I recently was gifted a few old bar clamps from a fellow member who belongs to our local FreeCycle group. FreeCycle.org is an internet-based group that promotes the free exchange of items and supplies among its members. Everybody can join the site and post “I want to give for free” ads or “I am looking for..” ads. Over the years I donated many items that I did not need any more, and on occasions, I picked up unwanted tools and hardware whose owners wanted to depart with. This free marketplace is a great infrastructure that reduces waste and saves many great used (or even new) items from ending up in the landfill.
Unfortunately, two of the clamps that were given to me were pad less. This is a common “feature” with old clamps which I am sure most of you have noticed. By the way, even new clamps can lose their caps over time and their owners are left out with a terrible predicament. Luckily there is a solution. McMaster-Carr (search for Swiveling Pads for C-Clamps) is a fantastic hardware and tool distributor that has replacement pads for your crippled clamps. To find out which pad to buy you’ll have to determine what is the diameter of the ball at the end of the screw. Use a caliper and measure the diameter of the ball, then look for a matching pad that can accommodate that ball.
Once I got the pads I greased the ball and pressed the pad over it by turning the screw and advancing the ball into it against the moving jaw. The new pad is very solid and will last for many years to come.