Managing Clamps and Fixtures

You will end up with a number of clamps and fixtures in your wood shop, having the right ones available includes managing them correctly, and creatively using clamps and fixture in situations in which you did not originally plan to uses them.

The Heavy Weight Champ of Pipe-Clamp Racks

Sturdy steel rods won't bend or break By building this pipe-clamp rack (it takes no time at all), you can store dozens of clamps in a small space. You'll need some 2x4 stock, 1/2" steel rod, 3 1/2" lag screws, and washers. Drill 1/2" holes at 5 degrees upward angle through the 2x4 where shown. Then, attach the 2x4 to your wall with the lag screws. Cut your steel rod and chamfer the ends (for safety) with a file or bench grinder. Drive the rods into the holes in the 2x4, and hang your clamps.

Flip-Up Pipe-Clamp Supports

Frustrated with pipe-clamp holders tipping over as he worked, Paul Amberg came up with some ingenious flip-up supports for his workbench. A short piece of dowel slips into holes to keep the hinged holders in the up and down positions. For a 6'-long bench, cut out the pipe supports and stabilizers to the dimensions shown in the illustration; for a bench of a different size, adjust the dimensions to match what works best for you.

Edge-Gluing Fixture

To help clamping go smoothly when edge-joining boards, we devised an edge-gluing fixture (show below) that directs clamping pressure to the center of the workpieces.  You'll need two of these handy fixtures, one for each clamp-bearing edge. As an additional advantage, this fixture elevates the clamps off the panel surface, making it easier to clean up glue squeeze-out. We also made some 3" lengths of the fixture to align the individual boards. You'll need two of these for each joint.

Easy-to-handle Clamp Blocks

Sure, you could fiddle with odd scraps for clamp blocks, but this quick-and-easy clamp block jig will make glue-ups go more smoothly. Screwing hardboard tabs onto U-shaped clamp blocks, as shown at right, helps you hold the blocks in place while arranging clamps for a glue-up.  The tabs also provide a resting place for the clamp bars to keep them off the glue-up, while the blocks without the tabs distribute clamping pressure across a wider area than the opposing clamp jaws alone.

Inner Tubes Make Handy Clamps for Special Glue-Ups

Do you have some old bicycle inner tubes hanging around? If so, here's a unique way to get more mileage out of them.  When gluing together long multiple sided assemblies, such as the Mission bed legs, first slice the tube into one long length. Then slice this into two long strips. Remove the valve stem. Clamp a tube at one end, wrap it around the assembly, and clamp it again at the other end, as shown at right.

Make a Stay-Put Clamp Pad

To avoid marring your finely sanded stock, each clamp surface needs a clamp pad (about $5 a pair in catalogs). Hardwood clamp blocks make an adequate substitute, but you may have trouble juggling them during the glue-up process.

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