Introduction: Homemade Clamps From Plastic Pipe

Picture of Homemade Clamps From Plastic Pipe

You can never have enough clamps, especially when building a boat.
Here's Platt Monfort's method of making your own from plastic pipe.

Step 1: Get a Big Pipe and Cut a Bunch of Rings

Picture of Get a Big Pipe and Cut a Bunch of Rings

Any plastic pipe will work. This is black ABS. Polypro would be nice. Never use PVC for anything. Get the size and thickness of pipe to match your clamping needs. Cut the rings wide enough to give you the clamping force you need and so you can spread the clamp with your hands.

Step 2: Cut Through the Ring in One Place

Picture of Cut Through the Ring in One Place

Use whatever kind of saw you like.

Step 3: Make a Big Chain, Wear It, Goof Off.

Picture of Make a Big Chain, Wear It, Goof Off.

Link all your springy clamps together and go around wailing "I forged it link... By... Link...."

Step 4: Get More Force With Rubberbands

Picture of Get More Force With Rubberbands

To use it, just spread the jaws and clamp it onto your workpiece. To get more force, wrap some rubberbands around it. That's a bright idea from Numberandom

Step 5: Clamp Happy

Picture of Clamp Happy

You'll never run out of clamps again! Even a cockpit coaming is easy. That's a "Pax 20" kayak kit from CLC boats.

Step 6: The Finished Thing

Picture of The Finished Thing

You'd never guess what would come from under that forest of clamps.
A few hours after gluing, the clamps come off, and after a little sanding and a coat of epoxy,
here's the finished cockpit ring. Oohh! Ahhh!


Cassandraw (author)2015-09-22


Demokr (author)2006-10-17

Or drill two holed into the pipe, top and bottom and put a long screw through the center and then use a fly nut to tighten the grip.

\_/ <--Fly Screw (not quite sure if thats what you call them...)
| <---Love screw

/ | \
| | <---Pipe clamp

*Sorry for the crued illustration.

Tool Using Animal (author)Demokr2006-10-17

My people call them wingnuts. I did this with PVC pipe to attach the gunwale of my cedar canoe, allow me to simulate the stupidity of cutting pvc with a tablesaw Buzzzzzz!! *PING* Whossh, whoosh ThunK! AAAAIIIEEEEEE!!! Call 911

bat159 (author)Tool Using Animal2014-05-07

I usually just use a chop saw with the blade reversed and cut slow.

I've cut PVC with a number of different saws, and I know what you mean about table saws being a bit scary. However, if you approach it carefully, it will work fine. The main thing to remember is NOT to cut plastic pipe like you cut wood on a tablesaw. The best way I've found is to slowly move the pipe up toward the spinning blade, and when it's cut thru the surface of the pipe, don't move the pipe any further -- instead, just slowly rotate the pipe until the whole circumference is cut through. I've also done it by nailing a couple of pieces of scrap 2x4, a foot or so long, together at the edges to form a 90-degree angle. Place it over the pipe and hold onto it instead of the plastic pipe. All this extra mass (weight) makes it harder for the saw to "get control over the pipe." The advantage of the tablesaw over hacksaws, etc., is that you get a neat, clean 90-degree cut. Sometimes this is important, sometimes not, but trying to get that from a hacksaw is very tough. Using a miter box with a backsaw or hacksaw might work, though I've never tried it.

ilpug (author)2012-01-20

Damn. Genius idea.

gemtree (author)2010-12-05


pfdanielson (author)2010-11-19

if you clamp a piece of wood to the miter fence, you can create a stop for the pipe. It's good if you want to make a lot of them the same size. We did this in tech class at school, we made about 50 of them!

Tinworm (author)2010-09-28

incidentally, the bike made with your clamps was by Long Toe

Tinworm (author)2010-09-28

I see that AT used PVC sucessfully, so can I ask why you think it should not be used?

I think your idea is BRILLIANT! It is completely inspired! I saw it first on an instructable for a bentwood bike and thought it was great

Cheiron (author)2006-10-16

great idea, I had never thought of this but it is a great way to get cheap clamps. Especially when you need a lot of clamps. One little suggestion I would suspect that the rubberbands could slip off, if that does become a problem you might try screwing in 2 pieces of scrap wood on top and bottom, maybe some 2x2's or a 1x4 cut down to a 1x2 or something like that on either side of the rubberband, on top and bottom and just screw the wood down to the pipe with some 1/2' self tapping screws. Just a suggestion. Good instructable.

Kenmeister (author)Cheiron2009-07-08

love the idea i'm working on drum-mic-clamps for the moment and this will reduce cost and work dramatically!

hypokampito (author)2008-10-13

Hi Tim, good one!.
I thought the same system, but with another function: as a hook to keep a rope. (Check it out at
Nice, effective and simple!!


AT (author)2008-07-04

I remembered seeing this and today needed to come up with a way to keep the table cloth on the picnic table. I remembered this instructable and made six clamps out of some PVC I happened to have around.

Mr. Rig It (author)2007-09-05

Me Likey! Great idea. Now to go pull some of the neighbors pipe out of the ground and make some clamps (long evil laugh).

p1pe (author)2007-03-21

Neat. I need this for holding down rolled aluminum for layout work.

mud_dann (author)2007-02-24

wow.....this is absolutely genius.....i can imagine doing wonderful things with these homemade clamps...good job!

Chowlee (author)2007-02-03

Great Site! Great Ideas...all. Like the wing nut idea. To hold rubber bands easy, Drill 1/2" holes before cutting pipe. Cuts would split holes in half creating notches for the bands to hold in. knock of edges with file so they won't split bands.

bloodymess (author)2006-11-06

that's a simple but quite brilliant idea!

stone3408 (author)2006-10-22

If you constructed them on a smaller scale you could use them as helping hands for soldering. A small hole drilled in the section of pipe prior to cutting the "jaws" of the clamp would allow for grabbing wire more easily.

titaniumfrog (author)2006-10-17

very nice job on the kayak by the way.

rickdog (author)2006-10-17

Also great for difficult clamping needs are long strips of innertube (tractor or truck is the best). Cut a used tube into long lengths 2-3" wide, and wind them around your object. This can create immense force if wound enought times. It's great for gluing together broken chairs and for other complex situations.

rickharris (author)2006-10-17 Check out the originator and his amazing boat designs.

Have made these clips with plastic drain pipe for a smaller version - Cut on a band saw - gat a good grip to prevent turning and its OK.

lsocoee (author)2006-10-17

I like it. Dependant on the pipe thickness and sizing, I would think these are difficult to spread. I might think about using a spreader to open up the pipes.

About This Instructable




Bio: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output ... More »
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