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Woodworking jig runners metal or aluminum?

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  • Woodworking jig runners metal or aluminum?

    I have the r4511 table saw with the marble top and i am going to start buiding a bunch of different jigs. I was wondering what would be better for the runners metal or aluminum? I was also wondering if anyone knows what type of steel or aluminum to use to make my own runners? i am going to buy stock at a local metal shop and i don't know what steel or aluminum alloy to use either.

  • #2
    Re: Woodworking jig runners metal or aluminum?

    I prefer acrylic. It is a little easier to work with.

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    • #3
      Re: Woodworking jig runners metal or aluminum?

      Originally posted by firefight422 View Post
      I have the r4511 table saw with the marble top and i am going to start buiding a bunch of different jigs. I was wondering what would be better for the runners metal or aluminum? I was also wondering if anyone knows what type of steel or aluminum to use to make my own runners? i am going to buy stock at a local metal shop and i don't know what steel or aluminum alloy to use either.
      When you say runners, I assume you mean the bars that ride in the miter gage slots?

      If the slot on your saw is cut right into the granite top, I don't think that you should use aluminum at all. Aluminum is a soft metal and you might well get some metal wiping of aluminum onto the stone. Most commercial runners that are aluminum have a clear anodize coating on the aluminum. "Anodize" is aluminum oxide - Al203 - which is actually a ceramic material and much harder than the aluminum. You would have to take your aluminum parts to a plating shop to have this done - not practical to do at home.

      If you want to go with steel, use what is called mild steel. This is just a low carbon steel with no alloying elements. Your local steel supplier will likely have "1010", "1018" or "1020". Any of these will be okay. Get cold-rolled stock - it's a lot smoother and dimensionally more accurate than hot-rolled stock. Unless you're planning to machine all the surfaces of the steel - then hot or cold rolled makes no difference for your purpose. In any case, you will have to get some dry film lube on the steel. Stay away from alloyed steels, and stay far away from stainless steels... they don't slide well.

      The best choice IMO is a plastic material. You have a few choices. The best is a material called "Delrin" - or the generic name, "acetal copolymer". This is a great low friction plastic, easy to machine. But pricey. You can also use nylon - ask for "nylon 6". THere's other plastics as well - including dirt cheap "abs" plastic - but Delrin or nylon are your best bets - very tough and slide with very little friction. Delrin is better than nylon.

      FInally.... don't discount hardwood. I've used maple runners with a coat of paste wax on them. Wood is easy to work with your existing tools, with the wax on 'em they slide like buttah, and you can easily and cheaply replace them when they get a bit of wear.

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      • #4
        Re: Woodworking jig runners metal or aluminum?

        I used red oak scrap on my last sled and with was it is smooth on my 4511ts.
        Charles

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        • #5
          Re: Woodworking jig runners metal or aluminum?

          I use red oak for my runners as well. In fact, I just put a coat of paste wax on the cross cut sled runners. They are drying before polishing.

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          • #6
            Re: Woodworking jig runners metal or aluminum?

            Although a little costly, I prefer to use the Miter Sliders from Incra. They are aluminum, anodized...and the best part is that they are adjustable. So even if you experience wear, simply turning the adjustment screws will take up the slack.

            And as for wear...yes, the slots on the 4511 will be a little more abrasive than in a steel table. But not by that much.
            Last edited by tomapple; 12-18-2009, 08:43 AM.

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            • #7
              Re: Woodworking jig runners metal or aluminum?

              I use hardwood for my runners too, I think the last set I used was red oak as well but I may be wrong. You can also use UHMW plastics which, while they might be a bit pricier, are ridiculously slippery. Depending on how many you make, a relatively small piece cut into appropriate strips might last you a long, long time. I still have a strip sitting around, just in case.

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              • #8
                Re: Woodworking jig runners metal or aluminum?

                Like Tomapple, I also used the Incra product for my runners. Works fine on my 4511.

                Big G

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                • #9
                  Re: Woodworking jig runners metal or aluminum?

                  thank you all for your information. my workshop is in my garage that is not heated and i was a little worried about using wood for the runners because of expansion in the cold garage.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Woodworking jig runners metal or aluminum?

                    My shop is also in an unheated garage. I use some plastic, a couple mild steel, but most of my jigs have oak. If using wood, use a hard wood (by hard, i mean on the Janka scale, such as white oak (red works well too), hickory, etc. If using a large grained wood like oak, hickory or ash, try to find a piece that has the grain running straight down it, as it will have less tendency to try to warp.

                    I prefer the plastic when I can get it at a good price. Cheap plastic cutting boards bought at a discount store work for shorter jigs.

                    I wax all of them, and the bottom of the jig as well, but I have a cast-iron saw..

                    Go
                    Last edited by Gofor; 12-18-2009, 08:53 PM.
                    Practicing at practical wood working

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                    • #11
                      Re: Woodworking jig runners metal or aluminum?

                      I use plastic cutting boards .50 thick from Wal-Mart & Harbor Freight.

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