Vertical Workholding

I’ve been working on building a 5x10 machine recently. I have a 4x8 main table and on the end I’m doing a vertical work holding setup.

Just like with spoilboards, workholding is always going to be different depending on what your preferences are. Here are some examples that I have found, hopefully these are useful to others:

Here’s the Avid CNC official setup instructions for vertical workholding:

This is the well known “Jay Bates” setup:

Frank Howarth’s table is amazing:

Woodbrew has a really solid setup on their machine as well:

@MarkLindsayCNC is working on a great setup as well:

I’m sure there are a ton more examples out there. What have you found? If you have your own setup, share it here!

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I use a small Saunders Machine Works fixture plate with a 3d printed adapter it connects into horizontal fixture grid I machined out of HDPEwith 1/4-20 threaded inserts. I print 3d soft jaws to hold parts in specific orientations to machine the end grain of different parts. I set work offsets from the aluminum plate.

That is a very cool use case! PS I love your furniture!

Thanks Eric! I call this setup the poor man’s manual 5axis. I thought I would check out the forum. Excited to see what people are up to.

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Glad you’re here! You are actually one of the first. The forum is just getting started!

I’ve seen all of Frank’s videos. My wife finds his awkward laughter amusing.
I figured when my time came to do a vertical mount job, I’d build a jig for it at whatever angle I need. I don’t fathom that I’ll be doing a LOT of it, so I don’t see a need to build something as exquisite as Frank’s table.

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I built this one for mine. I wanted a smaller one that didn’t take up the whole front of the machine and wanted to be able to set angles. Simple, but works well.


That’s similar to this one I made. What are those clamps you have in yours @Fcfnc ?

I’m using the matchfit dovetail clamps.

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A dove tail track… that’s a great idea. Cheap and it’s not something that you would potentially hit with a router bit.

Here’s what I do:

My whole CNC is vertical, so, for me I use a bottom rail or temporary rail which is cut square, and then small blocks that hold mitee bites.


Well… pack it in folks. This thread has peaked!

Seriously that is a cool setup.

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Thanks! Happy to discuss more, but I basically made the machine for the space savings. Only 27” off the wall except for the gantry.

Have you run into any issues dealing with… gravity?

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So, it helps and hurts.


  1. Easier to load sheets on edge.
  2. Chip clearing and dust collection is WAY better.
  3. It can be up against a wall and you can still reach the fixtures and clamps everywhere
  4. Easier to see what is going on
  5. It saves a lot of space. This is a 5x9’ work envelope with 12” z (minus spoilboard). It only takes up 27” of floor space when off.


  1. X and Y axis are different motion systems - gantry (Y) for me is ballscrew. X is the CNCRP rack and pinion
  2. Cutting parts totally free is not an option, gotta think about toolpaths a bit to ensure nothing “drops”.
  3. Things like slab flattening, which don’t necessarily need any fixturing at all on a flat machine need a lot of thought due to irregular edges.
  4. The gantry and z axis now have a “swing” that needs to be managed. When it is running, you need to be outside the movement zone. I’ve added several extra E stop buttons to accommodate safety.
  5. My machine/operator console is in the wrong place. I’m not sure what the right place would be in my shop, but for now, a wireless keyboard is very helpful.

Also, this machine is an ATC machine, (not fully set up yet) so my workflow involves a touch probe and preset tools.

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I have a PRO4848 with a rotary axis inset at the front.

@jjneeb, did I see correctly in your articulated computer arm video that you have vertical workholding set up through the rotary axis frame? Can I see more of your setup?

Yes, mine is the type that AVID now sells the vertical workholding kit for. You can see it in use in this video. Making through dovetails on my AVID CNC router, designed with JointCAM Software - YouTube
This video also gives you a look at the vertical spoilboard when its retracted, as well as how the rotary is mounted and shimmed so it can be installed/removed quickly w/o recalibrating every time: Rotary Axis AVID CNC Project (curtain rod finials) from start to finish - YouTube

Also, I have my vcarve spoilboard file in my shared drive in case anyone is interested: Public CNC Docs - Google Drive

I used 1" MDF, but if I make another one, I’ll probably go with two laminated 3/4" sheets just so the dog holes are a little deeper. I put the dog holes at 3" spacing because most of the horizontal dog hole clamps have a little overy 3" of travel, so you can always get a clamp to reach the workpiece.

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Thats thinking out of the box, I like it.