Making a Bar Clamp

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKbOO4hLri8 I love my clamps! But these old wooden beam clamps are extremely hard to find. So it was time to make my own.

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These were from a hardware kit I got from Wild Man Tech and he has a video out on how to make your own here. https://youtu.be/ZC49owEFePc

The beams and handles were made from Oak, and the pads on the jaws were made from pine.

Materials needed

Oak for beam = cut to whatever length clamp you desire. (strait clean grain if possible) Oak oak for handle = 1 ¼” X 1 ¼” X 4 ½” “can be laminated”

Soft pine for Jaw pads = two pads needed 1 ½” X 1 ¼” X ¾”

#4 ¾” brass flat head screws = 4 per clamp : http://amzn.to/2gm1r7Z

#7 1 ¼” Brass Flat head screw = one per clamp : http://amzn.to/2goYvwr

Boiled Linseed Oil: http://amzn.to/2hiFSaC

Past wax finish: http://amzn.to/2hiJ99K

5 minute epoxy: http://amzn.to/2gM8ub8

Tools needed

Hand plane: http://amzn.to/2gm021g

Hand saw: http://amzn.to/2hiE8ON

Drill bit set: http://amzn.to/2hiye06

Brace or drill: http://amzn.to/2gpbDl4

¼” Chisel: http://amzn.to/2gMaUXw

Awl: http://amzn.to/2hiDSix

File set: http://amzn.to/2hgh19R

Building the handles

First, print off a pattern of an octagon that is sized to your desired width. For me that is 1 ¼” but others like larger and smaller. Trace the pattern on both ends of the handle stock so that it is aligned with two sides. This way those sides do not need to be planned to dimension.

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Next, place the blank in a vice with one flat side of the pattern up. Then use the plane to take that side down to the line. Repeat this on all sides to give the handle the desired shape. I find it easier to cut it to length after shaping the octagon rather than before, but you may find different.

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Next, place the blank in a vice and use the plane to chamfer the corners on either end. This will make it feel better in the hand.

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Last, on the handle, you can drill out the hole in the center of the blank to fit the bolt on your hardware. Mine was a 15/32” and 4” deep.

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Building the Beam

The dimensions of the beam will be determined by the hardware you have and your desired length. I made mine 48” long and ⅞” X 1 ⅞” this fit perfectly inside the hardware of the clamp. 

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Use the hand saw and plane to bring the board to desired dimensions. Here is a video on how to do that. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioOOWGqe_LA

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The sliding Jaw on the clamp needs a notch in the back of the beam to catch. Mine needed a notch ¼” by ¼”. I spaced them 3” apart all along the beam except for where the screw hardware is attached at one end. After laying them out I used the hand saw to cut either side of the slot and a ¼” chisel to remove the waste. I left these a bit large to make the hardware slide in and out easily.

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Making the Pads for the Jaws

I used Pine cut to the size of the faces on my jaws. Mine were 1 ¼” X 1 ½” but you will want to make them to the size of your jaws. I use the hand saw to cut them all to shape at the bench.

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Next, up you will need to pre-drill all the holes. I use an Awl to mark the holes through the hardware then use the brace and drill bit to drill out the holes for mounting the hardware.

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Finnish and Assembly

For all the oak wood I finish it with Boiled linseed Oil and Paste wax. This will help seal and protect the wood from glue squeeze out. But I do occasionally (1-2 times a year) reapply the paste wax to help with glue removal. Here is more information on the finishing method. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvSvmOwmNV8

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The handles are glued in place with 5-minute epoxy. After the shaft of the screw is roughened up with a file or sandpaper.

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Last, the hardware and jaw pads are attached with brass screws. And there you go. A functional clamp.

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There are cheaper methods, but I have not found ones that have been as satisfying to use. And I have a pile of these on my wall that are all a joy to use. They make the glue up process to be a fun one.

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