In this post I share my favourite design for homemade clamps. They can be made really large or really small to suit your needs.
Further down we also include a short video segment from our latest series where I explain further how the clamps work.
I’ve just been sitting staring into the bottom of an empty tea pot.
And I got thinking. I can’t remember the last time I bought something. I don’t mean a bill or owt like that, just something that I really wanted. It might have been some surplus boots, they were 20 quid I think.
This isn’t because I don’t appreciate value or I’m tight. To be honest it’s more the opposite. I can really value handmade items and the costs of them. And if there’s something I really would like or need then I’m happy to spend. I’m normally a ‘buy well, buy right, and do it once’ type of man.
The thing is, I just don’t seem to get a kick out of having lots of stuff.
Or it could be that ‘old man’ is setting in with me a tad early.
Anyway, I filled the teapot back up so that’s that problem solved.
That’s all to say that when it comes to getting a quick kick out of buying something new, one thing that will never even make it to the list, is a clamp.
They’re quite expensive and normally you need a lot of them.
I bet I could set someone up with a complete starter set of good hand tools for the cost of a full set of clamps.
And I guarantee even with the clamps, the next job you start you’d not have one that was long enough. In fact, you could build a whole bloody workbench with a pricey wooden vice screw for the cost of a set of clamps.
But it’s not really about the price. It’s more that they’re just dull.
And that’s why I have the most shoddy set of clamps that you’re likely to find in any professional workshop.
I wanted to show you one of many of my work arounds for not having nice clamps.
These are a really great clamp design that you can make yourself whenever you need them.
I’ve found that they work so well that I’ve never really craved or needed ‘proper’ clamps.
This simple clamp is just a bit of stick with a block screwed to each end.
The following video is a short segment taken from our Nest of Tables build.
I explain a little more about my ‘homemade’ clamps in here, along with why they were so useful for the glue up of this small table which was delicate and awkward due to how important it was to keep everything parallel and square:
To make the clamps I leave the space between blocks around an inch wider than whatever’s being clamped.
And then a rough cut wedge acts to provide the clamping force.
The wedge doesn’t have to be accurate as the block can pivot on a single screw.
Depending on what you’re clamping, you can use hand force on the wedge or knock it really tight with a hammer if you need a bit more welly.
You can knock them up as stout or as lightweight as needed, and I usually keep hold of the battens afterwards so I do always have plenty of clamps to hand.
A gash bit of stick is the most useful thing in any workshop!
These clamps could even be made nice.
Wax up a load of battens to stop any glue sticking, and have a load of pre-drilled holes along their length. Then just bolt the blocks in place as needed. Fill a box with a few dozen wedges and you’re sorted.
Of course I know many people that have built very nice working clamps, but for me at that stage I’d rather just buy some.
Now none of this is to say you don’t need to buy any clamps. I love having a few quick grips kicking about the workbench. But when it comes to not having enough or having the right size then these are a fast get out of jail.
And after a long run our Nest of Tables build is now complete!
At over 8 hours in total the full series offers plenty more tips and tricks as we tackle the pretty unique challenges of this really precise build.
You can have a watch of the series trailer and find full details HERE.