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Thread: Alternative to lots of clamps?

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Alternative to lots of clamps?

    I'm building a workbench this summer, roughly in a Roubo style following Christopher Schwarz's "Workbenches" book. That involves laminating lots of Southern Yellow Pine into a massive slab for the top and big slabs for the legs. Chris recommends a clamp every six inches plus some across the edges to hold everything in place. I haven't got nearly that many clamps, or the money to buy decent ones. None of the local rental places rent anything appropriate.

    Are there any tricks for working without clamps?

    I could wrap a set of boards in layers of tightly stretched bicycle inner tubes. I might be able to work something out with frames made of 2x4s and wedges. Or maybe I could do something with rope.

    Any good ideas?
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  2. #2
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    Make a bunch of wedges, about 3 inches long from scrap. Clamp one piece of the glue-up to your assembly table. In dry fit mode, add the other pieces to be glued up. After the last piece to be glued up, put pairs of wedges together loosely every few inches. Clamp a solid straight board after the wedges. Use a small hammer to bring the wedges together and act as clamps on your glueup. When satisfied, take the wedges apart, apply glue and repeat the wedging process.

    The wedges should be the same thickness (or more) as your workpiece.

    Almost free....

  3. #3
    How about threaded rod? You could make clamps with it. Take some 8/4 stock, say 2" wide by 10" long and drill a hole at each end, for 2 rods. Make 2 boards and run the rods through them and clamp your glue up between these. Wrenches and nuts will get you incredible force. Or how about drilling each benchtop board and running the threaded rod right through it. Glue and clamp.
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  4. #4
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    Check Harbor Freight for clamps. They have really cheap clamps that are not 1/2 bad. 2 to 3 bucks each.
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  5. #5
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    You might want to do a price comparison between getting some BowClamp Good Cauls (which will reduce the number of clamps you need) and going with all clamps.
    Use the fence Luke

  6. #6
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    I'll go out on a limb here and say that while you may get away with another method, for laminating a massive top you really need a whole lot-o-clamps. Simple pipe clamps will suffice. Course if your gonna build a nice joiners bench then your gonna want to work wood and your gonna need.....clamps!

  7. #7
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    Back in the 60s & 70s, all the mags were touting threaded rods thru the tops about a foot apart. Seemed to work well. I think though, that if I were to make one now, I'd give pocket hole screws a hard look.

  8. #8
    How about ratcheting belts?

    Lewis

  9. #9
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    I've seen then and have a few of the HF clamps, but the pipe at the Borg ain't cheap. Anyone have a cheaper place or ideas to buy pipe for pipe clamps than the borg?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Wyko View Post
    Check Harbor Freight for clamps. They have really cheap clamps that are not 1/2 bad. 2 to 3 bucks each.

    I second that motion! The HF pipe clamps that Bill is refering to work just fine and last for years. I prefer the 3/4 with the "T" handle. There's a hardware store near me that sells the pipe in 20 foot lengths. They cut it for me and thread one end of the pipe to accomodate the HF clamps. When all is said and done I get the pipes for about 1/2 the price of precut and prethreaded pipes that the borgs sell. Perhaps there's a hardware store near you that will do the same thing. It's an inexpensive way to get a decent clamp that serves the purpose.
    Stephen Edwards
    Hilham, TN 38568

    "Build for the joy of it!"

  11. #11
    Instead of spending a lot of dough on clamps, this seems like a great opportunity to buy a Kreg Jig. The pocket screws in the bottom of the slab will not show, and when the glue is dry, you can take the screws out.

    I'd rather do this than buy cheap clamps. I've been frustrated every time I've bought cheap clamps. The cheapest ones I will buy now are Jorgensen bar clamps. ($10-15 ea.)

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by John Schreiber View Post
    I'm building a workbench this summer, roughly in a Roubo style following Christopher Schwarz's "Workbenches" book. That involves laminating lots of Southern Yellow Pine into a massive slab for the top and big slabs for the legs. Chris recommends a clamp every six inches plus some across the edges to hold everything in place. I haven't got nearly that many clamps, or the money to buy decent ones. None of the local rental places rent anything appropriate.

    Are there any tricks for working without clamps?

    I could wrap a set of boards in layers of tightly stretched bicycle inner tubes. I might be able to work something out with frames made of 2x4s and wedges. Or maybe I could do something with rope.

    Any good ideas?
    If you're talking about trying to clamp a bunch of 2x4's into a benchtop shape, I'm pretty sure bicycle tires or Kreg screws are not gonna supply the amount of force needed. If you really don't want to get some big clamps, you could glue and screw each board to the next one, driving the screws directly through the faces of each board. As long as the first board at the front of the bench doesn't have the screw points coming through at you, it shouldn't look too bad.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    Post Falls, Idaho
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    192

    Farmer's homemade clamp

    I saw this years ago when a neighbor was making a laminated top for a country kitchen table top and (with no clamps) had to improvise. He glued his pieces together, put strong, straight 2X4s on either edge, placed 3 bottle jacks (one was a screw type from his car) in position on the 2X4s, looped and hooked some chain around them and then used the jacks to create the pressure. It was amazing how much glue was squeezed out and the finished product turned out very nice. He was great with "make do with what you got". I attached a crude drawing of what he did.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by john bateman View Post
    If you're talking about trying to clamp a bunch of 2x4's into a benchtop shape, I'm pretty sure bicycle tires or Kreg screws are not gonna supply the amount of force needed. If you really don't want to get some big clamps, you could glue and screw each board to the next one, driving the screws directly through the faces of each board. As long as the first board at the front of the bench doesn't have the screw points coming through at you, it shouldn't look too bad.


    To take this concept one step further: Glue and screw a pair of your planks together, and let the glue cure. Then remove the screws, plane and joint, then screw another pair of your timbers to this. Repeat as many times as you need to. Then cover the screw holes with the last pair of planks by clamping or wedging as described above. It will take time, but then you would avoid needing to get a lot of clamps.

    That said, you are going to need some. And realistically, pipe clamps are versatile and not very expensive. I do all my clamping with some 3/4" pipe clamps, and use union connectors to join short pipes into long ones for certain projects.

    Doc
    As Cort would say: Fools are the only folk on the earth who can absolutely count on getting what they deserve.

  15. #15
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    Mar 2003
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    San Francisco, CA
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    Nails.

    Working your way across the slab, glue and nail each board to the next one. Keep the nails away from the top and bottom surfaces, so you don't hit them when you're planing the slab.

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