Shop Made Hand Screws Clamps & Vises
I’ve always wanted some hand screw clamps but never had any, for the simple reason that I wanted to make them and not buy them. So many times I planned to get started on making one, but got sidetracked on other projects. Recently, I found some time to begin work on a few to have around the shop. They are made with commonly available materials and are fairly easy to build.
This is part one of four videos covering many of the build details:
The problem I had in previous design attempts was what to make the barrel nuts from. Looking around my workshop, I saw that ordinary steel pipe (the type used for pipe clamps) would be a pretty good option.
I laid out eight barrel nuts and marked for pilot holes, double sided taped it down to a v-block and drilled through with a 3/16″ bit:
I then enlarged the holes to 11/32″. 11/32″ is slightly oversized for a 3/8″ tap, but still giving good thread depth:
I ground a flat spot on the side of the tap so that it would not spin around in the drills chuck. I do this with every tap I own, since I don’t use anything other than the drill to tap holes. A little oil on the tap makes it work a lot better.
I’m holding the drill as vertically as possible, and run the tap through both walls of the pipe:
Four of the eight barrel nuts get 3/8″ threading, while four others are drilled out larger. Here I’m using a step drill to do this and checking to make sure the 3/8″ threaded rod slips easily through the hole.
With the holes finished, I mark the nuts for cutting. A good way to draw a straight line around the pipe is to drill a hole through a piece of wood and use that as a guide:
Cutting the nuts to length with a zipcut blade in the grinder.
And cleaning up the cut at the belt sander platform. It’s a good idea to get rid of the sharp edges. I used a round file to clean out the inside as well:
Cutting the wood down to size for the jaws. I’m using regular framing lumber – spruce 2″ x 6″ that has been drying for a while in my shop. This is a good choice, I believe, as it is low cost and easy to work. Traditionally, these clamps are made with hardwood, but I think that softwood will perform well for the duties this clamp will have.:
The wood, cut down to 1″ thick, ready for planning. A few passes through the thickness planer bring it down to 7/8″ thick.
These are then cut to the finished length of 14″, trimmed to 2-1/4″ wide and screwed together in pairs. Each jaw is made up of two pieces that will be glued together later. For now, the screws hold them temporarily for the machining operations.
Laying out where to drill the holes, I’m squaring a line around each jaw:
This gives me hole locations on all four faces, so that the jaw can be accurately drilled.
Here, I’m drilling the 3/4″ holes half way through the edge. These are clearance slots for the nutted barrel nut (double 3/8″ nuts on both sides of the barrel nut) to allow it to swing in an arc:
The other location is drilled with a 1/2″ bit.
Then the 7/8″ holes are drilled for each barrel nut:
The tip is cut on the band saw, and smoothed on the disk sander.
The slots are cleaned out with a chisel:
And I start assembly:
The two halves of the jaw are glued together around the barrel nuts and clamped tight. Yes, homemade clamps for homemade clamps!
The handle is made in two pieces, to clamp tightly to the threaded rod. I’m using polyurethane construction adhesive to hold the handle on and glue it together.
The assembled clamp, sanded and ready for some finish:
I went with garnet shellac to give the clamps some colour, so they would stand out better in my shop. Two brushed on coats gives it some protection as well.