The biggest obstacle I am facing...

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as a new woodworker is a severe lack of clamps. My entire clamp collection consists of 10-6" bar clamps, 6-12" quick clamps, 1-24" bar clamp, 1-Kreg clamp, 3-C clamps of various sizes, and a handfull of 1" and 2" spring clamps. It became really apparent today when I thought about gluing up the table I’m building. I can’t do it. I glued up one side with the 24", but will have to wait until tomorrow to glue up the other side. I didn’t like the idea of only using one clamp, but it does have the double fingers on one end and is holding square with a spanner piece on each side to distribute the pressure. I’ll have to get at least one 36" clamp tomorrow to do the front and back. I have no idea what I’m going to do about the table top. I certainly can’t afford to buy 24" bar clamps by the gross (or by the dozen for that matter). I do have a lot of ratchet straps though. I may have to get creative here. I have an idea, but it may have to wait until I get back home from my business trip next week.

So what do you do when you don’t have nearly enough clamps?

Where are the band-aids?---Pro Libertate!

You can always make cheap clamps using wedges, all thread (ready rod in Canada), Spanish windlasses, bungee cord, etc. you just need to be creative.

The early bird gets the worm but its the second mouse that gets the cheese.

I have been known to use 2 short clamps when I didn’t have one long enough to do the job. Just hook them together and tighten. It is somewhat awkward, but it got the job done.

-- Art

I have had the same problem. So for Christmas, fathers day, birthday etc… I leave a catalog open on right page with the clamps I want circled. The young one always run to mommy with the best gift for daddy because he saw it.
It worked great until last year where there was a note asking if I wanted something else on top of the clamp picture -:)

Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

Look at Lowe’s and Home Depot. Bessey is swapping ships and Lowe’s has been discounting all their Bessey clamps. Home Depot is discounting all their Irwin stock getting ready for Bessey. I’ve seen some pretty deep discounts at Home Depot in the last few days.

Artisan Woodworks of Texas-

You will find over time that there is always something else you need; right now it just happens to be clamps. I don’t disagree you need more, but consider buying a couple of pipe clamps. They aren’t in favor that much anymore, but really good projects were done for years and years with them prior to the invention of the current bar clamps. You can (I can’t believe I’m saying this) get a couple of the HF ones for maybe $5 each, and a couple of pieces of black pipe (or one piece and cut it in half) and have serviceable clamps. When I say serviceable, do not expect them to be Bessey’s….but they will squeeze a boards together….and serve you well until you can assemble the collection you really want.

"I long for the day when coke was a cola and a joint was a bad place to be" Merle Haggartd

I really like the Bessey pipe clamps. They stand off the bench or floor. They have rubber covers on the clamping parts. They are very strong. I can switch out different lengths of black 3/4" pipes depending on the size of the project, and they store nicely on a shelf on the garage wall. The machining of the threads makes them a joy to use. Often it’s the little things that make a project great.

There are several online tutorials on making home made clamps. Many without the need for threaded rod..

Old Guy Loves Teaching

I’ll second the pipe clamps. You can buy a pair of clamps and have several lengths of pipe for different size projects. Bar clamps are nice because they are easy to adjust and use, but pipe clamps are very versatile.



Thanks for the info folks! My FIL gave me five 36" bar clamps Friday afternoon. They’re not Bessey quality, but the price was right and they will be a big help. His woodworking is strictly limited to scroll saw craft stuff. He bought the clamps at a yard sale for $15 and they have been laying in his garage ever since. There is a huge flea market about 1-1/2 hours from me. I plan to make a trip up there pretty soon and look around. It’s only open on Fridays, so I have to take a day off from work to go.

Where are the band-aids?---Pro Libertate!

1 vote for harbor freight. Expect 25% to break but they’re so cheap that they’re easy to replace. Over time I think I picked up over 30 clamps of various sizes for maybe $200. About 1/3 of that cost went to six 5’ bar clamps I needed for a 4’ wide sliding door. They have served me well.

Losing fingers since 1969