"Notching" Versaframe Tubing for Easier Removal of VersaBlock

Hi there! Our team is currently using vex parts extensively. Its only our 2nd year using the system so are still struggling for how to machine the aluminum parts for maintainability and reliability. Last year we had an intake roller system that used a 1/2in hex shaft with clamping bearing blocks. But we didn’t provide an easy way to remove the shaft to service it. When the shaft has many parts on it, flex wheels, clamping shaft collars, etc, it takes too much time to remove the shaft to service it. We had many occasions of using a rubber mallet to pound the shaft onto and off of the aluminum tube.

This year we are considering “notching” the versaframe in order to slide the entire versablock & shaft assembly to be taken off of the end of a 1in x 2in tube. Illustrated in the below picture, using 3/4in width to provide the 1/2in hex plenty of distance away from the tube to prevent grinding.

Does anyone recommend or not recommend doing this? If you recommend, which power tools would you recommend? We have a drill press and band saw. We tried using a 3/4in hole saw to create the initial hole and then a reciprocating saw to cut from the edge to the hole. But the cuts came out very rough and jagged. It was hard to see line while using the saw. In addition, we have this style of metal cutting style saw which makes this cut difficult because its designed for cuts perpendicular to the tube.

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Tool-wise, the best way to do it would be to use a mill. In your case, you might be able to get a small XY table to use the drill press as a mill, or you could just use a jig saw, hole saw and patience.

BAD IDEA. Drill presses aren’t set up for the side loads of milling. You’d have to go very slowly and carefully and there’s a non-zero chance that something gets damaged.

If I was going to do this–well, first I’d see if there was a way to not need to service the shaft. But, if I had to do that notch…
Drill press the hole with either a holesaw or a large drill bit. Check the speed chart of the drill press and set to the right speed. Move to your VERTICAL bandsaw (the link in OP is a horizontal bandsaw) and cut from edge to hole. Finish with a file or power sander. Second option bandsaw. Third option would actually be a Dremel circular saw (hand-held size), or a dremel with soft-metal cutting bit.

Actually, come to think of it… Do you have access to a hand-held router with a metal bit?


I didn’t say it was a good idea, but for a few slots you could make it work. I’ve never had success with a hand held router on metal. To be honest, it doesn’t seem like you need much precision at all if you’re just looking for the shaft to clear the slot.

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