A T-track system comprises various compatible components and accessories such as T-bolts, T-knobs, T-clamps, stop blocks, and fences, specifically designed for use with T-tracks or T-slot extrusions.
Having t-tracks in the workshop is extremely helpful. A t-track has a variety of uses and can be used in multiple situations. One of the main advantages is that all the accessories are compatible with the track and can be easily and quickly installed and removed as necessary.
T-tracks are essential for a variety of tools such as a table saw, a drill press, a router table, or a miter saw. They can be used as attachments for stop blocks, hold-down clamps, feather boards, and other accessories.
In a nutshell, if you want a well-equipped workshop, T-tracks are an essential component that you shouldn’t overlook. They offer versatility and convenience, allowing you to customize your work area to perfectly suit your needs.
Shop T tracks are typically made from aluminum or welded steel – extruded aluminum profiles are usually the best choice. They are easily available, and they can be bought ready-made and used right away.
Unfortunately, T tracks are not the cheapest, and equipping a workshop with a sufficient number of tracks and accessories can cost a lot of money. For a beginning woodworker, this is an unnecessary expense. There are other equipment and tools much more needed when setting up a workshop. Fortunately, you can easily make your own DIY T tracks.
The price was one of the main reasons why I decided to make my own tracks. I gradually enriched them with additional accessories and components resulting in a custom, and reusable homemade t-track system. DIY T-tracks can be easily built with ordinary/specialized router bits. The material is easily available and in the majority of cases, you will only need a double flute straight router bit to cut them.
There are a few ways how to create homemade t-tracks and I will be going through all of those in this blog post. I tried them all, but the one I prefer and use the most is the last one. 😉
Table of Contents
- 3 Ways How to Make DIY T-tracks
- Other DIY T-Track Accessories
- MAke DIY T-Track Clamps
- Make a DIY T-Track Fence
You can find all the t-track cutting methods on my Youtube channel. I appreciate every YouTube subscriber, thank you for subscribing – just Click Here To Subscribe. Thank you!
What are T-Tracks?
T-tracks are special slots you find on woodworking or metal tables and tools. You can slide things like clamps or bolts into these slots to hold your work in place. They’re useful because you can easily move and adjust these clamps to fit different projects.
The best thing about T-tracks is their flexibility. Instead of being stuck with one setup, you can change things around as you need. This means you waste less time adjusting and can focus more on your actual work. Plus, once you find a setup that works, you can use it again and again, making sure your work is always spot-on.
In short, T-tracks make your projects easier, faster, and more accurate.
What materials do I need to make my own T-tracks?
When making your own T-tracks, it’s important to have the right materials on hand to ensure a sturdy and functional end result. To begin, you’ll need a piece of plywood for the base that’s at least 9mm thick, though preferably 12mm or thicker for added durability and enough space for accessories. For the actual tracks themselves, you’ll want to use thinner strips of wood, such as HDF or MDF, which can be affixed to the base using a combination of glue and flat-head screws.
Plywood strips: 9/12mm
Strips of wood: 3/4mm HDF, MDF (possibly hardwood)
3 Ways How to Make DIY T-tracks / T-slots
Method 1: Glue Multiple Layers of wood on top of each other
The first way and the easiest one where no trim router or a router bit is needed is a method of gluing individual layers of wood on top of each other.
- 1 layer for the base
- 1 layer of 2 wood strips for the t bolts’ head
- 1 layer of 2 wood strips to form a T slot
The width of the slot between the individual strips determines which T bolts the slot is intended for. The width of the slot must be only a little wider to accommodate the bolt head but not allow it to turn. That would be the case with a hex bolt. But using Tee Bolts (toilet bolts) gives a slightly better option. Due to their oval flat heads, different sizes of bolts can be used in one slot.
In the same way, instead of a hex bolt, T-tracks can be used with nuts that would be attached from the top of the slot.
Tools and materials you will need:
In order to build the t-track (to cut the wood pieces) you will need a table saw (preferred option) or any other power tool that will help you make the cuts – a circular saw or a jigsaw.
NOTE: When gluing individual layers of wood together make sure the glue does not get in the slot. It is quite difficult (almost impossible) to get rid of the excess once the glue dries.
Watch the video below to see how to make a simple DIY T-Track by gluing layers of wood on top of each other. In this video, I am making a simple table saw crosscut fence.
Method 2: Cut a T-slot with a Specialized Router Bit
Another way of making a T-track is by using a specialized T-cutting router bit when routing a slot in the material. To cut the slot you will need a trim router and a T-slot router cutting bit. Typically, T-slots are cut on a router table.
There are multiple T-slot router bits on the market. T-slot bits are mainly used to cut long T-shaped tracks from one side of the wood piece to the other. They come in different sizes and shapes, that serve different purposes. Smaller ones to tightly capture the head of a bolt in the track or larger ones for slab walls and holding workshop tools. T-slot bits are also available with/without wings which affect the way a T-track is cut.
When cutting a T-slot with a T-cutting router bit it is better to cut a slot with a straight bit first. The straight bit will remove a lot of the material and will reduce the stress exerted on the T-slot bit, which will be used later to finalize the track.
To make a T-slot, set the depth of the straight bit just a litter lower than the actual depth of the T-slot and make a cut. Then use a T-slot router bit to clean up the track and remove the rest of the material.
NOTE: Cutting a track with a T-slot bit without having a pre-routed slot with a straight bit puts a lot of pressure on the T-slot bit. That can result in burning the material or even snapping the bit.
Also, take into account the hardness and the type of material you are cutting. It will be much easier to cut a T-slot in spruce wood in comparison to plywood.
To ensure the best result and keep yourself safe I recommend using a feather board or any other holding material to keep the workpiece tight against the fence when cutting a slot on a router table.
Cutting a T-track with a T-slot router bit requires some experience. It is not the most beginner-friendly or easiest method to cut a slot.
Honestly, I don’t use T-slot router bits all that often (usually only when cutting slots in softer woods). Instead, I’ve developed my own custom T-track system that I find much more convenient – method #3.
NOTE: A t-slot router bit does not allow for gradual trim of the material – the slot must be cut at one time. It is recommended to use a straight router bit to pre-route first and then a t-slot cutting bit to finalize the slot, which ultimately leads to buying and using both router bits anyway.
Find This Blog Post Useful?
Join my newsletter to receive the latest news, tutorials, and project plans sent directly to your inbox!
Method 3: Make a Custom T track System
The last method, I prefer the most is making my DIY t-track system with compatible accessories. I have been using the system for a few years now and it is the best homemade T track alternative to aluminum shop tracks.
The t-track system is primarily designed for use with M6 bolts, but it can also accommodate other types of bolts. Building the system and its components is a simple process that only requires a straight router bit and a trim router (If you don’t have a router you can also optionally use a table saw). The best part is that it’s an affordable option for anyone looking to keep costs low.
I’ve found that using the same design for all my workshop projects has been a game-changer. It means I can use the same accessories on any of my builds, over and over again. This makes things way more efficient and saves me a ton of time in the long run.
NOTE: One key consideration during the building process is to be careful not to get any glue inside the tracks themselves, as this can be difficult to clean up later on and may interfere with the functionality of the T-tracks.
Take a look at some of the workshop projects where I am using this homemade T-track system.
1. Make a DIY T track
Tools and Material you will need:
- Plywood desk (thickness 12mm, minimum 9mm)
- MDF/HDF strips (thickness 3mm/4mm)
- Wood Glue / Flat-head Screws
- Straight router bit
- Router Dado Guide
To make the t-tracks typically I am using a 12mm thick plywood desk and 4mm (3mm) thick MDF strips. I am combining the t-tracks with DIY t-track bolts (see below). Together the t-track and bolts take around 11mm. Nevertheless, it is also possible to use a 9mm board with 3mm thick MDF strips.
To cut the t-track I am using a straight router bit and a router dado guide. A router dado jig is a huge helper when it comes to creating exact-width dados. The resulting cuts are clean and precise. Then cut wooden strips and use glue or screws to attach them in the slots forming a t-track.
If you want to make long T-tracks you can cut them using a table saw. The same applies to cutting the wooden strips. In that case, use a push block (not a push stick) as you need to apply downward pressure on the workpiece. I am using the MicroJig Grr-Ripper and it works great.
NOTE: Using Tee bolts is also an option. Their flat oval heads would take less space and could be used with a thinner base.
How to make wooden T tracks
Step 1 – Draw the design of the T-track on the base.
Step 2 – Cut the center dado using a trim router with a straight router bit. Use a router dado guide to ensure an accurate and clean cut.
Step 3 – Cut the side rabbets. Their depth is equal to the thickness of the MDF strips.
Step 4 – Glue or screw the MDF strips on the routed rabbets. If using glue make sure it does not get in the slot.
One of the key advantages of using these DIY T-tracks is that if you already have a few track clamps in your workshop, you can easily incorporate them with this system. The clamps glide smoothly along the tracks, allowing for effortless adjustments and secure hold-downs.
Watch the video below to see how to make custom DIY T-Tracks on a router table.
2. Make DIY T track Bolts
Tools and Material you will need:
- Plywood strip (30 x 15 x 6 mm)
- Bolts (optionally, the bolt’s head can be ground)
- Chisel/Forstner bit
For the T-track bolts, I am using a plywood strip (30 x 15 x 6 mm) with a drilled ø6mm hole and a chiseled hexagon in the center. The plywood strip serves as a case for an M6 bolt. The bolt fits exactly in the case and nicely slides in the t-track. If needed, it is easy to replace the bolt with a shorter/longer one.
TIP: Sand the edges and round the corners of the plywood strip to ensure a nice fit/slide in the T track.
How to make DIY T-track Bolts
Step 1 – Drill a 6mm hole in a plywood strip
Step 2 – Chisel a hexagon for the bolts head
Step 3 – Cut the strip to size
Step 4 – Sand the edges and corners of the strip
Step 5 – Insert an M6 bolt
Step 6 – Optionally, glue the bolt using either epoxy or wood glue
NOTE: Unless necessary I don’t recommend gluing the bolt in the case. This way you can easily change for longer/shorter bolts as needed.
Watch the video below to see how to make homemade DIY T-Track Bolts.
Other DIY T track Accessories
The t-track and the t-bolts are the basis of the T-track system. Once you have those you can add up additional jigs and accessories that can be easily used with the system. These are, for example, hold-down clamps, a fence, stop blocks, and others.
1. DIY T track Clamps
T-track clamps are designed to work seamlessly with T-tracks, allowing you to quickly and easily secure workpieces in place during a wide range of woodworking tasks. These clamps are versatile and flexible and can be used in a variety of different workshop settings to help streamline your workflow and improve your accuracy and precision.
Tools and Material you will need:
- Plywood strips
- Wood Glue
- Trim Router / Hand Drill
If you want to see how to build T-track clamps read this article: How to build DIY T-track clamps. Find the plans below.
2. DIY T track Fence
A T-track fence is an essential accessory for any woodworking project that requires precision cuts and consistent results. It’s designed to fit onto a T-track system, allowing you to quickly and easily adjust the position and angle of your workpiece for maximum accuracy and precision.
Tools and Material you will need:
- Plywood strips
- MDF Strips
- Wood Glue/Screws
- Table Saw/Circular Saw
Watch the video below to see how to make a DIY T track fence.
📌 Found this post useful and inspiring?
Ready to build it? Save THIS PIN to your Board on Pinterest!