"Cartridge based" machining area

Still mulling this over, I am looking towards machine flexibilty. This is my third machine, and Elite Foreman.

I have had the Journeyman with a QCW frame, and while it was nice, the idea of doing metal on it… well left me concerned.

My new torsion box table will be 70x70 with a 12" notch at max X to allow for vertical milling. The table has 3/4" Baltic birch ply top & bottom,

So, what I am thinking of doing is mounting the 1F on blocks, to raise it a bit. Then drill holes in the tabletop on a regular pattern. I would use the 1F to layout the grid (at 96 mm (3.8") to match MFT, but any should work)

With the grid of holes laid out, use threaded inserts in the holes. Now I can clamp down different pallets for different applications.

  • Standard T track pallet
  • Hardboard & Aluminum pallet to work metals
  • Vacuum pod pallet
  • ? what weird stuff comes up.

What I am wondering about is:

  • While the cartridges/pallets remain flat enough (yes may need to face after each install)
  • Will clamps into the threaded inserts hold down the cartridges well enough (just hold the perimeter)
  • Making the cartridge off the machine, then just bolting it down is easier.

Thanks for your thoughts.

If I was going to use this machine to cut metal mostly I would make the table top out of metal, aluminum most likely,

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I am guessing 20% or less metal work.

I am making a clone of a SMW 1/4" aluminum pallet. Using disposable tempered hardboard underneath the pallet should allow me to use a bit of mist cooling if needed. When the hardboard starts to decompose … make a new one. So for a 16x6 aluminum pallet a 30x 24 hardboard table protector.

My SMW clone will slots to hold it to the sub surface. That should give it enough play to tram the plate in.

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Plywood hmm… My table is 2 ULINE packing tables back to back. Top is 1.5" thick dense particle board and MDF sandwich. Frame is all metal and the 2 tables are bolted together and pretty rigid. Total weight of the tables alone is about 360lbs. To this I’ve added an additional 360lbs of concrete pavers, 3 sheets of MDF clad around the outside and as a shelf underneath and about 14 2x4s making up partial shelf support plus mechanisms on either side to easily lift the whole thing off the ground about an inch so it rolls on cast-iron casters. I’m sure it weighs over 800lbs without the Foreman included.

The Foreman sits on a QCW so that only 4 feet are touching the table top - the feet line up very well with the legs of the table - the table is flat, but if it weren’t that wouldn’t matter. The QCW is filled with MDF panels and a wasteboard will sit on top of that and easily removable/replaceable.

If I were going to mill a lot of metal, I’d use aluminum extrusions or solid 5/8 or 3/4 plate instead of MDF bolted to the wasteboard. Or do the same thing on a dedicated smaller machine like the Woodworker.

I don’t have any vertical milling support as I can’t see that as being cost effective - dedicating a 4x4 milling area to machining a panel edge? The numbers don’t make sense for me there.

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