Better Clamp Handles

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Introduction: Better Clamp Handles

You know those clamps with the skinny handles that every time you use them you wonder WHY are these handles so darn hard to get a good grip of to apply some good pressure? Well . . . in an afternoon (not counting glue drying time) you can beef up those handles and have some clamps you actually enjoy using.

Supplies

Clamps - those ones you never want to use because the handle is too skinny

6/4 wood (I used Popular) or a 2 x 4

Table Saw

Tape Measurer/Steel Ruler/Caliper

Miter Saw or Hand Saw

Drill Press or Hand Drill

Forstner Bits (I used 13/16" and 7/8" for two different sized handles)

Router Bits - 1/4" roundover and 1/2" roundover

Sandpaper - 60 grit and 220 grit

Wood Glue

Step 1: Rip Wood to Size

Rip wood to 1 1/4" x 1 1/4"

Step 2: Cut Wood to Length

On a mitre saw (or with a handsaw) cut your wood to 4" long. Setting a stop block makes for fast, accurate pieces.

Step 3: Measure and Size Handle

Measure your handle diameter. Drill sample sizes in scrap wood to determine size of Forstner bit to be used. A 7/8" hole was going to be too big, but 13/16" was a little too tight. With 60 grit sandpaper sand down the handle until it fits in the hole with a little bit of play. Measure the length of your handle.

Step 4: Drill Holes for Handle

Find the center of your new handle, position in drill press (or drill with a hand drill). Set up stop blocks, make sure your stop block in the back is high enough for stability. My red handled clamps are 3" long, but the spindle on my desktop drill press can not drill the entire 3" depth without adjusting my work piece. I set the first plunge to go in 1 1/2", put a 3/4" block of wood under the handle (drill press off) this allowed me to drill 2 1/4" deep, added another 3/4" block and finished drilling to my desired 3" deep hole. Note: I recommend a Forstner bit over a spade bit, a spade bit wanted to wander and I couldn't get a good centered hole.

Step 5: Shape Handles

With a 1/4" roundover bit in your router table, round over the ends of your new handles (I used a sled because of the small size of the pieces for safety). Round over the sides of your pieces. With a stop set up on the router fence, use the 1/2" roundover bit, round over the top edge 5/8" down. Sand handles with 220 sandpaper.

Step 6: Glue on New Handles

Apply wood glue to handle and inside your new handle. Push your new handle onto clamp. Clamp your clamps to the end of a bench/table and let dry overnight.

Step 7: Ta Da!

Before and after! Now you have new handles you can hold on to and enjoy using.

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    22 Comments

    0
    Yonatan24
    Yonatan24

    1 year ago

    Nice. I like the smaller handle so my hand has more room between it and the bar.
    What is that tablesaw push stick? Looks a bit terrifying.

    0
    BobbiLP
    BobbiLP

    Reply 1 year ago

    I still have plenty of room between the handle and the bar. As you can see in the attached picture, my black handle clamps are the same design and those handles are 1 1/2" diameter my new handles are 1 1/4" in diameter.
    Not sure what you find terrifying about my push stick, I find the design to work great.

    IMG_5006.jpeg
    0
    Yonatan24
    Yonatan24

    Reply 1 year ago

    Is there a chance that the steel could hit the blade? It looks pretty close from the picture.

    0
    BobbiLP
    BobbiLP

    Reply 1 year ago

    I'm sorry I don't understand the question, which image are you referring to?

    0
    Yonatan24
    Yonatan24

    Reply 1 year ago

    The image in step 1.

    0
    BobbiLP
    BobbiLP

    Reply 1 year ago

    There is no steel, I’m just cutting a piece of wood. The only steel in that picture is the saw blade and my anti kick back splitter.

    0
    Yonatan24
    Yonatan24

    Reply 1 year ago

    Yes, that's what I'm referring to, how doesn't the splitter hit the blade when you're cutting?

    0
    BobbiLP
    BobbiLP

    Reply 1 year ago

    Maybe this picture will help

    IMG_5018.jpeg
    0
    Yonatan24
    Yonatan24

    Reply 1 year ago

    Oh, that makes sense. From the angle of the picture it looked like they were screwed to the push stick - thansk.

    0
    BobbiLP
    BobbiLP

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you for sharing your video. I will say that picture of me cutting does look worse than it was, I’m very safe.

    0
    jeanniel1
    jeanniel1

    1 year ago

    Whack on the side of the head! I've often struggled with the handles when tightening clamps and then my fingers would get caught and I couldn't turn the handle to tighten. I would consider an oval or rounded rectangular handles as well. Great idea and wish I'd done it earlier.

    0
    BobbiLP
    BobbiLP

    Reply 1 year ago

    😂 I don’t know why I waited so long either.

    0
    XTL
    XTL

    1 year ago

    Well that is simply brilliant. Just sleeve it over the top. I might try swapping the Forstner bit out for a holesaw after using it - to get the outside round. (I don't have a router table.) Bit more sanding for me but definitely going to do this. Thanks heaps.
    A good title change might be "Better Clamp handles using sleeves", I nearly missed looking at this one.

    0
    BobbiLP
    BobbiLP

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you! You could use a rasp to do some of the shaping, that would cut down on so much sanding.

    0
    JohnH973
    JohnH973

    1 year ago

    Doesn't the thickness and squareness of the superimposed handle cut down on "knuckle room" between the handle and the bar of the clamp? I guess that's why the handles are made skinny in the first place.

    0
    BobbiLP
    BobbiLP

    Reply 1 year ago

    On some clamps that may be true, but I knew these bigger handles would work on the clamps I have. As you can see in the picture, I have some black handle clamps that are 1 1/2" in diameter (my new ones are only 1 1/4" diameter), the clamps are exactly the same design.

    IMG_5006.jpeg
    0
    DeltaD20
    DeltaD20

    1 year ago on Step 7

    Love this. This is why I hate bessey clamps. Hurt my wrist every time I use it

    0
    BobbiLP
    BobbiLP

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you!

    0
    silkier
    silkier

    1 year ago

    Broke my wrist just over a year ago and I notice how much it has affected my grip, especially the thumb. How many times have I sworn at my clamps hanging in their spot clamped to the shelf end and I can't undo them. I even resorted to grabbing the mole grips the other day. I thought at that moment "I must make some type of handle for these wretched things" and here you are - my saviour!