Tag Archives: mortice and tenon

Homemade Wood Clamps

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I made these clamps for layout work as a direct result of my adventure making shoji for the first time. I have plenty of your typical screw type wood clamp, but they’re cumbersome and heavy if you only need moderate pressure to hold a few pieces together for marking. Doesn’t it also hurt badly when you hit a metal clamp while cutting with your expensive Japanese saw? Well, these clamps excel at holding kumiko together to cut the joinery. They may not be quite as nice as the fine little brass clamps you can get from Japan, but as many as are needed, in whatever size, can be made for almost no cost for the wood.

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The construction was very straight forward. The beams I made from oak, the braces with the mortices are from walnut. The beams are 1/2″ x 3/4″, by whatever length is needed secured. I’ve made a couple sets of these in different sizes: 6″, 12″, 24″. A hole is drilled in the sliding brace for a pin, and then that same hole is used to pilot holes into the beam every 1/2″. The braces measure 1″ square, with an inch of clamping surface below the beam. You can basically prepare your brace lumber in sections about 12″-16″ long, lay out many at the same time, and drill and tap the hole for the wood screw as well as cut the mortices before cutting the braces to length. A 1/2″ thread box and tap was used to cut the wood threads, in this case from maple. A bit of fitting was required to get a good fit for the brace that carries the wood screw, but allow the other two pieces to slide easily upon the beam. An oak pin and a couple lengths of 1/8″ steel rod finish things off.

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Here I’ve put them to use for a bit of assembly work gluing up the bridal slip joints on a cabinet door.  Using tools you’ve made to make other stuff is its own special kind of satisfaction. I’ll never buy another wood clamp if I can help it. Its a load off my mind not to have to find the money for sets of parallel bar clamps. And sure, you can’t be using these clamps to pull the twist out of a 2×4. If you need that much clamping pressure you probably did something wrong, and may I then offer you my commander timber framing mallet?