Sometimes I can have seven or eight panel glue-ups going at once. When that happens, my hands get pretty wet and slimy from all the water and wet glue. At times it makes it near impossible to get a grip on my wooden-handled clamps.
I’ve also taught many students who have a reduced grip – due to arthritis or some other malady – that prevents them from applying clamp pressure to even well-made joints.
Enter the wooden tommy bar.
Modeled after the metal tommy bar found on some C-clamps, this little dowel helps immensely with glue-ups. It’s pretty obvious how to do it: I bored a 1/2”-diameter hole about 1” away from the end of the clamp’s handle. Then I took a slightly oversized dowel and shaved most of it so it would drop into the hole and tighten up before it hit the bar of the clamp (I painted the narrow end of the dowel with red marker so I’d remember which end to stick in the hole).
At glue-up time I put the dowel through the hole and apply the required pressure. Then I remove the dowel and go to the next clamp. (You could make a dowel for each clamp if you prefer).
The tommy bar also helps release the clamp pressure when the threads of the clamp occasionally become locked up.
— Christopher Schwarz
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