|Make-it-yourself rope band clamp
A length of braided rope with the ends tied together makes a great Bandclamp. Just insert a piece of scrap stock through the loop at one end and twist to tighten. When you get it where you want it, affix the scrap piece of stock in position with a twist-tie or piece of duct tape.
|Clamping sheets of veneer to slightly irregular surfaces
If you're repairing an antique or other piece of furniture and have had difficulty getting the veneer to adhere completely to an irregular substrate surface, try this trick.
To even-out the clamping pressure, lay a piece of rigid foam insulation (or Styrofoam) over the top of your veneer. Then, place wooden cauls (small blocks of wood for protection) between your clamp jaws and the foam and tighten.
The foam will distort to conform to the profile of the project's surface, delivering even clamping pressure.
|Filament tape makes an excellent "Band Clamp"
The next time you need a web or Band Clamp for glue-up or assembly work but don't have one available, try using a filament-style or nylon strapping tape. Their filaments make them very strong and virtually break-proof and they usually offer a sticky surface that won't easily come un-done.
|Emergency C-Clamp from a pipe wrench
The next time you're just one clamp short on a particular job, try using an ordinary pipe wrench or monkey wrench for the job.
Be sure to place protective pads between rough jaws and your workpieces to protect them from marring.
|Keeping your pipe clamps from staining wood surfaces
Slip a couple of "doughnuts" made from foam pipe insulation over the pipes before assembling the clamps. These "doughnuts" will hold the pipes off the surfaces of your workpieces during glue-ups.
|Keep your clamp heads/feet from damaging your workpieces
Most metal and pipe-type clamps have rough-surfaced heads or feet that will damage workpieces as pressure is applied. To prevent this, attach small, wooden "cauls" (or protective blocks) to the clamp faces with double-stick carpet tape. 1/4" hardboard or plywood is best.
With steel or iron-faced clamps, another option is to make your cauls a bit thicker and counterbore them to accept small, round, ceramic magnets, glued in position. Make sure the magnets are strong enough to hold your cauls in position during clamping and that the surface of the magnets are flush with the surface of the cauls.
|Getting a grip on dowel rod with your bench vise.
When you need a rock-solid grip on dowels for certain operations, try clamping a couple of ordinary clothespins over the dowel. Then, just drop the dowel(with clothespins attached, of course) into the vise jaws and tighten.
|Fast-acting, tight-quarters C-Clamps for production applications
Sometimes (as in the case of gluing-up bent laminations or edge banding), it's necessary to use a large quantity of C-Clamps. This creates two problems. First, the T-Bars often run into one another during tightening. And second, even if they don't, tightening 10 to 20 C-Clamps can be a time-consuming proposition.
To resolve this problem, replace the sliding T-Bars with standard-sized nuts, welded onto the ends of the clamp screws. You'll eliminate their interference with one another...plus...you'll be able to tighten them quickly by using a nut driver bit in your power drill.
|Sometimes, certain types of project components just can't be assembled conveniently with conventional clamping methods.
The next time that happens to you and you think ... "maybe if I just SAT on it overnight", ... this is the tool you need.
The clamping box is made by building a simple plywood or particleboard box with a heavy-duty metal carrying handle screwed to the top. Screw or glue all but one of the sides together. Fill your box with 20# to 30# of sand, window sash-weights, bricks, stone, etc., then attach the final remaining side with screws.
|Gripping tapered or odd-shaped objects with your woodworking vise
The straight (usually smooth) jaws of a woodworker's vise make grasping odd-shaped objects difficult, at best. A half-round jaw allows the stock to pivot a bit, solving this problem.
Start by cutting a 6" to 8" long piece of heavy wall, 2" to 3" diameter PVC or cast iron pipe in half, lengthwise. Then, tighten your vise with the pipe sideways, between your tapered workpiece and the front jaw of your vise. Be sure the round (or closed) end of your pipe is against your workpiece...and the open (or cut) end of the pipe is against your vise jaw.
If the edges of the pipe allow your stock to slip, slide a doubled over piece of sandpaper or double-stick tape between the pipe and your workpiece prior to tightening.
|Keeping handscrew jaws free of glue.
Wrap the jaws of your handscrew with plastic cellophane kitchen wrap prior to use
|Heavy-duty, make-it-yourself laminate clamp.
If your shop is in a basement, you can use an ordinary scissors-type auto jack to clamp veneers or stacked pieces for turning. Just place your stack of pieces to be glued on the floor and wedge a piece of scrap 2" x 4" or similar stock between the stack and one of your overhead floor joists. Tighten the jack to exert the appropriate amount of pressure.
|Protective jaws for metalworking vises
Cut strips of padded, magnetic-backed material like that used for making self-adhering signs for the sides of trucks or cars. Just stop by any local sign shop and ask them for a few small pieces of scrap material.
|Making super-long pipe clamps
Cut wide slots in the ends of 2'-long sections of pipe of the proper diameter for your clamp ends. Insert a piece of heavy chain into the slots in these two pipe ends and pin them into position by running a bolt through the pipe and the chain links. The chain can be any length you need.
These extended pipe/chain clamps are a lot easier to handle than long, rigid pieces of heavy pipe -- and a lot more convenient to store away,too.
|Pliers or clamp? BOTH !
The next time you need a clamp to hold small parts together, try using an ordinary pair of pliers (regular, needle-nosed or channel-lock style) with a heavy rubber band or piece of bicycle innertube wrapped around the handles to pull the jaws together.
|Giant, Make-It-Yourself "Clothespin" Clamps
Picture how a wooden clothespin is made. Two pieces of wood with semi-circular cutouts that pivot on the "barrel" of a spring. Now, imagine how you could duplicate this design to make some handy clamps. For example, start with a piece of hardwood stock, 3/4" thick by 2" wide x 12" long. Lay your stock on the benchtop and drill a 1/2" hole through the 3/4" thickness, centered, 1" in from each side and about 4" from one end.
Next, rip your 2" wide piece in half from end-to-end, cutting through the center of your 1/2" hole. This will leave a semi-circular notch in each of your two jaw pieces.
Cut a piece of 3/4" diameter dowel rod to a length of 3/4". Position your dowel rod in the semi-circular notches between the two jaw pieces to create a fulcrum point. Wrap a large rubber band around the short, clamping ends to apply pressure. Simple.
|Handy, heavyweight clamping aid
Keep a 25# bag of lead shot around the shop for applying pressure to the surfaces of projects during glue-up. This technique works especially well when you're clamping certain types of odd-shaped components together. Shot is readily available in gun shops and sporting goods stores.
|Make-It-Yourself "Emergency" Spring Clamps
The next time you find yourself needing some lightweight spring clamps for holding thin workpieces together, try this trick. Saw some 1" to 2" long rings from a piece of heavy-gauge PVC pipe. Then, saw a kerf through the rings, allowing them to be spread apart for clamping your stock together.
|Outboard support for long work pieces.
Occasionally, it's necessary to clamp a long piece of stock in a bench vice to work on it... where one might be projecting way out into the air, unsupported. To provide the support you need, attach a notched, adjustable shelf support (the kind that uses the long, full-width shelf supports) to the front of the leg on the opposite end of your bench. When you need extra support, insert a shelf support in the proper set of notches and there you have it.
|Improving the grip of wooden vise jaws
Grasping dowels, threaded rods, pipe and similar round objects in the jaws of a vise without slipping or damaging the object you're holding can be tough. And, if the only vise you own is a woodworker's vise, its smooth jaws make the job even tougher. This problem can be solved by first inserting the object to be gripped into a piece of rubber or plastic hose before grasping it in your vise. You can use garden hose, surgical hose, automotive radiator hose, etc. Just match the hose size to the object. You'll get a great grip, won't damage the threads of your threaded rod and won't mar the jaws of your wooden vise.
|Make-it-yourself, non-slip bench dogs
You can make your own bench dogs from pieces 3/4" to 1" diameter wood dowel. Just cut the dowels to the length you need and slip a 3/4" long piece of thick-wall, clear plastic hose or tubing over the ends. The tubing will keep your dowel from dropping all the way through the dog holes in your benchtop and provide a non-slip grip on your workpiece, as well.
|Protective clamp jaws
Often, the jaws of metal clamps (such as pipe clamps) can become marred, which, in turn, will damage workpiece surfaces when you apply the pressure. You can avoid this by making wooden jaw faces, with adhesive-backed magnetic tape on their back sides. Then, when you clamp a project, simply position the magnets over the jaws of your clamps and go to work.
|Sandbag veneer press
When you need to apply thin veneer to a project surface, you can often hold it in position while your glue sets up by placing pillowcases filled with (dry) sand on top of the veneer.
|Small "S" hooks make rubber band clamps fit the job at hand
Sometimes, it's difficult to find rubber bands of the right length to fit the clamping job at hand. Often, you can make do with the rubber bands you have on hand by wrapping their two looped ends all the way around your project and connecting them together with small "S" hooks.
|Rubber inner-tubes make great clamps for odd-shaped projects
Bicycle, motorcycle or automotive inner-tubes are a great source for rubber clamping strips. Just cut the tubes into 1" to 2" wide strips, wrap them around your project and tie or use miniature handscrews or clamp-style pliers to clamp off the ends until your glue dries. You can vary the amount of pressure by increasing the number of wraps around your project...or by using heavier gauge inner-tubes, such as those used with truck tires.
|Overhead clamp storage from PVC, copper or cast iron pipe
A nifty rack for storing handscrews and other clamps can be made by creating an inverted "T" from ordinary plumbing pipe. Just attach its single end to the rafters in your garage or basement shop, with the double "T" end hanging down. Slip your clamps over the "T" for quick, easy access.
|Extra Long Rubber Band Clamps
When you need an extra long piece of rubber for clamping a large project, try cutting a continuous spiral from a used innertube. First, cut across the tube on both sides of the valve stem to remove it. Then, use a pair of scissors (or tin snips) to cut around the circumference of the tube in a continuous spiral. You'll be surprised how many feet of rubber you can get from a single innertube!
|Inexpensive, light-duty clamps for smaller projects
Try using spring-type clothespins, office binder clips, medical hemostats or bobby-pins.
|Conforming clamp pads
Sometimes, it's necessary to clamp odd-shaped pieces that are difficult to grasp with straight-sided clamp jaws. In these instances, try using a piece of 1" or 2" thick styrofoam as a "caul" between your odd-shaped project components and the jaws of your clamps. It really works!