Wednesday 7 November 2012

Low-Buck Tools: 5 Minute Clamps

"There you go pulling me right back in..."

  As we transition from boating season to boatbuilding season, one realizes that one never has enough clamps.   Further, if one is like your humble scribbler, one does not realize one is short of clamps until one runs out.

As the epoxy or glue is starting to set.

At midnight.

So, here's a quick and easy recipe for cheap  gluing clamps. I'd like to take credit for this one, but  I picked this up from Don Casey or WoodenBoat magazine or West System's Epoxyworks magazine.  One of those smarter-than-me sources.

Pick up some ABS and/or PVC pipe  in the diameter you like- 2", 4", 6", whatever.  Hell, get a variety of diameters and wall thicknesses.  $20 will buy you enough for 20-30 clamps.

Better yet, drive through a subdivision under construction with a six pack of cheap beer.  Stop at a house with a plumber's truck out front.  Offer to trade beer for pipe offcuts.  You'll get lots, already cut to convenient lengths, and a hardworking guy gets beer, and less garbage goes to a landfill.


Take your pipe home, and split it down the middle.  I set the fence on my table saw to the radius (half the diameter, for you non-math types.  Diameter is the measurement across the center of the pipe, for you really non-math types. ) of the pipe, crank the blade up just high enough to cut through the wall of the tubing,

... and rip a split down the length of the tube.

On larger diameter tubes I cross cut the tube using my table saw.  Set the fence to cut 1-2" wide slices of tube.

I cut smaller diameter tube on my miter saw, with a block of wood clamped as a stop at the desired  thickness.

Sand any rough edges, and boom, you're done.

Thicker wall tube provides more clamping power.  Thinner wall tubes are easier to manipulate single-handed.

Now go build something!

"Talk the Dock!"


  1. Slick. Something so simple and so effective.

  2. if one is like your humble scribbler, one oetiker clamps does not realize one is short of clamps until one runs out.