Aluminum Extrusions For Woodworking
I wanted a way to temporarily attach featherboards, or a tall fence, or anything else I might think of, to my table saw fence. I saw people using aluminum extrusions clamped to their fences for this purpose, and I liked how it seemed to work really well, and it could be removed as easily as it was mounted. So I set out to find a good source for these pieces of metal convenience.
A quick google search for "aluminum extrusions", turns up dozens of companies that sell them, but I didn't want to have them shipped, because they can be bent in transit, and I wanted a six foot length, so the shipping weight and cost were prohibitive.
I ended up going with Grainger. They offer lots of different sizes and shapes, and they have retail locations all over the U.S., and I found one just 20 minutes away. If you're in the Providence, RI area, it's located at 78 Jefferson Blvd., Warwick, RI 02888.
I didn't want anything too tall or too heavy. After paging through their extensive online catalog, I settled on item #5JTA6. I got a six foot length, that is 3" tall, and 1" thick. The three slots it has are each just a tad over 1/4" wide. It cost $54.64 ($9.11/ft), including tax, and there was no shipping charge, because I could just go pick it up once they notified me it was ready.
After I got it home, I measured my fence, and cut an equally long piece from the six foot length using a metal cutting chop saw. It cut like butter. You will need to file the edges of the cut side to smooth them over. Then I needed a quick way to temporarily attach it to my fence. I decided to use three 3/4" flat-head screws that would slide into the middle slot on the back of the extrusion, and into a piece of nice flat PVC "board" of roughly the same size. I counterbored three holes on the back side of the board, so that the bolts just poked through, and I could get a washer and nut on each one, and they were still below the surface of the board, so that it would sit flush against the fence.
Then I used universal fence clamps to attach the pvc/extrusion combination to my table saw fence.
I couldn't be happier with the final outcome, and I'm still pondering what cool things I can do with the rest of the extrusion. I'll post anything new that I do as well.