Two Hand Screw Clamps for a Video

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Project by Dave Rutan posted 11-08-2013 04:04 PM 21628 views 62 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

[Legebla ankaŭ en Esperanto]

I wrote out these instructions for making a hand screw clamp. I ended up making two of them while filming the video (link to video here.) I posted the video earlier, but I’m finally posting it as a project.

How To Make A Hand Screw Clamp by Dave Rutan

Woodworkers always say you can never have enough clamps. Even though they’re not thought of as real tools, when you need a clamp to hold a project together for gluing, you realize how important they are. But clamps are expensive. And who wants to spend good money on something as mundane as a clamp? So why not make your own?

In this article I’m going to show how to make a woodworking clamp. I’ll take you through the process step by step. When you’re finished you’ll have a useful tool to add to your woodworking collection.

Parts of the clamp:

Jaws: The jaws of these clamps are made of wood. It’s actually one of the attractive aspects of these clamps. I’m using an offcut from a stud I had laying around. It’s not important whether the wood is new or old, but it should be a good solid piece with no large knots. It needs to be at least 3 ½ x 1 ½ x 10 inches (9 cm x 4 cm x 25 cm) long.

Handles: The handles are also made from scrap wood. I cut mine from a hunk of 2×4. They measure 4 inches long by 1 inch on each side (11 cm x 2.5 cm x2.5 cm).

Threaded rod: I’m using 3/8 inch (M10) threaded rod for the screw mechanism on this clamp. You can use something slightly larger, though I would not recommend using anything smaller on this size clamp. You need two lengths a foot long (30 cm).

Nuts: you need 6 nuts that fit on the threaded rod you are using.

Dowel: You need a piece of doweling to plug the holes you will drill for the nuts (see Below)

Glue: You need some wood glue and some strong epoxy.

Making the jaws

Cut the wood to 10 inches (25 cm) long. Then cut it lengthwise exactly in half (about 1 ¾ in.) (4.5 cm). Mark for the angle on the jaw and cut that.
Using the layout lines, drill 2 shallow 3/4 in. (25 cm) holes in both sides of the right jaw. Make the holes just a little deeper than the thickness of the nuts.
Now drill a 1/2 in. (13 mm) hole through the center of the 3/4 in. (20 mm) holes, but drill all the way through. Also drill matching 3/8 in. (13 mm) holes on the left jaw using the layout lines. These are the holes for the threaded rods.
On the face of the left jaw, drill 3/4 in. (20 mm) holes for the nuts to fit into. These holes do not go all the way through, but must be deeper than the holes for the rods.

Making the Handles

Cut the handles from another piece of 2×4. They measure 1×1 inch (2.5 cm x 2.5 cm) and are 4 inches (10 cm) long.
If you want to put copper caps on the handles, you will need to round the ends to fit the caps. A lathe is handy for this, or you can use a belt sander.

The hole for the threaded rod must be drilled in the cap as close to center as possible. The cap can then be used to locate the hole in the handle.
A hole to match the threaded rod is bored into the handle. Make it 3 inches (7.5 cm) deep.
Now that the component parts are done, the handles can be assembled. Use epoxy glue to hold the rods in the hole in the grip. The caps can be slipped on and glued on as well.

Assembly and Finishing

Before beginning the assembly, cut two short pieces from the length of dowel. The dowel should match the holes in the face of the left jaw and should be about 1 inch (25 mm) long.

Thread a nut most of the way down one rod, leaving about a ½ inch (1.5 cm) from the handle. Insert the rod through the lower hole on the right jaw from the outside. Now thread on a second nut almost all the way to the jaw. Place a nut in the lower hole on the left jaw and inserting the threaded rod into the hole in the ide, thread the rod onto that nut, just until it comes out the opposite side of the jaw.

Place a nut in the upper hole in the left jaw and thread the other handle through it most of the way. You will need to press down on the nut with your thumb to keep it from turning freely. When you get close to the right jaw, thread a nut onto the end of that rod a few inches in. (5 cm). Insert the end of that rod into the right jaw and thread a nut onto the end of the rod. Pick up the clamp by the handles and give it a little spin. Everything should spin freely and feel a little loose.

Now glue the dowel pieces into the holes on the face of the left jaw. The dowels need to hold the nuts from turning.
After the glue has dried, sand the glued dowels down even with the surface of the jaw. Give the clamp a final sanding at this time.

You can finish the clamp with lacquer or an oil finish to help wood glue from adhering to the jaws.
Your clamp is now finished. Go and make something with wood!
A video of the construction of this clamp is available on YouTube. Search for ‘Ligneroj-1’ [or click here]

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

21 comments so far

View bluekingfisher's profile


1333 posts in 4055 days

#1 posted 11-08-2013 07:25 PM

Nice project Dave, I have added them to my favourites list for future reference. Thanks very much for postingg

-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

View Diggerjacks's profile


2330 posts in 4214 days

#2 posted 11-08-2013 07:36 PM

Hello Dave

An instructif project with the video

Thanks for sharing

-- Diggerjack-France ---The only limit is the limit of the mind and the mind has no limit

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

2009 posts in 3264 days

#3 posted 11-08-2013 07:43 PM

I’m glad it’s helpful. A lot of my projects from now on will have videos and instructions.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 3264 days

#4 posted 11-08-2013 11:03 PM

Outstanding Dave! Thank you!

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View DBuonomano's profile


90 posts in 3171 days

#5 posted 11-08-2013 11:52 PM

This is a great tutorial! I had bought all the parts to make a pair of these clamps but hadn’t gotten started yet, nice to know I’m on the right track!

View lepelerin's profile


498 posts in 3400 days

#6 posted 11-08-2013 11:57 PM

excellent. Tx for the post. I defitively need some of them. Too expensive to buy at the store.

I noticed a typo on your diagram 5 1/2 in = 14 cm not 14 mm

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

2009 posts in 3264 days

#7 posted 11-09-2013 12:00 AM

DBuonomano, Thanks! I have six of these clamps which I built. I need at least 2 more. They have served me well over the last year or so. Even my prototype, which I always expect will fail, just keeps going.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

2009 posts in 3264 days

#8 posted 11-09-2013 12:04 AM

lepelerin, Thx for that catch. A bug always gets past my eyes.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

2009 posts in 3264 days

#9 posted 11-09-2013 01:16 AM

lepelerin, I just fixed the typo. Thx again.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View mcgyver's profile


57 posts in 2947 days

#10 posted 11-09-2013 01:24 AM

going to dig through my scrap bens in am to see if I have the treaded stock to make some.

-- Mcgyver

View lepelerin's profile


498 posts in 3400 days

#11 posted 11-09-2013 04:57 AM

Your welcome, I will definitively built some.

View Oldtool's profile


3215 posts in 3266 days

#12 posted 11-09-2013 12:19 PM


Great write-up,and drawings to complement your video. I’ve needed to make some of these for a while having fallen a little short on clamps during glue-ups, now I have no more excuses not to do so.
Thanks for the information, I’ll put it to good use.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View TDominy's profile


205 posts in 3618 days

#13 posted 11-09-2013 01:29 PM


Thank you for the post, it is a favorite now for future construction.

And for what it is worth, I think clamps are not a waste of money and are worth their weight in gold when you need just one more. I would sign them and display them proudly.

-- By hammer in hand, all things do stand.

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

2009 posts in 3264 days

#14 posted 11-09-2013 01:55 PM

TDominy, I have no problem with store bought clamps. I own a handful myself, though no hand screws. Sometimes it’s the build that folks want, more than the end product.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View CFrye's profile


11243 posts in 2915 days

#15 posted 11-09-2013 02:37 PM

Instructions, diagrams AND video. I believe that is the trifecta of a great tutorial post Dave! Adding to the To Do List and favorited. Thanks for sharing.

-- God bless, Candy

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