Lee Valley UHMW strips - Router Forums
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-30-2012, 04:25 AM Thread Starter
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Default Lee Valley UHMW strips

Been wanting to try these out for months, so I decided to buy some strips from Lee Valley since they were having a free shipping special.
I purchased (4) 3/4"x3/8"x24" with the idea that they were gonna fit perfectly into a 3/4" standard miter slot...
I was a little dissapointed yesterday when I opened the package and noticed all the pieces were rough sawn so badly that 3 of the 4 sides had really deep saw marks on them.
I tried to place a strip into my Rocker router table miter slot and noticed I had to apply some pressure to get it into the slot. It was such a tight fight that it did not slide within the slot.
Now here's my newbie thinking....if I try to sand/shape the strips to fit within the slots properly will the sawcuts all but dissapear or will I still have the scaring created by the saw cuts?
Or, in order to get the sides smooth will I make the strip too narrow which will create slop in the miter slot?
Its a very expensive product and i would of expected a factory style finish on all sides.
I've used wood for mitre slot runners and I'm not that impressed. I live in Phoenix and one day were having high humidity monsoons and the next super dry weather...so, wood is not an option unless I'm convinced otherwise. I used oak for runners on a TS sled and a few days after the build I started to get play on the slots...btw, the oak had been sitting in my garage for 7 yrs...so its totally dried.
Any suggestions on whether I should complain to Lee Valley or is this common of UHMW strips?
I also purchased a 3/4"x4"x24" strip that I haven't received yet.
What is the preference here? Wood, UHMW or the adjustable metal?
Btw...the sled is sitting on a worthless SKIL TS, so maybe that's part of the problem. I'm hoping to have my hands on a RIDGID TS3650 within a week and wanting to build the "super sled".

Thanks
Dask
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-30-2012, 04:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dask View Post
Now here's my newbie thinking....if I try to sand/shape the strips to fit within the slots properly will the sawcuts all but dissapear or will I still have the scaring created by the saw cuts?
Hi Dask

Good luck trying to sand or file UHMW. It really doesn't sand or file at all well IMHO, although it can be planed with an electric planer providing you screw it down to the bench first and take very shallow passes. I think that part of the reason for the roughness is that UHMW plastic is difficult to machine to anything approaching a high quality finish. But then again for most of the tasks it's being used in (i.e. bearing surfaces) it doesn't need to be.

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Originally Posted by dask View Post
I've used wood for mitre slot runners and I'm not that impressed. I live in Phoenix and one day were having high humidity monsoons and the next super dry weather...so, wood is not an option unless I'm convinced otherwise.
Well UHMW might not impress you, either. It expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity, although not as noticeably as timber.

I used to CNC and pin rout loads of the stuff a few years back and the sheets arriving (3m x 1.5m x 25mm) often came in with swirls across the flat surfaces like you get on cast iron from a Blanchard-grinder. When we'd finished machining it it was much better, but it required two passes to get a good finish, the first at high feed speed (relatively low spindle speed) about 0.5mm bigger than the final cut and a second pass dead to size but with a slightly slower feed rate - that was for the 500 and 1000 grade UHMW-PE - the graphite impregnated varieties required a whole different approach

Regards

Phil

Last edited by Phil P; 03-30-2012 at 04:56 AM.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-30-2012, 08:44 AM
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I got some strips from LV maybe 10 yrs ago and they weren't that rough. They don't have to be smooth, they just have to fit the slot. I still prefer hardwood strips most of the time. You can leave hardword strips sticking out both ends of a jig unsupported but you can't do that with with UHMW.

Someone I consider a master woodworker once told me that a master woodworker is not someone who never makes mistakes. He is someone who is able to cover them up so that no one can tell.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-30-2012, 10:39 AM
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IMHO I would send them back to Lee Valley. I bought some, I think last year, from Woodcraft and used it for TS sled runners and did not have this problem. I did have to take a hair off to fit in TS slot, use a block plane.

Bob
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-30-2012, 01:20 PM
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I use it all the time in my shop for jigs and fixtures. I buy mine from Woodcraft and all of it from 1/4 to 3/4 has been as slick as glass on all 4 sides. Woodcraft also sells it in a bag with various sizes and shapes. Like has been said it is next to impossible to sand or file but it saw cuts, drills and routes just fine. My router table fence is fronted with it and I even used it to replace two small plastic parts on my Mercedes sun visors that sell for $50.00 the pair.

I don't understand what you are trying to accomplish but as a suggestion you might try ABS plastic to do what you are after or better yet buy the steel miter slot runners, much cheaper than UHMW and also retains its shape.

When something is advertised as being foolproof there is always a better class of fool that comes along to prove them wrong.
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