the desired origin.[37]

Location of a small piece relative to larger stock:

Ensuring workpiece is plumb

There are several options for this:

  • Tram the wasteboard[38]
  • Probe the workpiece/surface[39]
  • Mill a holding pocket in a suitable material
  • Shim the workpiece[40]

Two-sided Cutting --- holds material up to 1.25" thick, 2.9" x 4.9" --- the circular and diamond locator pins are explained in the Carrlane Catalogue. Made to hold stock less than 3"x5" in size, and up to 1.2" thick. Machined to .002" tolerance. See: and the video at:

Carbide 3D answer video:

Using the center of the stock will double any errors, instead opposite corners are suggested:

Four-sided frame

Soft Jaws

Drilling Holes

Clamp Designs


Other options:

One option is to mill a rabbet along the bottom edge of a piece and clamp into that:


thumbv3.stl[47] --- fits M6 SHCS


Use a bar across large flat stock:

Accessories and Products

Threaded tables/wasteboards/Clamps



Clamps and clamp sets

Machinist’s parallels



Fixturing Wax


Threaded insert tools

Carbide 3D wasteboard thicknesses

  • original SO3 two-part MDF wasteboard ~12.7mm --- current production (since Summer 2016?) are 0.75"
  • SO3 alu. threaded table ~13mm
  • XL MDF wasteboard ~19.5mm
  • Nomad MDF wasteboard ~12.85mm
  • Nomad alu. threaded table ~15.7mm[73]

Table designs

Spoilboard pattern (parametric): [74]

Fixture designs

Quick Clamp Fixture --- design using


Boards held vertically

Fixture drawn up in Carbide Create:

Machining stock square

References [75]

Jigs and fixtures : a reference book showing many types of jigs F.H. Colvin and L.L. Haas.


Setup Reduction Through Effective Workholding, by Edward G Hoffman