What’s that? You didn’t think IKEA sold track link assembly tools? Well, you’re right, of course – they don’t. They do, however, sell an item I was able to adapt into such a tool.
I’d been on the hunt for something to help with the tedious task of assembling scale AFV tracks. I’d seen a few ideas, but they lacked important features, were out of production, or they cost more than I was willing to pay (which to be honest wasn’t much).
During a recent trip to our local IKEA I noticed a big display of their LEGITIM chopping boards. I sensed these could somehow serve a use in building models, then it struck me: I could cut one up, and use it as the basis for a kick-ass track jig!
The LEGITIM is made of polyethylene, a high molecular weight plastic. What that means is it’s durable, easy to machine, and immune to pretty much any chemicals a modeller might expose it to. For a mere three dollars, I was willing to give my little idea a try.
⇪ The essential components: IKEA’s 8mm thick LEGITIM chopping board, a star-shaped knob, a short 1/4″-20 bolt, and a four pronged T-nut. I also used a number of small screws to attach the nose portion of the jig. That’s the complete parts list. Total expense was a little over five bucks. Creating this jig was less about cost, and more about the effort taken up by the machining.
I used a mitre saw to cut the polyethylene. The adjustment slot and rounded-over nose edge were formed on a router table, and all the holes were bored with a drill press. These are each basic shop machines for a do-it-yourselfer. I would’ve preferred not to have the screw heads visible, but because polyethylene can’t be glued, I had little choice about that.
This particular jig can accommodate track sections up to twelve centimetres long, with individual links up to five centimetres wide. If someone felt they needed a longer or wider jig, simple changes to the design could easily permit that. The links shown in the photo above are from a Takom 1/35th scale Chieftain. Fairly large AFV tracks, to be sure, and my jig handles them effortlessly. I purposely left extra space in front of the adjustment knob as an area for sorting links.
An individual link track assembly tool is a handy item for any armour modeller, and I now have the satisfaction of owning one I built myself. Hopefully, other modellers will see this project and get inspired to try building their own.