Torquing ’bout Walko Refinements

The Walko Surface Clamps from Ideal Tools have arrived! After having experienced them when assessing the Walko Workbench, I couldn’t wait for them to turn up.

The clamps are used anywhere on the surface of your bench, so a grid of 20mm (dog)holes is required, 100mm apart.  I went with a minimum of 50mm from the first line of holes to the edge, so the holes had plenty of support around them.

This specific concept of dog holes comes from both the Festool workbenches, as well as the Walko, and I have seen it used on some other bench concepts as well.  Festool also have a surface clamp similar to the Walko (possibly where the Walko design has come from?), which have some more clamping force, but less reach than the Walko, and cost a lot more.  I haven’t tried the Festool, but as far as clamping force, I found the Walkos plenty strong enough for the task.

The Hole Matrix

To drill a whole heap of holes, I could have drawn up a grid with a pencil and a straight edge, but with the Torque right there, it was a no-brainer to use it to drill its own holes.  You can see some faint lines in the photo above – where they cross is where the screws are, holding the top down.  It is a concept I’ve taken directly from the workbench at Ideal Tools – these are sacrificial tops, and if it gets cut into, so be it, but you don’t want to have a chance to hit a screw, and thus the lines to make very clear where those screws are located.

Irwin SpeedBore 3 Flute

To drill accurately sized, and round holes, I went with the 3-flute Irwin SpeedBore.  It has a tapered thread to start, which happens to really pull the bit down to engage the workpiece.  I went with this rather than the spade bit, because I wanted holes with an accurate diameter, and spade bits can sometimes go a bit haywire and drill an oval, rather than a circle.  My Bosch drill also has quite a bit of runout, so having a bit with a pilot tip to stabilise it helped a lot.  Testing the holes out after, and they couldn’t be better – just the right amount of tightness around the post of the clamp – a Goldilocks solution (not too loose, not too tight, juuust right).  There is some breakout, but given that the bench was already secured down I wasn’t going to finish the hole from the other side, and the underside doesn’t get seen.

Uniform X-Axis Spacing

To get uniform spacing of the holes was actually really easy.  With the drill mounted in the Torque Workcentre, I could drill holes wherever I wanted into the top, and at any angle (although obviously in this case I only needed 90 degrees).  Once again, having MagSwitches in the workshop paid off in spades.  In this case, the 50mm MagSquare was a definite – given the amount of mass, and therefore momentum of the sled/arm/tool, crashing into something with insufficient grip would cause it to slip, resulting in inaccurate holes.  I used the MagSquare on the rail of the X Axis, and a piece of MDF as a spacer, cut to 100mm.

Drill the hole, unlock the X Axis, move the tool 100mm, lock the axis, bring up the MagSquare, drill the hole, rinse and repeat.

Uniform Y Axis Spacing

Once a line of holes was drilled, I used the same technique to move the drill 100mm along the Y Axis. An absolute perfect application for the MagSquare, and fully justifying the extra grabbing power of the 50mm.

Commissioning the Walko Surface Clamps

The Walko clamps have 2 parts – a stop block which the work is then pressed up against, and then the moving clamps are placed in suitable holes, slid in to take up the slack, then the lever moved so the cam-action places pressure against the workpiece.  The workpiece can be pretty much any shape which is one real benefit of these clamps, and you use as many as necessary to securely hold the work securely.  In this case, a piece of avocado from Lazy Larry.  The clamps are low profile, so you can machine, surface, sand and plane right over the top of them.  In some instances, you don’t need the movable clamp, but they help prevent the piece moving on you.

Poised for Action

I went with 2 sets of these clamps – often one is enough, but 2 sets (of 2 clamps), even 3 sets is ideal.  In fact I may be tempted to get one more set for use with the Torque workcentre, that way I can use 3 clamps to hold the workpiece, and the other 3 clamps to hold the template/component I am copying when using that feature of the TWC.  In total, I drilled about 100 holes.  I’m still considering drilling a whole stack more (small) holes in one area of the bench, and create a down-draft sanding area, boxing in the underside and connecting a 4″ hose to it for sanding operations.  This TWC just presents so many possibilities, I haven’t begun to scratch the surface (literally or figuratively!)

Speaking of which, after drilling 100 holes, turning the drill on and off for each hole, I am absolutely sold on the starter switch I added (documented a couple of posts ago).  Given that it may not be as easy to source the Triton starter switch, the one I’m using for the router table from Professional Woodworkers Supplies would be a good (if not better) choice.

Refining the Incra Mounting

While finishing off the TWC top, I looked again at the Incra LS Positioner and how I had fixed it down, and decided on a near-ideal solution (and one intended by Incra!)  A couple of holes all the way through the MDF top, with a couple of bolts who’s heads engages in the track slots in the Incra base.

Under-table view

Underneath, two knobs make it easy to tighten the bolts, locking the Incra in position, yet allowing for the bolts to be easily loosened if the Incra needs to be moved, or removed.

Recessed when not needed

Here I have detached the Incra, and the bolts have dropped into the recess I drilled, so they are below the surface of the table so as not to interfere with the Torque Workcentre operation.  By having the router table fence easily removed means that it is no problem for me to utilise the entire 2.5m length of the TWC.

If you haven’t gathered, I am really happy how this has all worked out – the ease of clamping pieces anywhere on the TWC, the undertable router with a cast iron tabletop, so I can use my MagSwitch featherboards, the use (and ease of removal) of the Incra LS Positioner, the height winder on the router table, and the remote start switches on both the TWC and router table.  The router is certainly a powerful tool in my workshop, and definitely not one to be shied away from if you don’t like hand-held routing!

A perfect symbiotic union of Torque Workcentre, Incra, MagSwitch, Carbatec TS CI Wings, Triton Routers, Walko Surface Clamps, Wixey, PWS Pro Router Switch and Woodpeckers to really create the ultimate router table.  If anyone can think of a way I can improve this further, I’d love to hear it!  I still want to incorporate the Incra fence along the back edge of the table, with precision stop placement – that’s next (along with the downdraft sanding table addition).

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