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Box Cleats


My workbench project is now underway, but I’m going to avoid showing any detail or videos on the build process until it’s finished. However, I will be posting some of the methods I adopt that translate more broadly into other applications.

With that in mind I needed to laminate 2x4s together to make the legs. I could of reverted to the many clamps we have in our workshop – but decided to try out a simple solution I had seen in my joinery books, namely box cleats.

The photos really do tell the story but a box cleat is simply a robust frame that allows folding wedges to exert clamping forces onto the wood. They can be, and were, sized to suit the application. If the cleat is used regularly it would also have its joint reinforced with metal straps.

I made mine from 2″ x 3″ stud material and they worked very well. It minimized the amount of proprietary clamps I would need to invest in, meaning more funds for books and wood!

Box Cleats

It’s also a good way to practice sawing, nailing and chiseling. I just worked to pencil lines and aimed to get the work done at a good pace. I think there is much to be said for making these types of projects when starting out. It’s not unusual to read of peoples frustrations as they try to gain the skills needed to make quite fine projects. My thoughts are: Get used to cutting some stud material, drive a few nails and get a feel for the process.

I hope this simple clamp will encourage you to review simple and effective methods contained within the pages of an old book.

— Graham Haydon

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Showing 17 comments
  • KnotBuster

    Another fun little project built with accessible materials and hand tools! Despite your pedigree as a joiner, you offer the refreshing perspective that woodworking can be approached and enjoyed as a “cheap and cheerful” activity. Thanks for that.

  • TLM80209

    As I build my clamp arsenal, this is a welcome remedy to my daily conundrum.

  • pmac

    …”I needed to laminate 2x4s together to make the legs.”…

    Based on the pics of what is being glued up, that’s a pretty short bench you’re making.

  • Bill Lattanzio

    I’ll tell you what, you English joiners are quite clever. I know, you’ll say that you are only following in the footsteps of those who trod before you. But understanding which footsteps lead to the other side and which footsteps lead you into a mine field separates a clever man from a fool, or something like that.

  • gsuing

    Pet peeve – could of –> could’ve

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