Airfield Models - How To

Make Vertical Presses for Magnet Fixtures

May 05, 2015

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Airfield Models ( Press Attachments

The fixtures I use with my magnetic building system are mainly used to align the structure and ensure it is square.  However, it is sometimes useful to have a vertical press.  These simple additions to the fixture make them more functional.

Note: The presses shown here do not match the measurements of the drawings.  I made these so they would be consistent with fixtures I already have.  The drawings are an improved version.

Instead of tapping the presses, you may want to purchase T-nuts that can be inserted in the underside of the presses.  The choice is yours.

The vertical presses should be made from good quality hardwood. Make the vertical presses from a good quality hardwood that will last.  I cut these from good quality 1/4" hardwood using my Microlux table saw.
Drill the holes for the mounting bolts. A 2-56 x 1" socket head bolt is used to clamp the press to the fixture.  Drill a 3/32" hole to pass the bolts as indicated on the drawings.
A fixture to make consistent cut-outs in the presses. There are several ways to make the cut-outs in the presses.  I use a simple fixture so I can slide the blanks through the table saw.

The fixture takes about 20 minutes to make.  It will speed things up considerably as well as ensure consistency and accuracy.

If you do not have a table saw, then a scroll saw or razor saw and hobby knife will get the job done.

The fixture uses the compound slide to push it through the table saw. A triangle is glued to the back side of the fixture to hold it square to the table.  The fixture is held tightly against the miter gauge and the fence when moving the part through the saw.
A vertical press blank clamped in the sawing fixture. Each blank is placed in the fixture and pushed down so it is flat on the table.  It is then clamped in place.  After making the first cut, flip the blank around and make the second cut.  The vertical press should be a slip fit on the magnetic fixture.

Remember that each adjustment is multiplied by two because the blank gets flipped around.  Therefore, if the slot is 1/16" too narrow, then the fence only needs to be moved 1/32".

The Accurizer II fence sold by Micro-Mark (Micro-Mark catalog# 80467) makes it simple to zero it in.

The blanks having the cut-outs and ready for the next step.

It appears that I have way more of these things than I will ever use unless I start my own factory.  I already had a handful of them and made these simply for this how-to.

Mark the center of the thumbscrew location in the presses. Mark the location for the thumbscrew.  Use a compass or circle template to mark the outline unless you just want to sand it to shape by eye.  The outline is not critical.
Drill the presses for the thumb screw presses. Use the correct drill for the tap that will be used for the thumbscrews.  The thumbscrews I use have a 10-24 thread which require a number 25 bit.
A fixture made to radius the front of the vertical press. Another simple fixture that speeds things up.  Drill a number 25 hole in a scrap of plywood and glue a dowel in the hole.  Chuck a 3/16" dowel in your drill and use a sanding block to bring it down to size.

The fixture is temporarily glued to the table of my disk sander using CA.  Because I always wax my tables, the fixture pops off easily by sliding a single edge razor blade under it.

A fixture and a disk sander ensure consistency and speeds things up. Each press is placed over the dowel and sanded to shape.
All the fixtures are cut to shape with all holes and cut-outs. Almost complete.
Tap for the thumb screws. Tap the presses for the thumbscrews.  Use fine sandpaper to knock off the edges and smooth all the faces in preparation for the finish.

I use three coats of satin brushing lacquer.  The final coat is rubbed out with fine steel wool.

A clamp block to prevent damage from the thumbscrew.

You will want to use some type of clamp block with these presses so that the thumbscrews do not mar your work.  I use scraps of the same hardwood to make blocks approximately 3/16" x 1/2" x 1".  They have a 1/4" hole counter-bored to half the depth.



Make magnetic variable angle fixtures
Mark McCormack's Converted Magnetic Fixtures

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