Homemade Bar Clamps

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About: Hi I'm Neil and I like to make and create. This can be anything from woodwork/metalwork to photography/drawing or any other form of creation that motivates me.

Over the years I've made a few different types of bar clamps and while they all worked I thought I could improve on them. All the ones I've made were out of wood, they could apply a fair amount of pressure but I wouldn't say they were heavy duty. Also they all required a pin or some sort of nearest adjustment stop and then tighten up to that, which I found annoying - especially in the middle of a difficult glue up. My new clamps are heavy duty, fast and extremely easy to use.

Step 1: Preparing Parts

The decision to make 8 clamps made this a fairly time consuming project.

There was a lot of cutting and grinding, mainly the side walls of the head and foot of the clamps.

The adjustment of the clamp works with a threaded rod welded to the underside of the main bar (steel box section) where a nut cut in half attached to the foot engages the threads.

Step 2: Welding the Foot

I used a mig welder with flux core wire for this project. This obviously worked but was not a good option. It was messy and there was a lot of clean up. A Tig welder would have been my choice, I think that would have really helped the project out.

In the first step I drilled holes in the side walls of the Head and Foot pieces to aid in lining up the parts to weld. Then I used the holes to spot weld the part and finished off welding with a bead along any seams.

To centre the half nut on the base of the foot I made a jig out of a few scraps of wood and hot glue. I also used blocks of wood to clamp the parts around to line everything up. On this foot section the box section running through the middle is set on an angle and the only way to get the wood out was to make it in 2 parts.

Step 3: Clamp Screw

The screw, for tightening of the clamp was made with M16 (5/8') threaded rod. M12 (1/2") could've been used but I'm hoping the threads will last for years to come with the bigger threads. There was just enough room after grinding the nuts down to turn inside the head of the clamp.

Step 4: Welding Head

This was similar to welding the foot but the screw needed to be attached. I also added runners to sit under the main bar to keep the head from racking.

Step 5: Making Main Bar

This is pretty straight forward, I made a jig out of wood scraps and hot glue to keep the bar centered while being welded. This worked out great.

The threaded rod was left about an inch short at the foot end to leave room to put an end cap on.

Step 6: Attatching Head to Main Bar

I made four clamps where I welded the head directly to the bar and four more where the bar could be removed to use with longer bars. The removable heads were welded to 20mm box section that slid nicely into the main 25mm bar then bolted with a single bolt. I made the inner bar fairly long 250mm (10").

Step 7: Handles, Clamp Faces and End Caps

Next I put a bit of paint on the Head and Foot, I chose a bright colour but it wasn't until I put the paint on I realised it was Ryobis colour. Then my 9 year old boy comes home from school, first thing he says when he sees the clamps "Ryobi".Rather than making round handles I kept them square to help with grip when tightening. On past clamps I've drilled a hole large enough to accomodate the threaded rod but even though glued in I've had the handle slip on the rod. This time I drilled the holes smaller (15mm to accept 16mm rod) so I had a tight fit to screw the handles on. The holes were a little to tight and the handles wanted to split (only slightly) so I filed a groove into one of the clamp head screws and tapped all the handles. With epoxy they are going nowhere.

Clamp faces were made from wood and hot glued in place.

The end caps were made from a short piece of 30mm box section with a cap welded on, these are to stop the foot from falling off the bar. I screwed in from underneath with a self drilling screw.

Step 8: Finished Clamp

Thats about it. To use the clamp the foot needs to be lifted a little and will freely slide along the bar up to the workpiece then it can be clamped with the clamp screw.

I hope this is useful to someone! Any questions just ask.

The video shows it better in action.

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    35 Discussions

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    kbrunner

    1 year ago

    Impressive Instructable!

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    Dawsie

    1 year ago

    Hi I liked the clamps better in purple ??

    Was fascinated by the holes you were drilling in the plates for a while until the penny dropped loved the concept of that will defiantly be using that technique on my next welding job that's for sure ???

    I will have to watch the video again when I am ready to make my own clamps they are really great and defiantly better than the ones I bought that's for sure I liked the ones with the removablele heads butter as this would take up less room if I made those ones as it would save on workshop space that's for sure. Plus I could have as many shafts which are easier to store than the whole clamps.

    Thanks for sharing this project.

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    SherylinRM

    1 year ago

    For a first instructable it is very good.

    I liked it anyhow.

    In time I am sure the comments etc will be put to use and many more great ideas will come from this :)

    Keep up the good work :)

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    cocosoft

    1 year ago

    I thought it was a
    great design regardless where it came from, I was just wondering if it was
    entirely your idea.
    More than that I guess I was just upset at the lack of
    detailed plans as when time permits I really want to have a go at making a few
    myself.

    Keep up the great work!
    Kudos to you.

    Regards
    Robert

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    Texlyons

    1 year ago

    By far the coolest build I've ever seen on Instructables. Bravo.

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    mwitherspoon

    1 year ago

    Great looking tools and great work you put into them. Definitely something to be proud of. While I do enjoy the whole DIY and Maker movement, materials and time can add up quickly - I myself have been guilty of this many times over. Sometimes its hard to beat a commercial product. I realize you are in Australia, I'm just curious what a product like this would cost to get shipped to you there. https://www.amazon.com/52-2-Inch-Clamp-Fixture-Black/dp/B0000224CA/ref=sr_1_5?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1479735117&sr=1-5&keywords=pipe+clamp

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    JoeS222

    1 year ago

    These look great. Measurements and pans would be very helpful. But what you have provided will be enough for me to build some. And I haven't seen any as beefy ads these here I the US either. Bar clamps here range in price, but we all know you get what you pay for in tools also.

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    CraftAndu

    1 year ago

    Awesome! Definitely on my to-do list

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    cocosoft

    1 year ago

    Great looking clamps functionally especially and neat video proves you can do it but as far as passing on critical information for someone else wanting to emulate your efforts, I think details and even rudimentary plans are badly lacking.
    Great effort though - was the design idea entirely yours or copied from an existing clamp somewhere?

    1 reply
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    Pask Makescocosoft

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you and sorry for not providing plans - I will try to do so soon.

    The design was totally mine - I've seen a threaded bar and half a nut used for indexing on different jigs but not in this way.

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    Jared_Sams

    1 year ago

    One more question, where did you find square tubing that scopes?

    2 replies
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    lwoodsumJared_Sams

    Reply 1 year ago

    Those should be available at Home Depot or Lowes. The best thing to do would be to take a picture of what you're looking for and bring it with you when you ask them where it is.

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    Pask Makeslwoodsum

    Reply 1 year ago

    Our version of Home Depot or Lowes (Bunnings) sells steel for more than twice as much as a steel merchant.

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    gppatnude

    1 year ago

    What????? No list of materials and estimated cost per unit?? They look good, thougth!!

    1 reply
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    Pask Makesgppatnude

    Reply 1 year ago

    Sorry. This was my first intractable and I didn't really expect many views (i am blown away with the response). I will definitely include more information on any further instructables in the future. Cost per unit would be around AUS $20 whereas a Bessey clamp of the same size here costs around AUS $100.

    There are a few of the materials listed on my sketch then any other items are self explanatory. I will try to put some plans together though.

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    RayJN

    1 year ago

    Your bar clamps look far better than any commercially available camps I
    have seen. I do not have the equipment or the skill to make them. Have
    you patented your design or did you get it from someone else?

    1 reply
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    Pask MakesRayJN

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you. No patent but I did design them myself. I searched the net to see if anyone had already made something similar but I couldn't find anything.

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    TerjeG1

    1 year ago

    really nice, professional looking bar clamps. What would you estimate total cost of matetial to be?