Miter Clamps

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Project by kjiwa posted 06-26-2020 01:36 AM 847 views 2 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hello everyone. I’m a novice woodworker and LumberJocks lurker (until now). I work out of a super-small shop—I have about 40 sq ft of storage, and my working space is a single car garage after moving the car out. Portability and organization are huge deals for me, and I’m slowly learning how to make the most out of my space and how to be smart about tool purchases.

Two things I’ve struggled to achieve have been square and repeatability. I’ve been okay at making one-off pieces, but it took me some time to get to a point where I could make two things of a kind and have them match up pretty nicely. As an exercise, I decided to try to make a pair of miter clamps based on the Woodpeckers design:

My goals for this project were to have all of the pieces line up as closely as possible, to have the angles be as precise as possible, and to have two pieces with matching dimensions. I also wanted to gain more experience and familiarity with my table saw and biscuit joiner.

I started by cutting three 2” x 5” pieces of 3/4” plywood and glued them using biscuits. After the glue set, I ripped the piece down the middle at a 45 degree angle. I set the flat edge of each remaining piece against my saw fence and cut the pointed ends off. Finally I cut the sides down and brought them to their final dimensions. The two pieces ended up mating pretty nicely. There was one surface where I was off by about 1/32”, but everything else looked flush to my eye.

I decided to use a red spray paint for the finish. I only had a minimal amount of sanding to do. I put some tape on the bottom surface of each piece and then gave them piece several coats of paint. I wish I had applied some filler to the surface to get a smooth finish. Instead, you can see the fibers through the paint. Oh well, lesson learned. I’m still pleased with the result.

After the paint cured I put some clear tape on the top to prevent any red pigment from rubbing off on my clamps. I also put some adhesive 220 grit sandpaper along the bottom to help it grip to the work piece.

3 comments so far

View chodgson's profile


37 posts in 3494 days

#1 posted 06-26-2020 04:04 PM

While I appreciate your goal of creating two identical, precise pieces, these kind of clamping tools don’t really demand that much precision. I do wonder about your approach to making them, why biscuit joints instead of just cutting the notches out of a single piece of wood? As far as paint goes, not sure what kind of plywood you are using but only birch ply takes paint smoothly in my experience. Even the “sanded pine” which the big box sells for projects requires primer and sanding before paint. But really the paint is just to help you find them in a pile of wood in your shop so they look good to me. Here is Matthias Wandel’s take on a similar tool: – He uses them for miters all the time, even making custom ones for different-angled joints. Cheers.

View mel52's profile


1529 posts in 1074 days

#2 posted 06-26-2020 10:27 PM

Looks like they should work. Good job !!! Mike

-- MEL, Kansas

View williamhdixon's profile


17 posts in 1039 days

#3 posted 07-04-2020 08:23 PM

Your comment that you wanted to be able to “make two things of a kind and have them match up pretty nicely” reminded me of a visit to Colonial Williamsburg many years ago. We were watching a craftsman carve a claw and ball foot for a table. A woman in the group watching him made the comment “I wish I could carve something like that”. He stopped what he doing and said:

“Carving a claw and ball foot is simple. I could walk any of you here through carving one. Carving one isn’t difficult at all. Carving four that match is what takes decades of practice.”

That was almost 40 years ago, but it has stuck with me through the years.

(Oh, by the way, I have the same problem with repeatability. You have a lot of company.)

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