Shop Tips & Tricks #10: Clamping Big Stuff

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by GnarlyErik posted 04-05-2013 09:00 PM 5036 reads 2 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 9: Preventing End Grain splitting Part 10 of Shop Tips & Tricks series Part 11: MORE than you ever wanted to know about HOLES! »

Here are some little tricks you can use when you are trying to clamp something bigger or longer than your available clamps.

‘Joining’ clamps: Sometimes it is possible to simply clamp one clamp to another, with their business (working) dogs to the outside of your work as with pipe clamps, but in the case of door clamps this is hard or impossible to do since you can not rotate the dogs of the clamps.

Once neat solution is to use a piece of scrap as a ‘joiner’, sandwiching it between the clamp dogs. You need at least three clamps to do this, and more are better -

See photos below:

Another way is by using wedges, which seems simple enough, but it is amusing to me so many people do not think of doing this, which can be adapted to almost any length or shape with a little thought. See illustration below:

A prime consideration using either of these methods is that you should also clamp your stock to a flat surface or planks to prevent it from bowing up (or down) in the middle as you apply pressure to the outer edges of the stock.

Another consideration is to make sure your clamp dogs are well padded to avoid damage to your stock. With wedges, it is imperative you use a piece of sacrificial material between your wedges and your stock. Wedges are generally used in opposing pairs and it helps to blunt the narrower ends so you can drive them back when needed. You can easily make a simple jig to cut identical wedges on the table saw if need be. About a 1 to 8 or longer taper is appropriate.

-- "Never let your dogma be run over by your karma!"

9 comments so far

View Bob817's profile


679 posts in 3469 days

#1 posted 04-05-2013 09:58 PM

good idea but why not just grab the 2 tops together instead of using a board?

-- ~ Bob ~ Newton, N.H.

View GnarlyErik's profile


344 posts in 3220 days

#2 posted 04-06-2013 12:21 AM

Bob, with door clamps you can only turn the dogs to allow them to grab each other by turning each clamp about 45 degrees which makes for a very uneasy grip prone to slipping. Using pipe clamps you can turn the dogs sideways.

-- "Never let your dogma be run over by your karma!"

View Bob817's profile


679 posts in 3469 days

#3 posted 04-06-2013 01:07 AM

Yeah I realized that after I posted, Sorry. We can’t delete once we hit “post this comment”

-- ~ Bob ~ Newton, N.H.

View shipwright's profile


8717 posts in 3884 days

#4 posted 04-06-2013 01:30 AM

Good one Eric, especially the wedges.
So many people just don’t think of them but they are so very useful and sooooo powerful.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Sylvain's profile


1253 posts in 3586 days

#5 posted 04-06-2013 01:40 PM

Another overlooked technique is the tourniquet (as for tensioning a bow saw).
easy for gluing chairs with a trapezoidal seating.
The rope will dent the wood if you don’t put a sacrificial scrap.

look here another use (third picture from bottom):

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View GnarlyErik's profile


344 posts in 3220 days

#6 posted 04-06-2013 02:10 PM

Right you are Sylvain! Good tip.


-- "Never let your dogma be run over by your karma!"

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 3700 days

#7 posted 04-06-2013 02:31 PM

thank you very much for sharing ,its great tips and always look foward to them again thanks from a newbie

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View Mauricio's profile


7166 posts in 4238 days

#8 posted 04-07-2013 04:21 AM

Great tips! I’ve tried using wedges before but I really like your use of clamps to hold the cross pieces.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 3196 days

#9 posted 04-07-2013 12:30 PM

Don’t forget the tried and true ratchet strap, too…

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics