6 Tips to Have You Clamping Your Projects Like A Pro
written by Chelsea Rodgers
It’s no secret that DIYers put all their heart and soul in their projects. You want these projects to last, not to fall apart as time as time passes. One area that can literally make or break a project is the strength of the joints. It’s important to use the right amount of glue and the right amount of pressure to create a strong joint.
Clamping might seem like a no-brainer but it’s a little more complex than you would think. Do you know the best position for clamps? What about how many clamps you need to use? Not quite sure? We put together these 6 tips to have you clamping like the pros in no time.
1. Glue Is The Muscle Behind Every Strong Joint.
Creating a strong joint between pieces of wood begins with selecting a quality wood glue like the Super T Adhesive (MLCS item# 447-6020 & #447-630). Once you have the right glue, you need to apply the right amount of glue.
Super T Adhesive
(MLCS item# 447-6020 & #447-630)
You want to have a little glue squeeze out of the joint. This means that there is ample glue between the pieces and when dried it will provide a tight bond. If you don’t have the “squeeze out” of glue, you then could have a weak or “dry joint” that will break over time. Apply glue from the glue bottle, then use a glue spreader like the ones in our 6 Piece Set (MLCS item #9962) to apply an even amount of glue over the workpiece
Glue Spreader 6 Piece Set
(MLCS item #9962)
2. Clamping Science
After you apply the proper amount of glue you need to bring those joints together. Here is where the clamp comes in. When you use a clamp, like the Versatile Bar Clamp (MLCS item #9921-9923), it exerts force in a 45 degree angle to the left and to the right from where the clamp contacts the wood. The clamps should be placed, so the same amount of force is being applied along the entire workpiece.
3. Where to Position the Clamps
Like we mentioned in tip number 2, clamps apply pressure at 45 degree angles from the clamp contact point. You should clamp. The best way is to alternate your clamps from top to bottom. This configuration will apply equal force along the workpiece and at the top and bottom of the workpiece ensuring a strong joint. Look at the image below for a better understanding.
4. How Many Clamps Do You Need?
Remember the saying, “You can never have enough clamps.” So how many clamps do you really need? Here’s what I suggest: two 4″ bar clamps, two 6″ bar clamps, two 12″ bar clamps, and five to six 24″ bar clamps. Now we’re not saying to go out and buy all these clamps at once. But over time, you should have a similar clamp collection. If you’re looking for a one stop shop when it comes to clamps, then you want our extremely versatile Merle Band Clamp (MLCS item #9012), with almost no capacity limitations.
Merle Band Clamp
(MLCS item #9012)
5. Clamping Cauls
Clamping cauls or the Magnetic Non-Marring Aluminum Vise Jaws (item # 9701-9703) and The Aluminum Vise V-Jaws (MLCS item #9704-9706) serve two purposes. First, they help the clamps exert equal pressure along the workpiece. They also protect the workpiece from being damaged by the clamp.
Magnetic Non-Marring. Aluminum Vise V-Jaws
Aluminum Vise Jaws (MLCS item #9704-9706)
(item # 9701-9703)
6. Clamping and Gluing Butt Joints
Some have the opinion that gluing butt joints is a waste of glue. We talked about butt joints in our post Wood Joints: When To Use Them. Imagine applying glue to top end of a piece of wood while you’re holding it vertically. What would happen to the glue? That’s right, the glue is going to just drip down that piece of wood.
That’s basically what happens when you apply glue to end grain and why it raises the question if you should even bother applying glue to end grain. If you apply glue to butt joints, it prevents the “drip down.” After the glue is applied, the joint is clamped using a bar clamp or we like the Can-do-Clamp (MLCS #9001) for projects like these. Then you drive in a pocket screw using a drill.
Now we’re not saying that these above tips are the only right way to clamp your projects. These are just some tips that can help make the clamping process a little easier and last a whole lot longer.