You can never have too many clamps

I’ve been beavering away at the cabinet that I said I’d make back at the end of June. I’m in the last stages of putting it together and tomorrow will be spent sanding. On Monday, it’s off to a professional spray painter’s for a two-pack polyurethane finish. Hopefully the unit will be completed by next Friday.

One of the reasons why it’s taken me two weeks to get this far is because I don’t have enough clamps. Sure, I’ve got lots of clamps but it never seems like I’ve got enough of the right size. I can only build so much before I run out of the right sized clamps and I have to stop.

So far the whole construction has been done with glue (a cross-linked PVA that sands back real nice), using biscuits, dowels, lap joints, mortise and tenons, plus tongue and groove.

Because I’ve had plywood veneered one side (it’s so damn expensive) with figured sycamore it has bowed the plywood a little which means I have to muscle it back into line with equal measures of brute force (sash clamps) and ignorance (a lump hammer).

you can never have too many clamps

The large black clamps in the foreground are sash clamps and they are good for exerting a lot of force on large items. Sash clamps are quite often used to join wood, side to side like on table tops. The red handled clamp on the left near the sash clamp is a pipe clamp and it’s basically a sash clamp as well but it has the advantage of being able to be twisted so you can clamp things in different directions (see the photo below). The down side to sash clamps is that they are quite heavy and bulky.

The smaller red handled clamps are F clamps and are usually used for smaller clamping jobs. It is possible to get large F clamps but they’re not very good because they bow when you tighten them right up which sometimes causes the joins to come apart. The big advantage of  F clamps is that they can be coarsely adjusted very quickly.

The yellow and green clamps are quick grips. Like the name suggests, quick clamps are very quick to use and have the advantage that they can be used with one hand. The down side of quick clamps is that they don’t exert much force which means that they are only really useful for holding things in place. I find quick clamps are great for holding the little blocks of scrap wood in place, that are used with the larger clamps to protect the item being made, while I’m getting the bigger and heavier clamps into place.

One of the things that’s been slowing progress down is that fact that I can only assemble one drawer a day. The glue I use shouldn’t be stressed for about 24 hours and because I’ve used dove tails joints (nice and tight),

if only I had more clamps

I have to use a fair bit of force to pull the drawers together so there are no gaps and when the clamps are taken off the wood springs back a little, stressing the glued areas. So I have to wait a day before I can do another drawer because I don’t have enough clamps. There will be eight drawers in the cabinet, which means eight days. 

By the way, the paper between to the scrap wood in the clamps is baking paper which I use because glue won’t stick to it.

Cooking and carpentry…. there is a cross over.

So, as you can see, I’ve been in a very wood-butcher head space lately and I haven’t been posting as much lately. Sorry about that but I’ve only got a week to go.

Now to glue another bloody drawer!

8 thoughts on “You can never have too many clamps”

  1. I don’t think I could make a bed. I had a bad upbringing I guess.
    You are like a President/Prime Minister in exile … making your own cabinet!

    I love the sentence:
    I have to muscle it back into line with equal measures of brute force (sash clamps) and ignorance (a lump hammer).

  2. Well, holy hell! I need Rosetta Stone to understand this language! Seriously, I have never heard of some of these clamps and tools. Razz, there is something about the first photo that made me laugh, and think of that exhibit I went to that I loved but had no freakin’ idea what the artist (Kristin Reynolds) was up to except I thought it had something to do with personality.

    Here’s the picture of it.

    http://singleforareason.wordpress.com/2008/06/18/personality-sculpture

    Do you think you could write about your photograph as if it was a self-portrait??

    So much fun to see this and think of you doing it.

  3. Interesting… Ignorance = Hammer
    I must remember that the next time some ignorant mongrel nearly runs into me turning a corner like yesterday because they are trying to manage the steering wheel with a mobile phone in the other hand. I will say Ignorant Mongrel & throw a hammer at them. Thanks for a great tip

  4. I’ve always admired anyone who could skillfully make things with wood. Even a well-crafted foot stool. I, however, struggled mightily in high school shop class. I guess it was all the cutting that got to me.

  5. Planetross

    Thanks for the title of the post when I finish it.

    Pat

    What I’m making is nothing like what my personality would look like in wood. What I’m making is far too linear and makes far too much sense. My personality would look more like the art work in your link and would be just about as useful.

    Tony

    Some people are like computers…. you have to punch information into them.

    Iheartfilm

    I hated woodwork at school. they wouldn’t let us use power tools and the tools were all blunt. It was almost like they were trying to turn us off woodworking.

    As for complexity, when I was studying photography (many years ago, in a galaxy far, far away) I remember being shown a magnified photo of a cross section of 400 ISO film that had 36 layers. I remember thinking, “I’ll never get my head around this”, but as each layer was explained and I realised that it was just a bunch of very small and simple operations that led to the sum of the total. Woodworking is like that. At first it seems like a huge complex task, but in fact it’s just a bunch of small and simple little actions.Planetross

    Thanks for the title of the post when I finish it.

    Pat

    What I’m making is nothing like what my personality would look like in wood. What I’m making is far too linear and makes far too much sense. My personality would look more like the art work in your link and would be just about as useful.

    Tony

    Some people are like computers…. you have to punch information into them.

    Iheartfilm

    I hated woodwork at school. they wouldn’t let us use power tools and the tools were all blunt. It was almost like they were trying to turn us off woodworking.

    As for complexity, when I was studying photography (many years ago, in a galaxy far, far away)in art college, I remember being shown a magnified photo of a cross section of 400 ISO film that had 36 layers. I remember thinking, “I’ll never get my head around this”, but as each layer was explained, I realised that it was just a bunch of very small and simple operations that led to the sum of the total. Woodworking is like that. At first it seems like a huge complex task, but in fact it’s just a bunch of small and simple little actions.

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