Shop Built Clamps

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Blog entry by Dave Rutan posted 07-02-2012 04:52 PM 48772 reads 32 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Lately I’ve been looking around trying to find inexpensive ways to make clamps to use in the shop. I think of my purchased commercially available clamps I own two 3 foot bar clamps and three Quick Grip clamps, plus two old c-clamps.

Bar Type Clamps:

The first information I found about making your own clamps was Alex Harris’ video.

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I made one of these out of some second hand wood I had, though I did fudge the screw in favor of my own variation.

Spool Clamps:

I also have some spool clamps, a compliment of 14 which I used when i built my wife’s dulcimer. Since I plan on continuing my dabbling in lutherie, it seemed wise to have some around.

Not sure if I needed this, but here’s a video on the subject.

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Cam Clamps:

Another cool clamp is a cam clamp, also called a luthier’s clamp. Ya never know when you’ll need a light duty clamp with some reach to it.

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Picture Frame Clamp:

And since I like oddball projects, I couldn’t resist making a picture frame clamp after I found this video:
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My version, made of recycled oak from a shipping pallet.

My Bar Clamp:

This clamp I made after much searching around and careful though. I felt so good about the design that i sent a very short one out to Steve Ramsey in case he wanted to do something with it in a video. Later this year I’ll e making more of these. I figure I can make 6 clamps out of a board 12 inches wide. I plan on making six 4 footers and six 3 footers.

Steve was kind enough to give me my 15 seconds of fame in his Mere Minutes Vlog (though truth be told, I do not live nor ever have lived in Albany.)

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Hand Screw Clamps:

And Lastly I made this hand screw clamp.

I was thinking about this for some time and thoroughly enjoyed the series starting here

However, it was when I found these instructions that I felt comfortable enough to make the attempt. I did fudge them by using nuts nested in a drilled hole instead of threading turned screws, but hey, that’s how I make sawdust.I think the best thing about these is that I can make them out of scrap 2×4s. The one shown used a hunk 9 inches long.

[EDIT] There’s a sort of tutorial on how I made my hand screws [Here], plus a video I made! [Here]

Heavy Duty Bar Clamps:

If you need to make a clamp that’s really heavy duty, I found this video that pretty much shows to to make classic style bar clamps. A couple of these are on my list for a future project.

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And if you just like to watch videos, here is a link to a playlist I maintain about any shop made clamps I find. Enjoy.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

15 comments so far

View woodklutz's profile


221 posts in 3821 days

#1 posted 07-02-2012 05:55 PM

thanks for this, great aid and practical.

-- honing my craft one mistake at a time.

View Enoelf's profile


192 posts in 3316 days

#2 posted 07-02-2012 07:42 PM

Thanks for sharing this information. Being on an increasingly tighter budget makes creating some tools mandatory!

-- Central Ohio, Still got 9 and 15/16 fingers!

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

2008 posts in 3241 days

#3 posted 07-02-2012 07:51 PM

Enoelf, I definitely know the feeling. I made a simple marking gauge to see if I even needed one. I use it occasionally and it works. I also rigged up a leg vise on my small workbench. It’s handy, but i think I’ll be making something a little more standard soon. Sometimes stone knives and bear skins work well enough.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4630 days

#4 posted 07-02-2012 08:02 PM

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 3241 days

#5 posted 07-02-2012 09:02 PM

Thank you very much dave!

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View Terry Vaughan's profile

Terry Vaughan

40 posts in 3210 days

#6 posted 07-07-2012 09:10 PM

Cam clamps usually have steel spines. What do you think of making the whole thing in birch plywood? I am thinking of trying this, but one problem I can see is getting glue in the works!


my wooden bowls

-- Terry,

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

2008 posts in 3241 days

#7 posted 07-08-2012 12:17 AM


*Here's a video tells how to make a cam clamp with a wooden spine.


-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View Terry Vaughan's profile

Terry Vaughan

40 posts in 3210 days

#8 posted 07-08-2012 01:47 PM

Thanks Dave, that looks easy enough, I shall make some up.

-- Terry,

View Brent Powers's profile

Brent Powers

22 posts in 4639 days

#9 posted 11-06-2012 08:07 PM

I realize that this is an old thread, but thought I’d add my $0.02 (US).

These are great projects. If only there were usable drawings. I’m afraid that a video doesn’t tell me much about how to make something.

I’m done whimpering now…

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

2008 posts in 3241 days

#10 posted 11-06-2012 11:52 PM

Having measured drawings is always ideal, but lately, I’ve been taking the idea of a project and producing something that fits my methods and available materials.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View CFrye's profile


11214 posts in 2893 days

#11 posted 08-21-2013 12:41 AM

Wow Dave! You have a huge amount of data here. Hope you don’t mind if I add a link that may help Brent. Hubby used the info from American Woodworker to build clamps for the shop. Step by step pictures and a cut list.

-- God bless, Candy

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

2008 posts in 3241 days

#12 posted 08-21-2013 01:47 AM


No problem making this Clamp Central. I think the American Woodworker clamp is the model that Alex Harris used for his.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

2008 posts in 3241 days

#13 posted 09-27-2013 12:39 PM

Lately I’ve been finding more videos on YouTube about shop made clamps. I’ve been maintaining a playlist of these videos. You can see it here.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View JamesGroover's profile


6 posts in 2338 days

#14 posted 11-19-2014 03:16 AM

Thanks for the great idea, got so tired winding and winding with the 1/2” threaded rods I use, I am so happy someone found a faster and easier way. I may just have to destroy the clamps I have and cannibalize them for parts and do this project instead. Thanks for the plans also.

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

2008 posts in 3241 days

#15 posted 11-19-2014 12:08 PM

JamesGroover, Thanks. That’s what this site is about, sharing ideas.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

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