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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The more wood working I do, the more I find that one of the biggest investments entails clamps. A friend warned me “Charlie, you can never have enough clamps.” He was right.

I need parallel clamps but they are really attacking my hobby budget.

Anyone have suggestions for the cheapest seller or best place for good deals on clamps? $50-$100 is per clamp is really painful.


Thanks


Charlie
 

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No problem. Wooden cam clamps. I made up a batch quite awhile back, out of plwood, from about 6" to 48", figure the cost was around $.25 each Plans all over the net, but think they all call for some form of metal, nails, shaft, etc. Mine were 100% plywood, with wood glue. Work great, luthiers use them a lot I changed what I worked on, and recycled all of them - planer sleds, etc.

Free plans all over the web.
 

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Many of us are all over the board on clamps. Last count, I have somewhere north of 150. In that much too small collection are a whole bunch of Harbor Freight F clamps, a LOT of pipe clamps (Pony and others), a few Besseys, some HF aluminum clamps, a few antique bar clamps and so on. The Besseys in my collection are relatively new. Like most, I got by with pipe clamps and HF bar clamps.

Using pipes with threads on both ends, you can add couplers and extend three or four foot pipes to clamp the world.

Too, you can even make your own clamps. Here is a write up I did on one type I came up with for use on my bandsaw, drill press and so on:

https://www.instructables.com/id/SMALL-PARTS-HOLDING-CLAMP/
 

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Just out of curiosity, why do you feel you need parallel clamps? I have 4 Besseys I got from Lee Valley when they had a sale on them years ago, 2 50"s and 2 30"s and I rarely use them and don't particularly like them. I find you often need 3 hands to operate them, one to hold the clamp in place on your work, one to hold the mechanism under the jaw until there is sufficient pressure on it to hold it in place, and one hand to tighten the clamp. Unfortunately I only have 2 hands. So I tend to prefer using regular F clamps, pipe clamps, and lately I've been collecting the aluminum beam clamps when they are on sale. I only use the aluminum ones in long lengths, 48" and up, because at those lengths the other types get very heavy. If I need more pressure I add some of the other types after I've secured my work with the aluminum ones. By that time I have both hands free to man handle the heavy ones.
 

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Charlie, would pipe clamps do...? They come in 1/2" and 3/4" pipe. Heavier than the Bessey's or Irwin's but will do the job.

Example 3/4"... https://www.rockler.com/sure-foot-plus-3-4-pipe-clamp
And if shipping adds too much your local home store (Home Depot/Lowe's) will generally have them in stock (card holders get 5% off while military 10%) and I know Lowe's will cut and thread the pipe to custom lengths. Buy the 8' pipe cheaper then the pre-cut/threaded and get multiple smaller lengths for less. Hope that makes sense.

That and look for specials and buy when the price is good. Seems Bora has 4-50" for $119 at Woodpecker +shipping which adds up and Lowe's has them in house on sale. That's when I usually add to the clamp rack below........need more yet and the pipe clamps are in an overhead rack.
 

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And yes Harbor Freight clamps are suitable for the most part but you also need to pay attention to the clamping pressure ratings or you'll find some just won't clamp as tight as you need. On the HF aluminum clamps you really need to add some wood to reinforce them before they work well. Not a big deal and very doable.
 

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On the HF aluminum clamps you really need to add some wood to reinforce them before they work well.
Not a big deal and very doable.
why buy something that needs work/rework/modifications to get it preform and add costs...
would you buy a brand new truck and then have it towed to a repair shop and pay to have made operational???
I think not...
 
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why buy something that needs work/rework/modifications to get it preform and add costs...
would you buy a brand new truck and then have it towed to a repair shop and pay to have made operational???
I think not...
Now that's a stretch Stick, like a mile long one too. I'm talking a piece of scrap and you're talking $$$$. Compare those HF to the brand name and see the difference $$. Now if that truck was a bargain and a few $$ would give me reliable transportation, heck yeah.....just saying.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I have F clamps but was trying doing some laminating of pieces. I needed to spread the pressure over a larger area to help hide the seams. If I use backer boards, the f clamps don't seem to have enough power
 

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Now that's a stretch Stick, like a mile long one too. I'm talking a piece of scrap and you're talking $$$$. Compare those HF to the brand name and see the difference $$. Now if that truck was a bargain and a few $$ would give me reliable transportation, heck yeah.....just saying.
it was an analogy... that's all...
I'm talking time/energy/material and intangible cost added to a marginal product...
add them all up over and over again...
then take the sum off of the bottom line...

shop floor space is valuable...
here's my answer to floor space saving... 3 times over and w/ in close reach of the assembly table...
lots less material used up too...
material cost money... why use it if there's a plan ''B''???

.
 

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And yes Harbor Freight clamps are suitable for the most part but you also need to pay attention to the clamping pressure ratings or you'll find some just won't clamp as tight as you need. On the HF aluminum clamps you really need to add some wood to reinforce them before they work well. Not a big deal and very doable.
I read years ago that the number one cause of joint failure was over clamping. It said that adding extra pressure to make up for a bad fit is a recipe for failure. With that extra pressure you squeeze too much of the glue out. You can make allowances for that by gluing both sides of the joint and waiting until the glue is just starting to skin over. That gives it time to soak into the grain first.

I find in most cases the aluminum beam clamps can apply just enough pressure but there issues with all of them, f clamps and pipe clamps as well, bending a bit with the strain so it's a good idea to put one clamp face up and the next one face down when gluing panels. Even when you are using cauls it's still a good idea.
 

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Several clamps, alternate above and below, modest pressure has worked for me so far. If your joints are true, you don't have to wrestle the boards together with a ton of clamping pressure.

Before I had an adequate number of clamps I definitely over clamped a few panels and made "banana" shape boards. Two of the shelves in my basement stereo cabinet still remind me of that today. It's a subtle curve, but I can see it...:mad::mad::mad:
 

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Regardless of whether the parallel clamps put pressure on at a perfectly square angle or not cauls are still a good idea. Few boards are dead flat, even after being dressed so the cauls help line the edges up.
 
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