Guide to Clamps

Guide to Clamps

Using Wood Clamps

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Clamps are essential to many types of woodworking, using the right one will allow you to correctly complete your projects. Many have generalized uses, some are specialized, you need to know what your options are to have the proper ones on hand.

Bar clamp extensions

Too many times I've reached for a one-handed bar clamp/spreader only to find that it's too short to do the job at hand. To solve the problem, I created a hardwood "splice," as shown, to connect the clamps end-to-end. (You have to use the reversible spreader-type clamp so you can remove the "fixed" jaw.)

Band Clamp Strap Holders

I got tired of finding my band clamps all balled up in a drawer, so I devised these ultra-simple holders to keep them in order. To store my clamps, I wrap the loose end of the strap around the 3/4" dowel "core," and then secure it with the rubber band and small dowel. When I need to use the clamps, I just unroll as much as I need. If you ever use those ratcheting tie-down straps for your truck or trailer, you can use the same method, but you may need to lengthen the "core" dowel to suit wider straps.

Angle-Iron Clamp Rack

This mobile clamp rack is made almost entirely of 1 1/2" angle iron, except for the upper clamp guide, which is 1" angle iron (to allow clearance space for the clamps' bars). Clamps are secured by 1 3/4" chain links cut in half and then welded to the angle irons on 1 3/4" centers to serve as clamp guides.

Frame-Style Clamp Hanger

It may not be apparent at first glance, but this simply constructed wall-mounted unit can store an assortment of 90 clamps. Made from inexpensive pine, it offers shelves and dowels for organizing anything from pipe clamps to one-hand bar clamps to spring clamps. To build it, just follow the drawing dimensions right when cutting the pieces; then, assemble the unit with glue and screws.

Take it easy with Clamping Pressure

Good-fitting joint with the right amount of glue doesn't require tremendous pressure. The clamps just serve to hold the surfaces in contact while the glue dries. When we tested one-handed bar clamps , we found that they provided pressure just into the softwood range or a bit less. Squeeze those clamps as hard as you can. But R. Bruce Hoadley, author of the book Understanding Wood, reports that other kinds of clamps, including the bottom three pictured at right, can produce far more pressure than needed. So don't go beyond "snug" when tightening those clamps.