Everyone can always use another clamp. I am no exception to that observation. So I decided to try and make a few (bar clamps specifically). There are several Instructables and DIY clamps online but they were predominately wooden construction, had full-length threaded rods, or required welding. The following steps are my attempt at making a version that required few special tools or equipment, used easily purchased materials, and avoided the previously mentioned items. Hopefully the pictures and video will be a valuable help in illustrating some of the steps I am trying to explain. Enjoy!
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Step 1: Tools and Supplies Needed
- Drill (drill press would be nice)
- Chop Saw (or anything that can cut thin square tubing)
- Screw driver
- Basic wrenches
- 16 gauge 1"x1" steel square tubing
- Sheet metal for joint reinforcement. (I used 16 guage steel)
- Wood (any hardwood will do, I used some leftover sassafras from this project)
- Thread locker
- 3/8-16 Nylon Insert Hex Lock Nuts
- #6 x 3/4" Flat Head Phillips Wood Screw
- #8-32 X 1-1/2" Stainless Pan Head Phillips Machine Screws
- Steel Flat Washer, No. 8 Screw Size, 3/16" ID
- Steel Hex Bolt, 4" Length, Fully Threaded, 3/8"-16 Threads
- 4 Pronged Zinc Plated Tee T-Nut (3/8"-16 x 7/16")
- Five Arm (Star) Knob With Threaded Hole, 3/8"-16 Thread
- #8-32 Nylon Insert Hex Lock Nuts, Stainless Steel 18-8
- 1/2" Steel Sheet Metal Screw, Hex Head, #14 Threads
Nearly everything listed can be interchanged with something similar. Use what you already have or whatever tool gets the job done.
Step 2: Constructing the Bar
Cut your 1"x1" steel square tubing to the desired length of your clamp. Remember that the head jaw and back jaw take up space on the length of the bar so add several inches to make up for that space. Next use a file or grinding wheel to deburr the ends. If you really want to, you could cap the ends. I left mine open.
We now need to drill holes on the underside of the bar for our 1/2" hex screws. These will act as the stoppers that hold the back jaw in place after it is moved into position and the clamp is being tightened. The holes for the hex screws need to be smaller than the screw itself giving the threads some metal to grip on to so they don't rotate or come out. I spaced my hex screws at 3/4" apart. These could be spaced more or less depending on the distance of travel of your head jaw bolt (my distance of travel was 1", I used a 3.75" bolt for my handle I would recommend longer probably 4").
I wiped off all the grease and metal shavings and gave the tubing a finish of Rust-Oleum. After that dries, insert the 1/2" hex screws. Tighten the screws and rotate the hex head so that a flat edge is perpendicular with the length of the bar. Make sure not to over-rotate and strip the inner threads causing the screws to be loose.
Step 3: Making the Head Jaw.
The head jaw is the stationary end that will contain our tightening knob and bolt. The main body will be a small block of wood approximately 1"x1.75"x2". The size can vary depending on what type of knob and bolts that you buy. After the block is cut (I used a jigsaw) a hole needs to be drilled through the center (of the 1"x2" face) so a 3/8" T-nut can be inserted on each side to guide our 3/8" bolt through the wooden block.
Next cut two sheet steel plates which will be used to reinforce and attached the wooden block to your bar. I made mine the same width as the wooden block but made it an inch longer to reach down over the sides of the bar (1.75"x3"). I used a light enough gauge metal so that I could cut these with my jigsaw using a metal cutting blade. After you deburr the edges, place one steel plate on each side of your bar and sandwich the wooden block in between.
Step 4: Attaching the Head Jaw
Place the steel plates on either side with the wooden block and bar in the middle. Drill holes for your machine screws. I put two through the bar and two through the wooden block (one above the bolt channel and one below). Insert your machines screws and tighten on the nuts.
To finish up this step, screw the 3/8" bolt through the t-nuts and thread the star knob on the end of the bolt. Add some thread locker to secure the knob to the bolt.
Step 5: Making the Back Jaw
The back jaw will be the movable piece that you butt up against the part that you want to clamp. This will require a wooden block 1.5"x1.5"x1" and two pieces of sheet metal that will guide the movement (see the pictures for dimensions). After cutting the sheet metal plates and wooden block, drill a hole through the plates and block to secure them to one another. Drill another hole through one side of the metal plate/block to insert a small wood screw. The wood screw will keep the block from rotating (no need to use another machine screw and nut). Next drill a hole through the furthest corner of the metal plates for another machine screw, nut and washers. This screw is what will catch and hold the jaw to the hex screws on the underside of the bar when pressure is applied.
Step 6: You're Done!
Now put it to use! Clamp something up!
Make one and post a picture using the I Made It feature. Add suggestions for improvement, ask me questions, and comment.
I experimented with different heads for the end of the tightening bolt but thought the bare 3/8" bolt head worked the best. I did sand down it to make it smooth. If you have any suggestions on how to improve that portion, leave a comment.
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