Clamp It Extra Deep

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Grainger C-clampThe C-clamps hanging on your garage walls with 16d nails or snuggled between the 2 x 4 framing sitting on fire blocks collecting cobwebs can be a dude’s best friend.  Let’s say you’re working on a project that lies flat on your table and is too wide to get enough pressure in the middle to hold it down nice and secure to the table. Your woodworking clamps won’t reach far enough to suck it down for whatever operation you want to do. Be it dadoing, rabbeting, gluing, or drilling shelf holes, you need your work to be tight to the table to prevent misalignment and ultimate chaos in the machining or gluing process. Using cawls and clamps at each end, you can get your pieces flat and snug to each other to get even pressure for machining or gluing. 

Wide Boards Laminated – Stronger Than The Sum Of Their Parts

But let’s say you’re laminating wide boards together.  You need to reach to the middle, and the extra deep C-clamp fills the bill. Two pieces of ¾ material, let’s say two 1 x 8’s glued together are stronger and more stable than a 2 x 8 of the same material. Also if you reverse the grain directions, bowing tendencies will equalize each other when glued up properly. Laminating two pieces of ¾ wood together to make a stable 1-1/2 thick piece of wood means having even pressure at the edges and in the middle, so this is where that extra reach of the deep C-clamp makes a difference.

C-Clamps Can Have Tee Handles or a Vise Grip

There are some different ways to do this. A C-clamp can be drop forged steel with gnarly tee handles to really crank the hell out of it, or a vise grip model that can reach deep but maybe doesn’t apply as much pressure as you need. Vise grips are only as strong as your grip, and in my case that’s been going in reverse for a few years now. Not that I couldn’t crank it up a notch.  In fact what I’m really afraid of is breaking the vise grip, that’s just the kinda guy I am.

The old school deep clamps are still available at the most non-woodworking place ever, and that would be at Grainger.

Grizzly extra deep C-clampThe newbie on the market is an aluminum based clamp with a 1-1/2” clamping capacity with a 6” throw.  It’s marketed at as an extra deep C-clamp with ribbed construction and thick casting.  This makes it light and durable.  But with a plastic knob?  I don’t see how you could crank this baby up with the pressure like you can give with a tee-handle.

I’m not so sure this last model will have so much usefulness.  To me a 1-1/2” clamping capacity is like telling your wife you can’t get up from the couch to get the remote because it’s too far away! C’mon!!!  Gimmee the tee-handled heavy duty monster that can clamp up to 8”-10” thick stock with the same reach, and have room to spare. Now that’s as smart as getting the remote yourself – makes for more happiness, and less extra work later!

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About Brad

Brad Baker is Vice President of Operations at Miller Woodworking in the Los Angeles area, designers and builders of custom cabinetry and interior millwork for the rich and famous. They make the impossible, and their work has been featured in fancy schmantsy architectural glossies more than a few times. All that high end creative stuff aside, he maintains a strong spiritual belief that the real sign of a good woodworker is all 10 fingers. He and his wife Ann Baker co-write for HomeFixated. Ann is CEO of Publicity Pros, a firm that provides “All Things Publicity” services and training for small businesses. She’s a hopeless nerd who revels in anything and everything having to do with the technology of attracting attention. And, no joke, she loves to bake.

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3 thoughts on “Clamp It Extra Deep”

  1. I made some clamps from 2×2 material (2 pieces equal length) a couple carriage bolts, washers and wing nuts. During lamination these can be positioned at each end and down the center. With the use of cauls they make excellent clamps that can be sized according to your need. Made others using tapered “shims” that can be used for end clamping. These are shaped like a T with the top of the T pivoting. The taperedpieces get tapped into place until square. Work really well.

  2. Oddly enough I”m missing C-clamps and some of the other basics (this will only last as long as I haven’t taken on anything that requires some of these C-clamp basics). Oddly enough though I’ve acquired quite a few Kreg clamps for drilling pocket holes. Some Irwin quickgrip clamps in various sizes. And some miter clamps (little pointy spring steel things that are evil on your fingers, awesome on your wood, er… door casing miter joints). And soon I’ll have some rather large pipe clamps as I have to glue up two pieces of countertop into one double-wide wooden countertop, it’s like a double-wide trailer, but classier. Should be “fun”.


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