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T-Track

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T-track is a versatile product that has many great uses around the shop. It can be attached to the fence of a chop saw, drill press or router table to provide a quick, secure place to attach feather boards, stops and hold-downs. It also makes a great addition to jigs and fixtures with parts that need to be adjustable or easily removed. At first glance, all T-tracks look pretty much the same. There are, however, several subtle but important differences among brands. We bought eleven brands commonly available and put them to the test to see which ones we liked best.

Sizes and Prices
T-track is available in lengths from 1 ft. to 12 ft. and averages about $4.50 per lineal foot. It is usually sold in 1- or 2-ft. increments, but some brands can be special ordered to a specific length. Most T-tracks are approximately 3/4 in. wide with a thickness of either 3/8  or 1/2 in. (see Chart). All but one are made of extruded aluminum.

PHOTO 1:
We like T-track that accepts the hex head of a standard bolt. It will save you from having to buy the special connectors that some tracks require.

 

PHOTO 2:
Some T-tracks have a deep slot. It's deep enough to accept a hex nut and is a feature that will increase your connecting and fastening options.

Features We like
Accepts Standard Hardware T-tracks that accept standard hex head bolts and nuts as connectors are a big plus (Photos 1 and 2), because standard nuts and bolts are readily available at hardware stores. This means you won't get stuck in the middle of a project because you don't have the right connector. Some T-tracks require special connectors that are only available from one supplier. Pre-drilled for Easy Mounting We prefer T-tracks that are pre-drilled and countersunk to accept No. 6 or bigger wood screws (Photo 3). It's also nice to have screw holes spaced no more than 5 in. apart. Closely spaced holes mean more holes for more mounting screws and less risk of pulling the T-track off the mounting surface. Also, if you need to cut the T-track shorter, you will still have a hole near the end. If you need to add screw holes to a T-track, you can drill them yourself. It's a bit of a hassle but not difficult (Photos 4 and 5). Some T-tracks even come with a groove to help you center the drill bit. A groove on the bottom is best because drilling the shank hole from the top leaves a burr on the bottom that must be removed with a file.

PHOTO 3:
T-tracks pre-drilled to accept No. 6 or larger screws have better holding strength than the tracks that are drilled for No. 4 screws.

 

PHOTO 4:
Drill the shank hole from the bottom of the T-track with a 5/32-in.-dia. bit. Some T-tracks have a groove to help center the bit; it's helpful but not essential. A pencil line and center punch also work well.

Grooved for Glue
Glue grooves or lips on the sides of T-tracks provide a mechanical bond when gluing a T-track into a dado (Photos 6 and 7). Gluing is the best way to mount a T-track in a dado when the material below the dado is too thin to hold screws. Undrilled T-tracks have one advantage here: There are no screw holes for glue to squeeze up through. If your T-track has screw holes, just cover the holes on the bottom side with small pieces of masking tape before gluing.

PHOTO 5:
Make the countersink for the screw head with a 9/32-in.-dia. drill bit. Make the countersink just deep enough so the screw head is flush with the inside of the T-track. Setting the depth stop on your drill press will prevent you from drilling too deep.

 

PHOTO 6:
Drill the shank hole from the bottom of the T-track with a 5/32-in.-dia. bit. Some T-tracks have a groove to help center the bit; it's helpful but not essential. A pencil line and center punch also work well.

Fits in a Miter Slot
Some T-tracks will fit into miter slots on tablesaws, bandsaws and router tables (Photo 8). Some T-tracks can be used with the slot up or down, while others must be one way or the other to get a good fit. The 3/8-in.-thick tracks are the best choice for use in miter slots. Thicker tracks will extend above the miter slots and you will have to cut a dado in the bottom of the jig you are making.

PHOTO 7:
Hold the T-track in place with a dowel and some weight when gluing it into a dado. Epoxy is the glue of choice because it bonds to both wood and metal and is readily available at hardware stores. Use an epoxy that takes at least 15 minutes to set, so you don't have to rush.

 

PHOTO 8:
T-tracks that fit into miter slots make handy runners for sleds or jigs. They should slide easily but snugly.

Specialty T-Track
Many woodworking tool and supply companies also sell a variety of special-application T-tracks. Some have multiple slots, unique shapes or even a built-in tape measure. One type is the miter-slot T-track, which is designed to accept the bar of a standard miter gauge. In addition to these specialty T-tracks, a huge selection of ready-made jigs and fixtures is available that you can add to your T-tracks. For more information on specialty T-tracks and T-track accessories, contact the companies listed in the Chart.

Incra T-track
The Incra T-track has a lot going for it. We particularly liked its unique recess at the bottom. It allows you to use No. 8 pan head screws for easy, very secure mounting. The pre-drilled screw holes are 3 in. apart so you should never have to drill additional holes. The deep slot will accept both standard 1/4-in. hex head bolts and nuts. The track has ridges on the sides that add holding strength if you glue the track into a dado.



Fast Trak Minitrack
FasTTrak's Minitrack has a lip on one edge that makes it slightly over 3/4 in. wide, but the lip can be filed for a perfect fit in a miter slot. The lip and the grooves on the other side provide a positive bond if you want to glue the track into a dado. The track comes drilled for No. 8 flat head screws, so you can use a standard sheetrock screw to mount it. Drilling the larger hole does cause divots along the slot of the track, but the divots didn't cause any problems with the connectors or jigs we tried in the track. This track's 3/8-in. thickness makes it a good choice if you need to install a dado in 3/4-in. material.

Our Picks

We gave our top rating to two T-tracks. They both share some of the best features we liked, yet each stands out for a unique feature of its own. We didn't pick any Best Buys because T-track is all so similarly priced.