Introduction: Wire Clamping Tool ( DIY )

Picture of Wire Clamping Tool ( DIY )

As requested by r-philp, here's a write up of how I made my wire clamping tool. This is simply a loose copy of the Clamp Tite brand tool. It is not to scale and absolutely not my idea/design in any way. I built both copies from a photo in the Garret Wade catalog.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials

Tools: ( Not pictured )

Files- standard set and jeweler's set
Drill press with vice ( I used a cordless drill in some of my steps but the steps can be done on the drill press )
Dremmel with cut-off wheels
Sandpaper- coarse and fine
Drill bits- 7/64" & 13/64"
Countersink bit
1/4-20 tap
Calipers and ruler/tape measurer
Small hammer
Marking tools


1/4" I.D. aluminum tubing
1/8" ss rod
An old center punch ( I used a piece of 3/8" ss rod and turned my own nose piece )
1/4-20 ss all-thread ( Not pictured )
1/4-20 wing nut ( I turned my own from a large brass punch )
1/4" UHMW washer ( Not pictured. A regular steel washers might destroy your tool over time and regular plastic washers are too soft to hold up to the pressure of pulling the wire )

Step 2: The Hard Part- Drilling Holes in Round Rod

Picture of The Hard Part- Drilling Holes in Round Rod

Don't cut anything to size yet, you can minimize waste.

To align the chuck on the press to the vice you"ll 1st have to chuck the rod to be drilled on the press. Once done, Bring the vice to the rod and close it onto the chucked rod without moving the rod. Finally, clamp the vice down carefully so it doesn't move on you. You'll have to repeat this step for every piece to ensure that you're drilling centered.

Using the 7/64" drill bit, set up and drill a hole about a 1/4" from the end of the all thread piece. It might help to file a small flat where the hole will start on the all thread. Reset the clamp, and using the same bit, drill about an inch from the end of the center punch or the 3/8" rod.  Start drilling very slowly and watch the bit when it touches the workpiece, make sure the bit doesn't move to either side.

If you decide to make your own wing nut, drill a 13/64" hole an inch from the end of the rod in the same way as the other two pieces.

Step 3: Making the Body

Picture of Making the Body

This is a fairly straight forward step. First, score parallel marks on the aluminum tube with the calipers. Next, starting 3/4" from the end of the tube, with a Dremmel, cut slots on both sides to 2 1/2" long. Then, starting with an assortment of jeweler's files and working your way up to small standard files, open the slots to 1/8" and clean them up as much as possible without going overboard. Use the 1/8" rod as a gauge, sliding it up and down both slots together until you have a nice, easy glide with minimal play. The aluminum works easily, so this won't take long.

Once the slot is finished, cut the other end to 1/2" from the end of the slot and clean and de-burr all of the edges.

Step 4: Making the Nose Piece

Picture of Making the Nose Piece

*** Please note that using a drill in this manner could result in serious injury. I am simply telling you how I did it. I take no responsibility if you choose to use this method. ***

To make the nose piece, I chucked the rod on the drill and filed a shoulder where the taper ends. Using a file and some elbow grease, I turned the shoulder down so that it was about 3/100s of a mm larger than the opening on the body of the tool. I constantly checked my work and made sure it was parallel across at least a half inch off the shoulder. Once I was close to the desired measurement, I finished the shoulder with some sandpaper to get a smooth finish.

Once happy with the shape, I moved the piece into the chuck so that 9/16" of the shoulder was exposed. I then used a hacksaw against the chuck with the drill at low speed and cut the nose piece off cleanly so that I ended up with a half inch shoulder. To make assembly a little easier, I slightly chamfered the end on the shoulder and filed the tip left from cutting.

I used a file and sandpaper to shape the tapered end of my nose piece before making the shoulder, but it took allot of work which is why I suggest using an old center punch. For my original tool, I used an old 1/2" pin I found in a scrap pile. It ended up dictating the size of the tool which i thought to be too big for my needs.

I used the same method to shape the brass wing nut. If you're not interested in looks or want something easier, try your local hardware store for a regular wing nut. They're inexpensive and easy to find.

Step 5: Assembling and Finishing

Picture of Assembling and Finishing

On a vice, press the nose onto the body at the 3/4" side making sure to keep the hole and slot aligned. Be sure to go slowly to keep everything straight and stop as soon as the end of shoulder meets the tool body. It'll take surprisingly little pressure on the vise to bend the tool body at the slots and ruin it.

Next, sand down 4" of the 1/8" rod to 2.9mm and cut two 2" pieces. Starting with the all thread, drive your pin into the hole through the slot as shown in the picture until both side are even. The assembly should slide freely all the way through the slot. If not. pull the all thread all the way up to the top of the slot and gradually rework the it until you get a clean glide. Install the nose piece pin. If the pins are a little loose, use a little super glue on both sides of the pin.

On the tip of the nose, you need a small notch for the wire to cradle in while you're pulling it tight. A small triangle file makes short work of this. Just keep the notch parallel with your pins and centered on the tip. I made mine about 1/8" deep.

Finally, install the washer and the wing nut, bottom out the tool and cut the all thread to 1/2" above the wing nut.

Done! Go make some wire clamps. For instructions on how to use the tool, check out GeeDeeKay's instructable, It was the inspiration for my instructable.


Drake411 (author)2015-05-04

This is a beautifully made clamp former. It is above my skill level so I concocted something that would be easier for me to make. I use a turnbuckle, all thread and a draw-bolt nut but you don't even need that just a nut ground to fit so it doesn't turn or let the wire slip past. The nut moves up the all-thread when you turn the threaded shaft with the handle. The tool stays the same length. You don't need roll pins because the wire you use is twisted around the tool at the nut.

The next one I make won't have the draw bolt washer but I won't tie the wire around the outside but right to the all-thread. There is a snap ring on the handle end to keep the shaft from falling out. At the end a nut and piece of all-thread is ground down to match the contours of the tool and has the clamp forming groove. I used a shut-off valve handle sawed off, drilled and threaded but if you use a larger diameter all-thread a diverter style handle for a shower it would be easier but you need to drill out the threads of the handle side of the turnbuckle to make room for it to turn freely. The first one I made sort of made itself and ended up with a drawbolt washer and a nut but I'll remake it with a drawbolt nut only and another one with a normal nut ground flat.

When you consider how this one works you can imagine building it from hardwood and brass. If you are really good you could use a quick release bolt to set up the tool quickly for the next clamp.

LeslieGeee (author)Drake4112018-01-11

Hi Drake just read a recent post on this great tool that I never heard of. Then I found this Instructable and saw your post. Would it be possible for you to make a tutorial on your version as I do not have the experience of some or the tools to make. Thank you for considering this idea :)

Drake411 (author)LeslieGeee2018-01-16

Would you like a tutorial on how to use it or how to make it? Here is the patented tool explained on youtube:

LeslieGeee (author)Drake4112018-01-16

Thank you Drake411 for t taking the time to answer me. I am talking about making the tool that you made in the picture provided with the turnbuckle. It seems to be about my speed in how to make one. I tried to figure it out with the one picture you provided but I couldn't. I understand the mechanics of it and how to use it but would like to make something from pieces I do not have to mill. Thanks for your help :)

blou77 (author)Drake4112016-09-26

dude i was reading the instructible and it's exactly what i was thinking!

Drake411 (author)blou772016-10-06

You will be able to refine this design a lot. Mines not very pretty either. If you figure out how to add a slip nut, yours will be the very best around.

GregS136 made it! (author)Drake4112016-04-20

Great idea Drake!

I drilled out the left hand threads so I could use a larger size bolt. I also used a SHCS on the tip end so it is replaceable and guides the end of the eye or j-bolt. A brass thumb nut makes a good traveler and a brass nut ground round serves to retain the bolt.

Drake411 (author)GregS1362016-04-20

Nice refinements. I like how wide the bushing is so the main screw doesn't unwind or move. Plus the top of the socket head cap screw makes a nice hard bearing. I like how you modify the bolt eye for added leverage and simplify the handle.
I made a caulking gun version that I like to work with because once you bend over the wire releasing tension helps get the tool out of the way with out wire cutters. I still have to cut the excess so , guess it might not be important. Anyway the dream version that I haven't built has a split nut held together with a spring. So you can release it from the bolt and set up the distance to match what ever slack ends you are twisting up.
A new concept I don't have the skill for or the layout figured out is to weld a lever to a pair of pliers that push while you hold the clamp ends. I work with linesman pliers and it would be cool if a tongue would push out when I need it.
If I had a drill that could drill into the tip of the pliers the gear notch a protruding rod. Somehow like with a cork puller handle in those notches push the rod out. A simpler lever placed just right might do it.
I would need to soften the pliers in a dying fire over night, work them and bring them back to temper after working them. My wife has other plans. Lol.

JariR1 (author)2017-08-17

very impressed. On my list to do items to make one. Thanks for posting.

TechDante (author)2015-12-20

just brought all the parts to make my own .making it out os stainless steel the entire thing. being in uk ive gone metric using 8mm od 1mm tube which will fit m3 bar in with .25mm cleance either side (m3 is 5.5mm diameter)will post photos as i build it.

spiderham (author)TechDante2015-12-21

I would definitely love to see your work in progress. Stainless will be a bit tougher to work with than brass and aluminum but it's doable. Good luck!

PS118 made it! (author)2015-06-05

Thanks for this! I made one completely out of scrap.

Originally I saw your brass tubing and tried to use a copper ice maker line. It seemed a little flimsy, so I upgraded to a 1/4" galvanized pipe, 4" long. That allowed me to use an off-cut of 5/16 threaded rod with a salvaged lawnmower wingnut. Pretty beefy, actually.

Tip was machined down just like you did, from a rod out of an old printer. And that extra hole in it? Well, when you said, "The hard part- Drilling holes in round rod", I can attest to that! :)

Marsh made it! (author)2015-03-17

Someone who built this, or wanted to, would probably get a few ideas from this video.

btucker6 (author)2015-03-07

An old trick I was taught for drilling round stock: lay a piece of shim stock (any thin hard plate) across your clamped round stock and then bring your drill down to it, the shim will shift an exaggerated amount until you are centered. Shift your drill / vice until the shim shifts to a horizontal position and you know you are dead on center!

shannonlove (author)2012-10-28

This was on my list of things to make. I'm interested in the tool but not enough to blink down $50+US to find out.

The US patent number is 7,036,394 and is available on google patent search if you want the inner details. Just don't sell it if you make it.

klincecum (author)shannonlove2015-01-28

I don't see how they patented this. It was already invented and patented over a 100 years ago.

shannonlove (author)klincecum2015-01-28

I couldn't say as to the patent in particular but when it comes to material and mechanical devices, patents can hinge on very small matters e.g.the angle of the thread of a worm screw. A patent can be issued for device that looks almost identical to prior art save for a small change if the change, no matter how minor, is judged to be a significant improvement to the device.

Also, If significant prior arts exist which is rather old then you can get a patent for "improvements to existing art" based on using new materials e.g. substituting plastic for a part formally made of wood.

In this case, none of the exact metals this device uses existed a century ago, so simply updating the existing device with new materials might have qualified it.

Just guessing.

spiderham (author)shannonlove2015-01-28

Here's a site I just found that covers a good portion of what you just stated:

It's an interesting read

MaskMarvl (author)2012-11-27

Nice one... I'm going to try and make one of these. :)

jimmyf (author)2012-10-17

Great instructable. I made my own tool after seeing this. Not so good looking but it serves the purpose.
I just used stuff I had laying around. The tube is a pipe nipple. I used an angle grinder to cut the slots. For pins, I used regular machine screws because I tapped threads into the pin holes.
Posted a pic. Ignore the binder clip, just used it to prop up the tool for the photo.

jimmyf (author)jimmyf2012-10-17

Sorry about the double photo. Not able to remove the duplicate for some reason. Can a moderator help and also delete this comment, please?

VadimS (author)2012-08-22

My kingdom for a lathe lol
Nice job, it's more then likely that I'll built one in the near future.

spiderham (author)VadimS2012-08-22

Thx! Post a pic and any tips you learn on the build.

VadimS (author)spiderham2012-08-25

It'll be a bit, but I'll be getting a lathe in about a month.
It's on my list of tools to build.

Topcat2021 (author)2012-08-22

Nice instructable you have made there and an excellent looking tool as well, it looks 1000% better than the tool I made several years ago (also from studying pictures). The first tool I made was a simple "down and dirty" tool to serve a much needed purpose and it performed very well. I may have to make another (smaller as well) and take more time with it, to make it look better. I like the drill and file method of turning it is the same method I used for mine and have used the turning method for several other projects.
May your good looking tool bring you many years of use and enjoyment.
Keep up the good work

r-philp (author)2012-08-22

Thank you for your excellent instructable. Kudos on your machining skills! I really appreciate the inclusion of alternate components for the parts you turned. It makes your project accessible to people without a metal lathe. Well Done!

spiderham (author)r-philp2012-08-22

I actually didm't use a lathe. I turned the nose and the wing nut the same way I turned the shoulder on the nose piece. A drill, files, sandpaper, and a few breaks to relieve the cramps in my fingers is all it took.

r-philp (author)spiderham2012-08-22

That's even more impressive!

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