Pinch Dogs – The Peasants’ Clamp

12

It’s often said that a woodworker can never have enough clamps but this isn’t something I‘ve really considered to be true (Unless you build workbenches for a living!) . When it comes to buying clamps I could think of a lot more exciting things to be spending my money on and once they arrive they’re certainly a pretty awkward and ugly thing to be having to store. Using clamps is never fun either, it seems your always battling with them to hold your piece in the exact position at the exact angle and all the while your painfully aware that there’s only moments left before your glue is going to set and the whole ordeal becomes pointless! Of course it’s not always that bad but no matter how smoothly it goes at the end your work has quadrupled in size so you’re left with no space and you’ve added that much weight even the smallest piece is now likely to pull your spleen out if you try to move it.

There are certainly times when clamps are necessary but if they can be avoided then that’s what’s I’ll do. A good example of working without any clamps is to drawbore your joinery since the joints pull themselves tight as you knock the pegs in and then hold themselves there – simple.

We don’t tend to hear of pinch dogs very much but for a long time these were all that I had available; just a handful of little pins which altogether could fit in to the corner of a small drawer.

pinch dogs, simple clamps
All you need to do is apply glue to your joint and rub it together a little so you know the glue has a hold, now tap one of these dogs in to each end and keep hammering until you get glue squeezing out. The tapered sides of the dog will pinch the boards together and hold them tight until the glue sets; what could be easier than that?

clamping boards with pinch dogs
I’ve used these for as long as I’ve made furniture and every time I end up with a tight and strong glue line. The key to success is ensuring that you have a perfect join. The beauty to using these is you can tap them in gently without the work slipping and use you fingers to feel when the boards are in plane. Pinch dogs are a very humble clamp that are generally used for gluing up panels and tops, they are one of those simple solutions that really do work.

12 Responses

  1. James Watriss

    So, do you just not bother with spring joints? This seems brilliant, and storage does sound much easier, for the clamp as well as the drying panel, just trying to understand the difference in use…

    Reply
    • Richard

      You’re spot on, spring joints and pinch dogs don’t go well together! I’ll occassionally use a spring joint if I’m using clamps but do find gluing up with pinch dogs to be incredibly strong. The rub joint itself is important – I simply rub the edges back and forth once the glue’s been applied and this creates suction so the boards hold together immediately. The pinch dogs then pull the ends together firmly and hold the boards to prevent any slipping. Compared with clamping there’s no risk of over tightening which could starve a joint of glue.

      Reply
      • James Watriss

        Thanks for answering… I’ll have to look into these. I just did a pile of spring jointed panels for a series of bookcases that are in the works, and finding a good way to stack up panels with clamps still on them remains a chore.

        Reply
  2. Ken

    Hi Richard,
    I do drawbore my joints, but I have never used pinch dogs. I will give them a try, thanks for another great tip.

    Ken 😉

    Reply
    • Richard

      Thanks Ken, They’re certainly not expensive and should be easy enough to find on the internet.

      Reply
    • James Watriss

      When I’m gluing up panels, I always have them slightly over-length, so I can cut the assembly to finish length and square afterwards. That would take care of the pinch dog holes.

      Reply
    • Richard

      I’ll usually cut my boards oversize to start like James so the holes are always removed, they’re only about ½” deep. If you don’t cut them off then they would easily be hidden with a bread board end or within a frame etc.

      Reply
  3. Mauricio

    I have the same question as James. It doesn’t seem that these would work with a sprung joint (slightly concave along the length) since the pressure is on the ends with non right in the middle of the board. I guess they would work just fine if the joint were slightly convex along the length.

    Reply
    • Richard

      Thanks Mauricio, spring joints are definitely out but slightly convex could offer some benefit though I’ve always avoided it as my feeling is it could cause weakness over time at the edges. I like to know I can just use hand pressure to check the joint, if I feel it needs more than this then I’ll tweak the joint until I’m happy. I’ll clamp both up together for the final passes with the jointer so they match up perfectly. Again the suction from the rub joint gives more than enough clamping action, the pinch dogs just reinforce that and stop any slippage.

      Reply
  4. Jason

    And to think I have been lugging around heavy clumsy pipe clamps all these years! Now all I need is a pocket full of metal clips? Take my money! Haha, these are definitely on my “Sooner rather than later list”

    Reply
  5. Henk ten Hoeve

    High everybody
    made mine after a blogpost of Paul Sellers from some scrap metal, glueded my first panels together and they work so easy….

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

SUBSCRIBE TO POSTS