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The fixture plates and clamps

Jake2465

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Hi everyone,

I just got started with this little weekend business of mine. I am interested in selling a line of fixture plates and what I call "low-profile" clamps to go along with them. This got started because I told myself that I would make my own fixture plate about a year ago when I needed to machine something that the vice would not really help out with, and I just never got around to it :rolleyes:. Then, the Corona hit and I was bored out of my mind and revisited my clamp idea for lack of anything better to do with my time.

I produced the fixture plate and then the clamps came around a few days later. I wanted to make the clamps small so they can stay out of the way of the mill when a retract is called out and rapids are used. So, I made the clamps to allow the socket head cap screws to nestle inside.

Recently, I had an opportunity to make a little bit of income with some farm-out work from a local manufacture and they wanted me to take their A36 flame cut stock down to size so their operators can easily zero off a known size and go with it. I knew that a couple of the pieces would not be ideal for just clamping directly with the vice and I would need to make soft jaws to do it properly. Instead, I poped my fixture plate onto my vice and just used the clamps to hold the part down while I used a contour op to go around the sides of the part. If I needed the clamps to be moved to another side, I simply removed the clamps and shifted them around, keeping in mind to keep one locked down at all times so the part did not shift on me. It worked out just great and I did not have to make any soft jaws.

Here are the particulars of the fixture plate and the clamps:

  • The plate measures 6" x 12" x 0.75" and are made out of aluminum
  • 220, 1/4-20 threaded holes
  • 72, 0.25" holes for dowel pins for 90 deg and 45 deg part location.
  • Parts can be evenly spaced with the pins being used as a fence.

  • The clamps measure 5/8" x 1/2" x 2.5" and are made out of 1018.
  • When clamped down, they ride 0.25" above the part.
  • recess to allow socket head cap screw to sit inside the clamp.
  • No threaded stud for the end mill to strike against.
  • serrated rear and matching step blocks.
Another thing that I wanted to point out is that the quill does not have to be extended as much because the clamps are low-profile. the Z retract height can be set lower so the quill does not have to extend as much which knee mills like a bunch.

Here are some pictures of the product and also some things I machined with them. Pictured holding onto the plate is a Kurt 4" vice.

My website is www.daytoncncproducts.com
 

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Jake2465

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We call this a sub plate and toe clamps in the trade .

I've often wondered what they are really called. I think it kind of depends on the region and the trade. I've heard them called fixture plates and tooling plates in my area. Some have said to me that its a subplate or a base plate. It kind of makes it hard to figure out the SEO side of this. I'm supposed to suggest keywords for search relevance and I'm never sure what the majority calls it. I gave Keith Rucker one as a gift and he ended up showcasing it on his YouTube channel and he called it a fixture pallet which I have never heard before :). I always thought of a pallet as a custom machined piece of tooling that is used to bang out parts at a cyclic rate.

And then for the clamps, I have been told they are toe clamps, strap clamps or possibly finger clamps o_O.
 
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mmcmdl

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Trouble with trying to sell them is , if you need one for your equipment , you have the equipment to make one , but there's no hurt in trying .
 

Jake2465

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Trouble with trying to sell them is , if you need one for your equipment , you have the equipment to make one , but there's no hurt in trying .

That's true. The selling point will be the convenience of simply making a purchase and having it mailed. And from what I have gathered, many are willing to pay for the convenience if they don't want to fool with it.

But, looking at it on the bright side, if nobody ends up wanting the fixtures, then I will pivot and start selling custom machined aluminum toilet paper stands that can hold scented cartridges and have embossed sayings on them such as "I survived Covid 2020". And the two zeros in 2020 can be toilet paper rolls instead of zeros :D.
 
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7milesup

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I like your spirit!

Now, fast forward to July 18th, year 2053. It is a strange day for Pete. Today is the day he has to open the last roll of toilet paper that his parents bought in 2020...
 

Jester966

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That's a lot of holes for someone to do on their own without a CNC. Doable for sure, but pretty monotonous even if you do have the time.

You should post parallelism and flatness specs on your website. Your prices are actually really good.

I don't need the fixtures plates (I have access to a CNC) but I just placed an order for two sets of your clamps.
 

Jake2465

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That's a lot of holes for someone to do on their own without a CNC. Doable for sure, but pretty monotonous even if you do have the time.

You should post parallelism and flatness specs on your website. Your prices are actually really good.

I don't need the fixtures plates (I have access to a CNC) but I just placed an order for two sets of your clamps.
Thank you very much for your support :).

Hopefully, in mid-June or July, I can get a hold of a surface plate and a nice height gauge to give me some confirmation of flatness and parallelism besides using a caliper and micrometer. Perhaps sometime this year I would like to offer a precision fixture option with the CMM guys in mind. Surface ground sides and guaranteed to something like +-.0002. Those would be made out of steel. The trouble I see with it is that I would have to charge a good bit of money to make it practical. Steel will blunt the taps much sooner than aluminum and taking the plates to a grinding shop would add another expense. Next thing I know, the fixture plates that sell for $100+ out of aluminum end up going for $400+ or more when made of steel and ground to some standard.
 

extropic

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Regarding the 1/4-20 plate:
Are the tapped holes through or blind (how deep)?
Are the tapped holes chamfered?
How deep are the dowel pin holes?
What diameter and tolerance are the dowel pin holes?
Your website doesn't seem to specify the plate thickness. It should, with a tolerance.
Are you using plate or extruded 6061?
Are all 6 faces machined (or saw cut, or mill finish)?

If you specify the answers to those questions (on your site), across the board, It would indicate that you're not trying to hide anything and it will attract more customers.

What is the S&H for a 6 x 12 plate? What carrier?

Your prices are good, but your description is sparse. I'd like to know what I'm buying. it's all about the tolerances.
 

Jake2465

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I would not call the plates I produce to be high precision. I'd say they are good for general work, but I would not slap one down on the mill if needing to do some kind of government job that calls out tenths on tolerances. This is because I am trying to produce the fixtures quickly so I can provide a better price for them.
I have another product line in mind for those that are interested in a fixture plate with good tolerances and some no joke inspection work. Those high-end plates I would likely produce out of steel, but they won't be available for at least a couple of months. I hope that kind of gives you my perspective on it. But yes, I do need to do something about that.

Yes, that website is bare-bones and needs more info for sure. Part of the reason I do not call out tolerances on plates is that I do not own inspection equipment yet. I would rather not call out a tolerance with my hand calipers or a micrometer and advertise that. In June I plan to get that issue squared away with a purchase of a surface plate and a height gauge that has one of those fancy electronic indicators that can give me .00005 on a resolution. Then, I can scan the surface of the fixture plates and see how they are holding up. Consequently, I have not had as many machinists buy, but I have had gunsmiths and welding/fab guys really take a liking to the fixtures :).

About the aluminum fixture plate:

The tapped holes are blind. They are 0.650 deep. I allow my tap to have a little room down there at the bottom of the holes so I don't shear them off, so the threads end up being around 0.500 deep.

Yes, the tapped holes are chamfered. Around a 0.030 chamfer on them.

The dowel pin holes are .450 deep, but that does not take into account the conical angle at the bottom of the hole. Let's see, a 118 deg .25" drill bit with a 118deg angle. Take half of that and I've got 59deg and take half the diameter and I basically have .100 for easy math. Then, I've got Sin(59deg)=0.1/x . Rewrite that and I've got x=.1/sin(59deg) and I get a depth loss of around .117". So, I would say that .450 deep pin hole would have a useful depth of .333.

The dowel pin holes are .250dia (more likely .251). I do not call a tolerance on them as I use a .25" screw machine drill bit and leave them be. using a reamer and getting the holes to tolerance would probably add another $40 or $60 to the plate and I did not want to jack the price up.

The plate is faced down to .730.

I am using 6061 for the material. US stock.

four of the six sides are machined. lengthwise parts that the vice would clamp to are left as stock.

If one spends over $125 on the site, I provide free shipping to the lower 48. The 1/4-20 fixture plate kit is $129.99, so I cover the shipping. I use USPS regional for the shipping carrier.

I understand where you are coming from on the tolerances. I hope what I said here gives you some insight into the direction I have been taking. If you would rather hold off until I can provide actual accuracy numbers with proof of it, then you will need to give me a little while to get up to that level. I do appreciate the advice and I have jotted down what you said here. I believe you are not the only one wondering about it.
 
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extropic

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Thank you for the info. IMO, all that should be presented right up front and center. Tell it like it is so your potential customers can know what to expect. Otherwise, we have to ask or make assumptions.
Asking makes work and takes time. Making assumptions leads to misunderstandings.

It's all as I expected (except the tapped holes aren't through). I think your plates are good value for the money.
 

Jake2465

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Thanks again for taking the time to ask and give feedback on what I can do to improve. I do want to provide some kind of accuracy statement about what I have available. I just don't feel comfortable doing it without a surface plate and a height gauge. with that being said, once I get a hold of those things, I will probably take ten of my machined plates and take them to the surface plate and record all the values and generate a bell graph so I can calculate an RMS value that I can call out for the tolerance.
 

Jake2465

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I am happy to say that I have acquired a nice granite surface plate. In a couple of weeks, I should have the site updated with the general specifications for the fixtures.
 

Jester966

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I have received my clamps from Dayton CNC. There was a bit of a delay shipping to Canada, presumably due to the current pandemic, but Jake provided tracking and his communication while we waited was excellent. The size is perfect for what I'll be using them for and I really like the low-profile design. They are professionally made and black-oxided. I couldn't have produced them myself for what they cost - the value on these is awesome!
 
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