A clamp rack

You cannot have enough clamps. Ever. And that means you cannot have enough clamp racks either. Unless you REALLY enjoy Mikado…

I do not have that many clamps. Yet. I do, however, have an armful of sash clamps with 140cm clamping capacity. Perfect for a round of shop mikado unless they get a rack to keep them organised. So let’s build one. Function over form on this one!

These puppies has served me well over the years. The rocking cradle, the work bench, the support table – they has been used a lot for big squeezes.

While working on the support table part 2, I got a bit of gash I was about to put in the burn pile, when I got an idea for a clamp rack. No faster said than done – if you stutter and talk veeery slow – I laid out the cut lines and cut the “fingerboards” (as which they shall henceforth be known) on the band saw. I tried two methods when doing this to find out which was fastest. For the first fingerboard, I cut the notches on the band saw, used the fret saw to remove most of the waste and then the chisel to chop the rest of the waste away, handcuff dovetail style. I then used the band exclusively. First I cut the slots, then I cut out most of the waste (with a 25mm / 1” blade on, so no narrow turns…). I then used the teeth of the blade to shave off the remaining waste.

To be honest, that was kind of a waste of time! I could’ve chopped the waste much faster with the chisel. Good to know – machines does not make certain things go any faster. Using hand tools are just as fast, but you might notice some damp areas developing on the body…

I rounded the fingers to make it easy to put the clamps in. Quick and dirty – it is a clamp holder, so no need to be too fancy about it. I used the Shinto saw rasp for this. It is a good tool, but for more detailed work like this – nah. That thing only works well if you want to round over a corner going along the grain. Across the grain on rather thin material like on the fingers here, it ain’t any good. A regular rasp would do a much better job. The Shinto snags in the gaps between the bent saw blade thingy’s it is made from, where as a regular rasp won’t. Other than that, a very good tool.

The rather soft pine gave in on me at a few places. Which proves that being lazy with the sharpening routine is a bad, bad thing… That, and fast grown pine. It’s a pine in the neck, really!

I then cut the rest of the parts and made stopped housing dadoes for the fingerboards. This makes the whole thing look a lot neater, and it gives some wiggle room on the fit of the parts.

Knife wall, chisel the brunt of the waste then router plane for finishing up. Done. Imagine the setup for using the power router for this?

Projects like this are great for practising techniques for future use. If you screw it up a bit, it is just a piece of shop infrastructure. No need to go fancy with it. Unless you want it fancy, of course. In this case, function trumps form by a long shot.

I cut a small strip that will be mounted underneath the top fingerboard for screwing the thing to the wall. I then glued and screwed everything together.

Two coats of white paint, and the rack is done.

Finally, order! There are even room for a few more clamps. There are even some space behind the topmost clamps for… something. Only time will tell what.

The clamps will be retrofitted as Paul Sellers does it, later on. It is very good clamps, but they do need to be a bit stiffer as they tend to bow quite a bit when tightened. I’ll also glue some cork pads to the jaws, as they can easily dent the wood when they are tightened.

These clamps works like a dream, but they do have one design flaw: the handles on the vise jaw. It is just a piece of metal rod with plastic caps slapped on. If you sneeze on them, the caps fall off – which makes the rod fall out. The best thing to do is to use a piece of duct tape, about 10mm wide and 5-8cm long, wrapped around the end of the rod. KISS* technology at its finest.

*KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

A quick and dirty approach – I did not spend time to make everything perfect and identical. I’ll get some experience using the rack, and if I find it necessary I will make some sort of support for the lower end of the clamps. I do not close the jaws on the clamps too much so that the clamps is fairly loose in their slots. This allows the clamp bar to move about should you bump it near the floor, without the jaws breaking or cracking the fingerboard.

I have had those clamps for a long time, and they have proven to be really good. In the image above, I’m glueing up birch panels for the rocking cradle I made for my first child. I think the panels are 5mm thick.

The clamp rack is certainly not a piece of fine furniture, but it is very functional. Does everything I want it to.

Sometimes, good enough is good enough. Especially when you find yourself in a bit of a squeeze…

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