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  • Making Wood Panel Clamps

    This is something I've wanted to do for a long time. Any of you guys that do any wood working and have to glue up boards for panels know what PIA it can be.
    I've come up with several ideas over the years, including a table, but that takes up room I don't have to spare.
    There are a lot of different systems out there, Some have too many parts to have to fiddle with. I don't like anything with wood because any glue that squeezes out and sticks to it can tear out chunks of your panels at the seams when you break everything down. Yea, I know, you can use masking tape, wax paper etc. but that's a pain too. Bare steel or black iron stains the wood when the glue contacts it.
    Then I ran across these. https://www.woodpeck.com/one-time-to...lamp-2019.html I was almost ready to pull the trigger until I saw the price.
    I could make them very easily, I have plenty of 1" sq.tube in the shop. Drilling the holes is no problem, I could even have them powder coated. I could buy a few cheap C clamps and use the screws and pads. I can make everything pretty easy except for the bars which are laser cut. I have plasma cutter, but the clean up and finish work would be time consuming. What do you think? Any ideas?

    JL...................
    Last edited by JoeLee; 02-20-2020, 08:55 PM.

  • #2
    You can get four complete sets for $440. You won't make them in two 8 hour days. Figure your time is worth at least $35 an hour. Even if you could make them in 16 hours, that would be $560. If you are retired and don't put a dollar value on your time, then go for it. I'm retired, but I still get at least one call a week asking me for design or machining. I base my time/cost on that $35 per hour figure. You can build damn near anything yourself with a mill and a lathe, but sometimes it just doesn't make sense.
    Brian Rupnow
    Design engineer
    Barrie, Ontario, Canada

    Comment


    • #3
      The nice thing about making things for yourself to USE, is that you don't have to make them nice to satisfy a retail market... Plasma cut edges would be just fine on the clamp arms, and save you tons of time, but on a retail product for woodworkers? No way would that ever fly. Quick an dirty trick of making things like that would be to plasma cut the outer profile, then weld together 4 arms to drill/ream the pivots so they all are good to each other.

      If you're in to math problems, than ya it might not make $ense to make them. You make that call. BUT if you're in to making things.....to make other things.....

      I vote make them.

      I've always got by with the old bog standard pipe clamps, and have amassed quite a few pairs over the years....but, I CAN see the merit in the design you showed. Easy, simple operation, and it solves all the problems of a glue up lamination. I like it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Brian has a good point on the cost. But as has often been pointed out for home shop types it's frequently not just about cost.

        As a fellow woodworker if I were to make clamps of this sort I'd do it as a system with long and short bars and make the ends all separate "yokes" that are attached to the bars that are suitable for the job. And while the hitch pins are nice I'd go with bolts that have the threaded portion cut off as cheaper pins. And the lower pins to hold the end yokes would have hair pin retainers and the upper pins would just slip in place with no need for retainers as the tension would easily hold things all together and they'd be faster to position that way.

        For the flat side plates of the yokes suggest finding a local outfit with water jet cutting. For 6 bars at one time you're going to need 24 of them. If you don't want to do that I'd say lay out and drill the holes for 24 plates on some 0.1 or 1/8" plate and rough cut outside the final outlines. Then stack and bolt all of them into a block and machine the surfaces all in one go. Octagonal at the ends instead of round is fine. Or octagonal then dress them more or less round with some filing. That way the plates are all the same and just need the edges broken. For the screw ends I'd opt for acme threaded rod and buying an acme tap of the right size. Make your own bolts and specifically the threaded pivot barrels.

        And yes, this will certainly cost you more than a couple of days. And frankly now that I consider it probably easily half of what it costs for four of the commercial clamps just for supplies. But I'm basing this on producing 6 sets of long bars for bigger table tops and 6 sets of 3 or 4 ft bars for smaller panels. So it would be a lot of clamps for the money but easily quite a big job.

        I'd consider facing the inside surfaces of the bars with UHMW PVC tape. You know... the plastic that nothing sticks to? I know a few places sell it for making slippery spots on jigs.
        Chilliwack BC, Canada

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by brian Rupnow View Post
          You can get four complete sets for $440. You won't make them in two 8 hour days. Figure your time is worth at least $35 an hour. Even if you could make them in 16 hours, that would be $560. If you are retired and don't put a dollar value on your time, then go for it. I'm retired, but I still get at least one call a week asking me for design or machining. I base my time/cost on that $35 per hour figure. You can build damn near anything yourself with a mill and a lathe, but sometimes it just doesn't make sense.
          Brian, your absolutely correct.
          I probably couldn't make them in four 8 hour day especially being as fussy as I am with my projects. It would probably take me a full day or more just to drill all the holes in 8 pieces of sq. tube.

          I also found this.............https://damstom.com/
          These guys are in your neck of the woods. This wold be my 2nd choice only because this system doesn't provide any squeeze to the boards. But a C-clamp could be used where ever needed.
          It's still a simple and fast.

          JL...................

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Dan Dubeau View Post
            The nice thing about making things for yourself to USE, is that you don't have to make them nice to satisfy a retail market... Plasma cut edges would be just fine on the clamp arms, and save you tons of time, but on a retail product for woodworkers? No way would that ever fly. Quick an dirty trick of making things like that would be to plasma cut the outer profile, then weld together 4 arms to drill/ream the pivots so they all are good to each other.

            If you're in to math problems, than ya it might not make $ense to make them. You make that call. BUT if you're in to making things.....to make other things.....

            I vote make them.

            I've always got by with the old bog standard pipe clamps, and have amassed quite a few pairs over the years....but, I CAN see the merit in the design you showed. Easy, simple operation, and it solves all the problems of a glue up lamination. I like it.
            I could make the arms out of 1" x 1/8" flat bar. Cut a triangle out where the bend needs to be and weld the joint.
            I might be able to use that perforated sq. tube. I think it's called utility tube and it's usually galvanized like what's used for road sign posts etc.

            JL..................


            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by BCRider View Post
              Brian has a good point on the cost. But as has often been pointed out for home shop types it's frequently not just about cost.

              As a fellow woodworker if I were to make clamps of this sort I'd do it as a system with long and short bars and make the ends all separate "yokes" that are attached to the bars that are suitable for the job. And while the hitch pins are nice I'd go with bolts that have the threaded portion cut off as cheaper pins. And the lower pins to hold the end yokes would have hair pin retainers and the upper pins would just slip in place with no need for retainers as the tension would easily hold things all together and they'd be faster to position that way.

              For the flat side plates of the yokes suggest finding a local outfit with water jet cutting. For 6 bars at one time you're going to need 24 of them. If you don't want to do that I'd say lay out and drill the holes for 24 plates on some 0.1 or 1/8" plate and rough cut outside the final outlines. Then stack and bolt all of them into a block and machine the surfaces all in one go. Octagonal at the ends instead of round is fine. Or octagonal then dress them more or less round with some filing. That way the plates are all the same and just need the edges broken. For the screw ends I'd opt for acme threaded rod and buying an acme tap of the right size. Make your own bolts and specifically the threaded pivot barrels.

              And yes, this will certainly cost you more than a couple of days. And frankly now that I consider it probably easily half of what it costs for four of the commercial clamps just for supplies. But I'm basing this on producing 6 sets of long bars for bigger table tops and 6 sets of 3 or 4 ft bars for smaller panels. So it would be a lot of clamps for the money but easily quite a big job.

              I'd consider facing the inside surfaces of the bars with UHMW PVC tape. You know... the plastic that nothing sticks to? I know a few places sell it for making slippery spots on jigs.
              I remember seeing something close to those "yokes" as you call them. I can't remember where or what they were for. If I could buy something like that it would save a lot of time as that's where all the work is .

              JL....................

              Comment


              • #8
                I'm not much of a wood worker but my FIL did a lot of. Mostly cabinet making and boat building. He built and sold over 50 boats, 3 that I watched him build. Seeing some of his work in progress I have to ask, whats wrong with pipe clamps? That's what he used for years.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by JoeLee View Post
                  I could make the arms out of 1" x 1/8" flat bar. Cut a triangle out where the bend needs to be and weld the joint.
                  I might be able to use that perforated sq. tube. I think it's called utility tube and it's usually galvanized like what's used for road sign posts etc.

                  JL..................

                  Have a look at t-post for fencing too. They're cheap, and sometimes come with holes/notches spaced at even increments. Take advantage of mass market consumer items that get you further to your destination, and design around they're shortcomings for the finishing touches. I like your thinking on the notch/weld. It's a utilitarian tool. No need to make it more polished and refined than it needs to be. The goal is to be cheap and functional. I get sucked down that rabbit hole or trying to make everything too nice far too often as well.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Well I may have to end up making these after all. I went back and looked at the ad on the web page.

                    OneTIME Tool - CLAMPZILLA 4-WAY PANEL CLAMP - 2019 - RETIRED JULY 29, 2019

                    I wondered what that meant.
                    At first I thought the guy that was making these retired. Looks like it was a one-time deal I don't know I'll have to call.

                    JL........


                    Comment


                    • #11
                      BC, here are the yokes I was referring to when I quoted your post. I know I saw them somewhere.
                      With a little modification and creativity I could adapt these to fit the square tube. Biggest part would be drilling all the holes in a square tube, unless I go with utility tube.
                      https://www.rockler.com/4-way-equal-...CABEgLPZfD_BwE
                      JL.....
                      Last edited by JoeLee; 02-21-2020, 01:27 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        If you enjoy building your own clamps then you might also want to check out John Heisz.

                        I have a few of his earlier design, they saved my bacon then because I couldn't afford hundreds of dollars on clamps working with old iron and junk yard finds and leftover building debris for materials. I have since invested a whole 70 euros with shipping in some 1/2" pipe clamps and another 50€ in 1 meter pipes for them and with those and my existing heisz bar clamps I have enough for my needs. The pipe clamps are a lot nicer to use.

                        I like those rockler clamps, look very clever. But as I said, I have enough clamps.

                        My time is valued at 0 or less, I am not doing this for a job and it's not taking time from my day job and I am not arrogant enough to think I should be paid on my off time.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JoeLee View Post
                          Well I may have to end up making these after all. I went back and looked at the ad on the web page.

                          OneTIME Tool - CLAMPZILLA 4-WAY PANEL CLAMP - 2019 - RETIRED JULY 29, 2019

                          I wondered what that meant.
                          At first I thought the guy that was making these retired. Looks like it was a one-time deal I don't know I'll have to call.

                          JL........

                          Well, I gave them a call this morning. They made these for a short period of time and stopped production. I guess they do this with a lot of the tools they make.
                          Probably depending on popularity and sales. Given the price I doubt they were flying off the shelf.

                          So for now, this becomes another project I'll put on the back burner. Anyway this gives me time think it over, look for parts, materials etc.

                          JL....................
                          Last edited by JoeLee; 02-21-2020, 10:13 AM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I don't have any problem getting good glue-ups with regular Harbor Freight pipe clamps (you buy the heads and provide your own pipes). If I am using black pipe, I always use wax paper to prevent the black marks from the tannin in the wood mixing with the iron. Sure it's a PITA, but if you take the time, it's worth the effort. On large, flat panel glue-ups, I will stagger the clamps - one on the bottom, then one on the top, then another on the bottom, etc. I just make damn sure that the wood is against the pipe, even if I have to hammer the crap out of the panel to make it flat. C-clamps are also used to pull the wood to the pipe at the ends of the clamps. Time spent in ensuring a good, flat glue-up is time well spent.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by barracudajoe View Post
                              I'm not much of a wood worker but my FIL did a lot of. Mostly cabinet making and boat building. He built and sold over 50 boats, 3 that I watched him build. Seeing some of his work in progress I have to ask, whats wrong with pipe clamps? That's what he used for years.
                              I was wondering the same thing. I use pipe clamps. Simple. Cheap. Lengths up to 20 feet.
                              OPEN EYES, OPEN EARS, OPEN MIND

                              THINK HARDER

                              BETTER TO HAVE TOOLS YOU DON'T NEED THAN TO NEED TOOLS YOU DON'T HAVE

                              MY NAME IS BRIAN AND I AM A TOOLOHOLIC

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