Turnbuckle Wire Clamp Tool

Introduction: Turnbuckle Wire Clamp Tool

This is a Wire Clamp Tool. The clamp uses 14ish to 20ish gauge wire to create a tight clamp around or between objects. It works great to replace bulky hose clamps, or to tightly bind almost any two objects together. It has a huge range of sizes and comes in a small package. It is simple to operate and uses wire that is available almost anywhere.

I have found that the best wires are stainless steel or galvanized steel wire. I have found wire at Walmart, Harbor freight, Home Depot, and Lowe's. In Europe I have seen this wire at garden and general supermarket stores.

Step 1: Tools and Material Needed:

This tool is based on a cheap, aluminum turnbuckle available at almost any hardware store.

Materials needed:

1. One Aluminum Body Turnbuckle that will accept standard 3/8" threaded rod at one end. I found mine at Lowe's in the hardware isle for about $3.50.

2. One piece of threaded 3/8 inch threaded rod and another piece approximately 4 inches long.

3. One 3/8 inch nut.

4. One 3/8 inch washer.

5. One 3/8 inch wing nut.

5. Two roll pins that are small enough to be used in a hole drilled through the 3/8" threaded rod. I found mine in a kit from Harbor Freight for about $8. They are also sold individually in hardware stores like Lowe's and Ace for around $1 each.

6. Possibly, JB Weld or some kind of epoxy.

Tools Needed:

FIRST, ALWAYS. Safety equipment: Eye protection, ear protection, and leather gloves. It only takes a single millisecond to change your life.

2. Drill Press or some way to drill a straight hole through a rod.

3. Assorted drill bits suitable for drilling soft metals.

4. Oil for cooling while drilling the metal. I used standard 3-in-One Oil.

5. A bench vice

6. Various clamps for use during drilling and assembly.

7. Angle Grinder (mine was 4") with narrow cutting wheel.

8. An assortment of small and medium sized files.

9. Hack Saw.

10. A hammer.

Step 2: Introduction Information.

I have written this Instructable assuming that if you own a drill press, you understand the basics of hand and power tools.

I have made various mistakes along the way (some that made me bleed) and will point them out in hopes that you may avoid them and improve what I have done.

Step 3: Prepare the Turnbuckle.

Separate the hook/eyes from the turnbuckle.

Identify the left-hand threaded hook/eye. They will initially look identical. One of them will have left-hand threads. It will screw in opposite normal (NOT righty-tighty ;O). The left hand thread hook/eye will not be be used. I keep everything for use somewhere else. Even I can't find anything to use the left hand thread eye for. Throw it out. LOL. Save the normally threaded one for another project.

Step 4: Drill the Holes for the Body Roll Pins.

Thread the 4 inch piece of 3/8 inch threaded rod and the 3/8 inch hex nut onto the turnbuckle body.

The first major mistake I made was to attempt to reuse the threaded part of the stainless steel eye, but could not drill through it without ruining the aluminum body. The bit would wander enough to ruin the aluminum body. The stainless steel was much harder than the threaded rod metal. My drill press is not the highest quality, but it was cheap. LOL.

Clamp the aluminum body to the drill press and drill through the center of the turnbuckle body and the threaded rod at the same time. Use progressively larger bits until you have a hole big enough to fit the roll pin you have on hand. Use a couple of drops of oil in the developing hole to cool the bit every couple of seconds of drilling.

Remove the 4 inch piece of threaded rod and replace it with the 6 inch piece of threaded rod. Drill a hole for a roll pin through second piece of threaded rod at approximately 3/4 inch from the end.

The hex nut is to keep the threaded rod in place and keep it from turning while you drill.

Step 5: Drill Holes for Slots in the Body.

Mark a center line down the middle of the flat part of the aluminum body.

Use the drill press and clamp to drill holes in a straight line as shown above.

Start and end drilling at the end of the flat portion of the hex body. Drill a number of holes along the center line. Ignore the far right hole in the picture above. That is the hole you drilled earlier for one of the roll pins.

Drill completely through both the top and bottom of the body. This will keep the holes for the slots aligned on both sides.

Step 6: Cut the Slots.

Cut the sides of the slots using the angle grinder and the thin cut-off wheel. Start with the center. Cut the slot from end hole to end hole. Then grind the sides. I tried to cut the outsides of the slot first, but didn't have much luck. It was a better quality slot if I cut down the center and ground the sides. I am sure many of you have better skills here than I do.

I found that the cut-off wheels I have could also be use to grind the side of the slots.

Second mistake, it is very easy to over grind or to get the sides of the slots ground at odd angles. Take your time to get the sides of the slots vertical.

I finished the sides using a flat file.

Step 7: Drill the Hole for the 6 Inch Threaded Rod Channel.

Drill the threads out of the left hand thread side of the aluminum body. This will allow the threaded rod to move freely in the turnbuckle. Remember to drill the left hand thread side and not the side with the hole you drilled earlier for the roll pin.

Use a drill bit just a little bit larger than the threads to drill out the threads. This will allow the rod to move in the channel freely.

Mistake number three, back to safety. I tried to hold the body by hand and drill it using my drill press. I couldn't hold onto it and ended up cutting one of my knuckles. Use a bench vice and a hand drill. A second of stupidity can ruin all of the safety you have used.

Step 8: Cut Groove in the End.

Clamp the 4 inch section, end piece into the bench vice.

Using a triangular file, cut a groove in the end that will accommodate the largest gauge wire size.

Round the end with the groove also. This will damage the piece being clamped when you pivot it.

Step 9: Install the Roll Pins.

Thread the 4 inch piece of threaded rod into the aluminum body. Using a hammer, drive a roll pin through the body and the threaded rod locking it in place.

Install the 6 inch piece of threaded rod to the opposite end of the aluminum body. Make sure the hole that is drilled into the threaded rod is in the slot. Drive the second roll pin.

Another lesson learned here. Be sure to take it easy here, it is easy to split the threaded rod by driving the roll pin with too much force. The hole in the threaded rod will leave the sides of the rod more fragile. I split one of the sides the first time. In the end I ended up drilling the holes for the roll pins a tiny bit to large and using JB Weld to fix them in place. I have'nt had a problem with them moving so far.

Install the flat washer and the wing nut onto the 6 inch threaded rod.

One final lesson, the groved end (where the wire will be held) of the wire tool needs to be much shorter than the one pictured here. With the long end pictured, the clamps waste a lot more wire and take a lot more room to use.

Happy making!

Step 10: Wire Clamp Tool Instructions

Galvanized steel or stainless steel wire has the tensile strength to form a clamp. Copper wire will not. Any wire that is very soft, such as copper and aluminum will not have the strength to allow the tension needed for a good clamp.

See the illustration on how to use the clamp.

If you have any questions, please let me know. I will help if I can.

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7 years ago on Step 9

Nice make. I was at prepper con and I saw a man selling a survival tool that makes clamps. It was essentially a piece of sheet metal folded over with a clock key through a hole in the side. The key had holes on each side of the sheet metal to accommodate the two wires and it was the sheet metal that had the groove for pushing the folded wire to tighten the clamp.

I've been using bailing wire to make temporary items in my yard from sticks and branches I've pruned and when I saw that I stepped forward to buy. It was twenty five bucks and I felt cheap so I passed on the "Stronghold haywire Klamper tool". YT has a video or two on it.

The Clamptite tool I found out about here on Instructables and at $60+ my skinflintery soared apoplectic. This is still a tricky build for my skill level so I was happy to find your post which is thus far the easiest build. My favorite of all times is the device by JJ Mooch patented 1905 "implement for applying bands" US784114 but F.S. Whitlock's 1916 patent US1181191 brings to mind a caulking gun where the groove is pushed out. Both have luthier's clamps to hold the wire which could save on wasted wire. Whereas the Stronghold tool brings to mind a guitar tuning peg without the gear. So many ways to go it gets the imagination up. I looked at a cheap tie down strap buckle and think I can bolt a grooved piece to it and run the wires though the slot but I worry the excess wire will be hard to remove and not bite well unless sharpened.

Learning from your work I plan on using an open turnbuckle and a "draw bolt". I thought an s-strap bolt which is tee shaped would save me some work too but Homie Dees doesn't carry one. Either one will need a sharp notch to bite the wire. Also your point about the length of the forward groove piece makes me wonder if I can notch the turnbuckle itself. My sketchbook hasn't been used for a while. Thanks for the inspiration.


Reply 7 years ago on Step 9

I have constructed a haywire clamp also. I haven't had the time to redo and document. If you stay tuned for a couple of weeks, I will have that one up also. It's an easier build. You just need a vice, files and a hack saw.