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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
You guys are gonna think I'm nuts, but I cannot seem to make toggle clamps work properly! Okay.....now that you've stopped laughing, heres the problem. I see Bob and Rick and all the other real guys solidly clamping down their toggle clamps. Looks neat. Seems tight. Looks really cool. BUT, I have about 75 of them now, I bought all sizes and types, and I can't lock down a simple piece of 3/4 junk wood to run it by a trim bit. Oh....it'll flip over onto the wood alright, but there is no "locking" sound or motion.
I have scared myself witless twice now and I AIN'T going back into that shop until I feel safe again! Please help. I won't even be offended if you draw it out in crayon so I can understand it.
Thanks.
Anniedog

formerly Birchwood until I discovered that no matter how I tried the system was NOT gonna let me in with my old name and Pword.
 

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This sounds like a height adjustment problem. Your toggle clamps should have an adjusting screw with a rubber pad on the clamping end. By lowering this pad in the open position you increase the clamping pressure. A bit of trial and error should give you the proper amount of adjustment to firmly clamp your workpiece down. If you can not get your clamp to securely hold the wood in place you may need a smaller clamp. Never try using an incorrectly adjusted clamp as your wood could be thrown from the jig.
Sometimes with larger or thicker pieces of wood you will need to install a riser block underneath your clamp to allow for the thickness and get your clamp into the proper adjusting range. I will edit this post later today with a photo or two to show you proper adjustment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Okay. I got ONE to work and I now suspect another is simply faulty. I will keep trying. Am trying to make a simple little "fixture" to hold some pieces I want to run through the table mounted router. I see Bob & Rick using little devices like what I'm trying to make, but I have not seen any actual plans for such jigs. Have I missed something somewhere?
 

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Any chance you can send a pic of the problem clamp?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Basically I have a 1/2" piece of B.Birch 5X12. I have mounted another piece about 2 1/2X 12 across the "back" and put the toggles on top of it, so the arms go down onto the single piece, about 6 inches apart. I want to hole pieces to run them through the bit (lengthwise) i.e. along the 12" side, held down by the toggles. I am going to mess with it again today, but I am really thinking I may have ONE bad toggle. I DID get one to work. I have a bag wtih about a billion of them in it I bought on Ebay. I think I have enough toggles to clamp down Nebraska!!
 

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Another way to help the clamps work is to put sandpaper on the surface of the fixture pattern. You need to get the correct tension on the clamp and sandpaper to prevent the skidding.

Also make sure you have very little material to remove with the router. We bandsaw the rough shape out leaving about 1/8" exposed then cut the leftovers with the router.

Rick
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks boys. I have also tried to post pix of my crude device, but I cannot figure out how to do it. Not only am I NOT a real woodworker I am NOT a computer guy. Makes you wonder just what the hell I AM doesn't it!? HA!
Hey, the new Woodworker Channel is a WINNER.
I'm gonna keep on clampin'.......I'll figure out the basics to those things yet. So far I have gotten ONE to work.
 

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To post a picture enter the text as a quick reply and then click on Go Advanced button at the bottom of the window. This opens the advanced window and if you scroll down you will see a button that says Manage attachments. Click on that and then locate the file you want to upload in the attachment window. Select upload and the image will load onto the web site. Click the close button and then select the submit button. You should then see your post with thumbnails of your picture or pictures.
 

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If you can't post a picture perhaps you can better explain
what you mean when you say the, "The clamps don't work."
Do you mean the rubber clamping bumper doesn't contact
the workpiece at all or not hard enough to hold the piece?
Or do you mean that the rubber bumper contacts the workpiece
but you're unable to get the clamp to continue it's full range
of motion and lock down? Or do you mean that the movement
of the clamp is very stiff and hard to move? Those are the
only ways I can think of that a toggle clamp won't work. The
first two problems can be solved by just adjusting the height
of the threaded rod that the bumper is attached to. It might
take a little trial and error but it's really pretty simple. It it's
just too stiff then try lubricating the pivot points a little.

I've purchased some clamps from Harbor Freight that are
probably the least expensive toggle clamps available anywhere
and they work just fine. I can't imagine there being anything
defective with these unless they're homemade. Either that
or you're just pulling our leg to see how many responses you
can get. ;) Post a picture if you can.

Bruce
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Bruce, I assure you I am NOT pulling your leg! I will try again to post a picture. The toggles will turn over, adjusted to just touch the piece I want to hold, but they will not "click" or "lock". I'm guessing I have still not figured out how to adjust them, but believe me I have tried until my mind begins turning to jelly!! Now I'm guessing I am using the wrong sized clamp. I think I've bothered you guys enough with this, but I WILL try again to post pictures. Thanks to all.
 

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Anniedog

Looks like you have the clamp at max, the nut on the top should be about 1/2 down the bolt.
Use a smaller clamp or a thiner backup board or use 1/2 spacer under the clamp with sand paper on both sides of it then put the stock on top of it and then set your bit and then run your cut.

Bj :)
 

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One more quick note,unscrew the base of clamp and move it to the outside of backup board don't let it hang over, you want the rubber part on center of the stock that's getting cut.

Bj :)
 

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Anniedog

The snapshots should help, see below ▼
One picture is worth a 1000 words.


Bj :)
 

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Anniedog said:
Bruce, I assure you I am NOT pulling your leg! I will try again to post a picture. The toggles will turn over, adjusted to just touch the piece I want to hold, but they will not "click" or "lock". I'm guessing I have still not figured out how to adjust them, but believe me I have tried until my mind begins turning to jelly!! Now I'm guessing I am using the wrong sized clamp. I think I've bothered you guys enough with this, but I WILL try again to post pictures. Thanks to all.

I was just funnin' ya there, hence the ;) . But the photo's you
posted might explain the problem. As has been posted it looks like
you've maxed out the threaded shaft with the bumper on it. They
lock basically like a Vise Grip locks. They won't, "Click" unless there's
some resistance on them. You need to adjust them so that the rubber
bumper contacts the workpiece a little before the handle is to the
end of it's travel. I have one on a jig I use with different thicknesses
of wood and while it's sort of a pain to get the adjustment just right,
once you play with the depth a couple of times it will lock right down.
As Bobj3 said in his reply, you might need to use a thinner fence that
the clamp in mounted to in order to have enough thread to adjust.
If you don't want to remount the clamp you might try replacing the
bolt that the rubber bumper is on with a longer bolt. I can't tell by
looking at your picture but the few clamps that I have just use a
regular hex head bolt and the rubber bumper just slips over the head.
If you change the thickness of the workpiece frequently you may want
to replace the upper nut or wing nut with a plastic jig knob. They're
readily available from most woodworking stores and even most
hardware stores and big box stores carry some too. Just thread
the knob over the end of the bolt and spin it down to where you
need it. Then tighten the wing nut on the bottom of the clamp
while holding the top knob. I found this a little easier anyway. Mine
use a 1/4 20 threaded bolt. Easy to find just about anywhere.

I guess it's possible that the clamps were manufactured so poorly that
they're impossible to use, (hence the reason for the sale on Ebay) but
I can't imagine any company making such junk that they don't even
work at all but I suppose that's a possibility too. And I'm sure I speak
for everyone when I say that questions are always welcome if you're
having trouble. Isn't that what this forum is for?

Bruce
 

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Ok, seeing the pictures answers my questions. your clamps must be mounted no higher than your work surface or you will not have enough adjustment for secure clamping. A bit lower is better than too high. You loosen the two nuts and let the rubber bumper sit on your work surface. Turn the lower nut up to the bottom of the clamp arm. This is what controls the locking pressure. The upper nut is turned down to the arm so the rubber clamping pin lifts when the clamp is opened. When you try to lock down your wood if you do not have enough pressure to hold it securely you must loosen the top nut and raise the bottom nut. Raising the bottom nut increases locking pressure. Lowering it decreases the locking pressure. If you have the bottom nut as high as it can go and it is still not high enough to securely clamp your wood then your clamp is mounted too high and must be lowered. Remove a 1/4" from the mounting surface and try again.
 

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My experience with toggle clamps like that is that if the rubber boots that contact the workpiece are pretty thick, under pressure the part can slip around. I rarely use toggle clamps but if I were trying to make sleds like those, I might use clamps with hard rubber thin boots or even remove them and glue a hardwood block to the bolt so that I had solid clamping pressure between the clamp and the part I'm trying to hold down. The sandpaper on the bottom of the sled is a good idea as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Okay you guys. Thanks to you I now have successfully used toggle clamps. Each post helped me and especially the advice about HOW they do what they do and the note about not having them too much higher than the work piece.
I'm a Toggle Clampin' man from here on out! May mount one on the edge of my plate so I can hold down those tough steaks my wife buys! Thanks again group.
 

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Birch,
Your posting is encouraging, as I just picked up my first two toggle clamps at HF and haven't gotten the chance to try them out. I will refer back to this thread when I do since it helped you so much.
I just have one question about mounting one to the edge of your plate to hold down the tough steaks; would that be with or without sandpaper? hahaha! That comment was so funny I had to run into the living room and tell my husband what you said.
 
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