Techniques for Using a Clamp


Knowing how and when to use specific clamps system or which clamp-size will allow you to handle any basic projects. Know what to do in more advances situations, it often takes some knowledge plus a little creativity.


Shop-Tested Clamping Tips

If you're tired of taking the time to thread a knob onto a long piece of threaded rod, grab your portable electric drill and chuck a drum sander (without the sanding sleeve) into its jaws. Then, turn on the drill with the chuck spinning in reverse (counterclockwise) and gently touch the rubber drum to the knob. The knob will race along the threaded rod much faster than you could spin it by hand.


A press for gluing stacked bowl blanks

Until recently, I used my drill press to clamp layers of wood together for vases or bowl blanks. Problem is, the drill press isn’t really designed for this task, and I actually bent the rack gear on a large drill press doing it. After that, I decided there had to be a better—and less expensive—way.


Raise your clamps to be sure

When gluing up panels, I like to remove the glue squeeze-out before it sets. But pipe clamps laid flat on my assembly bench left me no room to clean the underside of the joints. So I found a way to take my panel-making to a higher level. I made a pair of clamp-holding supports that raise the panels nearly a foot above the bench. Each upright can be positioned individually along the horizontal rails to accommodate different-size panels by simply removing the wing nut and carriage bolt.


Pipe-Clamp Support U-Blocks

You can hold pipe clamps securely during panel glue-ups with these dog-like U-blocks. To make a matching pair, first cut a 1 1/2"-thick piece to 3x3" as shown in the Cutting/Drilling Diagram, top drawing. Then, drill the centered dowel holes on opposite edges. Drill either a 3/4" or 1" hole through the center of the face of the block. Cut the blocks in half where shown, and then cut and glue in dowels sized to fit the dog-holes in your bench top, bottom drawing. During use, place a pair of U-blocks under each pipe, as shown.


Long-reach clamp extensions

Clamping jobs require clamping pressure farther in from the edge than sliding-head clamps provide. These hardworking extensions solve the problem. Simply cut a pair of the extensions to shape from 1-1/2"-square stock (we laminated two pieces of 3/4" maple), using our full-size pattern. Pop the bar pin out of the end of your clamp's bar. Then, drill and cut a slot in each extension so it slides smoothly, but fits snugly on the bar.


Pipe- and bar-clamp blocks

These easy-to-make shop aids really simplify edge-gluing boards. The clamp blocks spread each clamp’s pressure over a wider area, and feature hardboard “outriggers” that keep the blocks in place while you position the clamps. They also prevent the clamp’s pipe or bar from touching the panel’s surface and creating a glue stain on your project.


Clamping cauls: The Secret to Great Glue-ups

Woodworkers spend a lot of time cutting accurate joinery. Yet even the most accurately cut joint won’t be perfect if you glue it together incorrectly. Not only must you put the right amount of glue in the right places, but you also need to do the same with the clamping pressure. Some joints, such as dovetails, need pressure only in isolated spots, while others, such as thin edge-banding, need even pressure over the whole area. The answer is not fancier clamps or specialized jigs; it is shop-made clamping cauls. Quick to make and easy to use, cauls not only pull a joint tight and keep it at the correct angle, but they also protect the workpiece from direct contact with the clamp jaws.



Techniques for Using Clamps



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