Simple Jigs and Techniques #4: Veneer Press Screws for $4.50

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 03-04-2014 09:05 PM 23564 reads 8 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Matching Short Grain Veneer Border Part 4 of Simple Jigs and Techniques series Part 5: All Wood Button Catch »

When I built my small veneer press in Green Valley I made six holes for screws, like my bigger one at home but only installed four screws because they are expensive and I wasn’t sure I really needed six.

Then I stole one to make my Miter Jack.

That left me somewhat deficient in veneer press screws so I decided to try something I have been thinking about for a while now. I remember looking at the $6, six Inch “C” clamps at HF and wondering how hard it would be to turn one into a veneer press screw. ...................... Well it turns out, ..... NOT HARD AT ALL.
( ................. and $6 with a 25% off coupon is only $4.50)

Here’s a real one beside the HF “C” clamp. The threads are a little slower but not much, the length is the same and the ends are different.

This one shows what you have when you cut the “nut” off of the clamp and grind the ball off one end of the handle to facilitate installation of the screw in the press.

And here it is in the press. The nut will need to be epoxied or well jammed into the beam but it works very well. I guess I’ll get a few more. The press was made Q & D from green, wet, nasty construction 2X4s and a couple of the joints have failed so I may replace the whole thing ….. thing is, I installed threaded rods when I built it and it still works fine so it’s not that high on the priority list.

And, as an added bonus if you make one today, we’ll give you absolutely FREE, a solid steel bench holdfast. (wedge not included)

This may not save all that much on a simple press but at ~$18 each for real ones it would add up quickly if you were considering a large press with many screws.

Here’s hoping someone can use this.

Thanks for looking in.


Addendum Jan. 2015

Well, I finally got around to replacing the old press with a newer, better built one. This one uses the original three Lee Valley screws in the front frame and three modified HF 8” C clamps in the rear one. I added speed handles made from square U bolts and they all work perfectly. The cost, including handles is about $6.50 each.

The pictures show the press set up with an extra long platen for a large job I have coming up and with one of the old frames in the middle. When that job is done the platen will be cut back and the middle frame removed to storage for next time. I only have room for a 20” X 20” press in my little marquetry shop.

The original handle was a 5/16” bar, loose fit. Turns out a 3/8” tap fits right in.

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

25 comments so far

View TerryDowning's profile


1154 posts in 3616 days

#1 posted 03-04-2014 09:12 PM

And I even have some C Clamps that are rarely used. Thanks as always for the idea Paul! Had my Miter Jack on hold until I could scrounge enough recycling money for a press screw. Now I just need to find the time.

-- - Terry

View rance's profile


4282 posts in 4659 days

#2 posted 03-04-2014 09:43 PM

Very clever Paul. Good use for a HF clamp. It sure seems there would be a solution using 3/4” all-thread. But I’m guessing it would be more expensive.

Could you elaborate on “a couple of the joints have failed”? It looks like you have your threaded rod as a backup just inside the joints. How did the finger joint fail if the threaded rod was in place? Or were those installed after the failure?

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Sodabowski's profile


2404 posts in 4331 days

#3 posted 03-04-2014 10:07 PM

I thought you had gone the “vacuum press” way Paul… I actually modified my father’s compressor just to do that (by doubling the inlet and adding two manifolds and a vacuum gauge). That’s a very clever trick though!

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View gbear's profile


545 posts in 5598 days

#4 posted 03-04-2014 11:06 PM

Nice tip…I’m glad someone found a use for HF stuff!

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4807 days

#5 posted 03-04-2014 11:09 PM

Great idea Paul…Those Harbor Freight clamps look like they are just the ticket…amazing what a little imagination and creativeness will accomplish…

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5380 days

#6 posted 03-04-2014 11:18 PM

Now that is using your thinker.
I’ve got to check this out. I hate going into HF though, I always end up with some junk. But one guys junk is another guys treasure.

Talk about a cheap Moxon Vise …

Thanks for the tip.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Karson's profile


35301 posts in 5899 days

#7 posted 03-05-2014 01:02 AM

There onsale now for 5.99

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 4037 days

#8 posted 03-05-2014 02:05 AM

Very clever Paul, nice job.

-- I never finish anyth

View kiefer's profile


5852 posts in 4165 days

#9 posted 03-05-2014 02:32 AM

I like that modification and will keep that in mind but no HF up here but Princess Auto may have some cheap .

-- Kiefer

View shipwright's profile (online now)


8822 posts in 4296 days

#10 posted 03-05-2014 03:41 AM

Some answers:

Rance, the problem with all-thread (ready rod in Canada) is it’s really slow, too many threads per inch. These need to be quick, especially with HHG.
The rod bolts were put in at the beginning because I didn’t trust the construction 2×4s vs. Arizona summer.

Thomas, Vacuum bags are great but for marquetry (actually veneer in general) I now prefer screws because you can start at one side and work the pressure to the other. Keep an eye out for my next project. It used that one piece of thin Padauk that I picked up at les fils de J George. ..... Good times.

Steve, I love Harbor Freight. Some of my favorite tools come from there. ..... like the trim router.

Thanks all

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

View Jim Sellers's profile

Jim Sellers

523 posts in 3833 days

#11 posted 03-05-2014 04:21 AM

Great idea Paul. I’ll surely be in HF for a couple of those.

I thought you done most of your veneering/marquetry by using the hammering method with hot hide glue which didn’t need clamping.

-- J.C.Sellers, Norcross, Ga. Just cut it right the first time. The best carpenters make the fewest chips.

View shipwright's profile (online now)


8822 posts in 4296 days

#12 posted 03-05-2014 04:31 AM

Thanks Jim.
You can’t hammer marquetry. I do hammer solid veneer areas like the insides of boxes where there is no marquetry, but you can’t work a hammer over all those little pieces without creating an unholy mess. Also hammer veneering relies on a solid surface to prevent air from getting under and breaking the seal so even if you could keep all the bits in place, it still wouldn’t work. I hope that makes sense to you.

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

View Bluepine38's profile


3393 posts in 4584 days

#13 posted 03-05-2014 04:58 AM

Just another idea Zoro Tools has a 3’ length of 1/2”-10 acme rod for 6.99 and acme nuts are available on
e-bay, You could build your own press screws fairly economically. I mentioned these sources because they
are available to everyone. I get my Acme threaded rod and nuts from Fasteners INC. I retired from there
when I turned 70-5 years ago, but they still have me come back to help out when they get in a bind. I will
finish up my current stint in 2 weeks and retire once more.

-- As ever, Gus-the 83 yr young apprentice carpenter

View lanwater's profile


3115 posts in 4432 days

#14 posted 03-05-2014 06:16 AM

I thought about using the pipe clamp head screw for this but it would have been more expensive.

you showed me a cheaper way.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View Greg's profile


335 posts in 4372 days

#15 posted 03-05-2014 08:27 AM

Brilliant man! I love the, “But wait! There’s MORE!” part at the end. :)

-- You don't have a custom made heirloom fly fishing Net?

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