Make your own light-duty one-handed workholding wonders.
by Donald C. Williams
Like most workshops, mine is well-populated with spring clamps, the ubiquitous tool for applying localized pressure with one hand while holding the workpiece (or workpieces) with the other. But one of the most intractable problems is the need for either gentle holding pressure or a much greater throat depth than the spring clamp provides.
Yes, spring clamps come in large sizes with deeper throats, but using them is hardly what I would call a one-handed operation. Many times all I need is for the clamp to gently keep things in contact or alignment, sometimes over a comparatively long distance; that requires a significant throat depth.
I recently built a set of clamps that performs this function wonderfully. They can be made from a variety of materials to an almost infinite set of variations.
These simple tools are built on the long-standing principles employed in a wide variety of clamping devices old and new. In the case of the ancient holdfast, the arm and the shaft are united, and the binding occurs when the shaft is driven down into a hole in the workbench. On (the much newer) F-style clamps, the movable jaws bind against the shaft, with the force augmented by contact pads that are moved by screws or cam levers.
Blog: Read the author’s blog and see more of his work.
Blog: Get a behind-the-scenes look at the author’s work at the Smithsonian Institution.
In Our Store: “Creating Historic Furniture Finishes,” by Don Williams. Available as DVD and download.
In Our Store: “Simple Parquetry Techniques,” by Don Williams. Available as DVD and download.
From the December 2016 issue, #229