Introduction: Making and Using Custom Clamping Jigs

About: The name comes from the First Star Trek movie, that pretty much says it all.

Clamps are great tools, they can put pressure on pieces and hold things together long enough for glue to set or for a person to weld or screw things together. DIY life would be a lot more difficult with out clamps. But clamps have limits. When you are squeezing things together the pressure you can exert is limited to a straight line applied between the faces of the clamps. When I started gluing up my rhombus pieces I ran into a lot of trouble with that. Anything with more than 4 sides is trouble for traditional clamps.

The solution for me was to make my own jigs that worked with regular clamps and thus could put pressure on and hold parts together that have 30 and 60 degree angles. I made them out of scrap wood and left over ends from the rhombus parts I was cutting.  I didn't make them "pretty", I made them strong with the intention of being abused.  Any type of jig that you make like this should be made out of hard wood like oak. The soft pines will crush under the pressure.

My jigs help with gluing the rhombus parts I use for my floor project  and for a new project that uses trapezoid parts.

Step 1: You Really Need Something to Hold All Those Little Blocks Together.

I have a new project in the works that will go into the upcoming wood working contest.  It involves trapezoids that have to be glued together to make larger parts.  There is just no way you could do this without a specialized clamping jig. Not even a 90 degree corner clamp will work because the triangles are not 90 degrees.

Step 2: Glueing

This is a little sample of the gluing process.  I use plastic wrap on the table to keep the glued parts from bonding to the table or the jigs.
It is possible to make 2 triangles at one time by using 2 pieces of plastic wrap and keeping each triangle separate.

Using these jigs I can take 6 trapezoid blocks and glue them up all at the same time into one larger piece.

I made 4 sets of jigs so I could glue and clamp 4 at a time which was about as many as I could clamp on the table in one session.  So I could glue up a total of 24 little blocks at one time using only 8 clamps.

I did have one of my jigs fail, the glued pieces came apart under the pressure. I thought that might happen. I am going to repair it by drilling a hole and running a long screw into it to reinforce the glued joints. I should do it for all of them.

Step 3: A Preview

This is a little preview of a finished part. This would be almost impossible to make without the clamping jigs.

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