Homemade Clamps From Plastic Pipe




About: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of www.zcorp.com, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output devices. His detailed drawings of traditional Pacific...

You can never have enough clamps, especially when building a boat.
Here's Platt Monfort's method of making your own from plastic pipe.

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Step 1: Get a Big Pipe and Cut a Bunch of Rings

Any plastic pipe will work. This is black ABS. Polypro would be nice. Never use PVC for anything. Get the size and thickness of pipe to match your clamping needs. Cut the rings wide enough to give you the clamping force you need and so you can spread the clamp with your hands.

Step 2: Cut Through the Ring in One Place

Use whatever kind of saw you like.

Step 3: Make a Big Chain, Wear It, Goof Off.

Link all your springy clamps together and go around wailing "I forged it link... By... Link...."

Step 4: Get More Force With Rubberbands

To use it, just spread the jaws and clamp it onto your workpiece. To get more force, wrap some rubberbands around it. That's a bright idea from Numberandom

Step 5: Clamp Happy

You'll never run out of clamps again! Even a cockpit coaming is easy. That's a "Pax 20" kayak kit from CLC boats.

Step 6: The Finished Thing

You'd never guess what would come from under that forest of clamps.
A few hours after gluing, the clamps come off, and after a little sanding and a coat of epoxy,
here's the finished cockpit ring. Oohh! Ahhh!

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    24 Discussions


    13 years ago

    Or drill two holed into the pipe, top and bottom and put a long screw through the center and then use a fly nut to tighten the grip.

    \_/ <--Fly Screw (not quite sure if thats what you call them...)
    | <---Love screw

    / | \
    | | <---Pipe clamp

    *Sorry for the crued illustration.

    3 replies
    Tool Using AnimalDemokr

    Reply 13 years ago

    My people call them wingnuts. I did this with PVC pipe to attach the gunwale of my cedar canoe, allow me to simulate the stupidity of cutting pvc with a tablesaw Buzzzzzz!! *PING* Whossh, whoosh ThunK! AAAAIIIEEEEEE!!! Call 911

    I've cut PVC with a number of different saws, and I know what you mean about table saws being a bit scary. However, if you approach it carefully, it will work fine. The main thing to remember is NOT to cut plastic pipe like you cut wood on a tablesaw. The best way I've found is to slowly move the pipe up toward the spinning blade, and when it's cut thru the surface of the pipe, don't move the pipe any further -- instead, just slowly rotate the pipe until the whole circumference is cut through. I've also done it by nailing a couple of pieces of scrap 2x4, a foot or so long, together at the edges to form a 90-degree angle. Place it over the pipe and hold onto it instead of the plastic pipe. All this extra mass (weight) makes it harder for the saw to "get control over the pipe." The advantage of the tablesaw over hacksaws, etc., is that you get a neat, clean 90-degree cut. Sometimes this is important, sometimes not, but trying to get that from a hacksaw is very tough. Using a miter box with a backsaw or hacksaw might work, though I've never tried it.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    if you clamp a piece of wood to the miter fence, you can create a stop for the pipe. It's good if you want to make a lot of them the same size. We did this in tech class at school, we made about 50 of them!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    incidentally, the bike made with your clamps was by Long Toe


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I see that AT used PVC sucessfully, so can I ask why you think it should not be used?

    I think your idea is BRILLIANT! It is completely inspired! I saw it first on an instructable for a bentwood bike and thought it was great


    13 years ago

    great idea, I had never thought of this but it is a great way to get cheap clamps. Especially when you need a lot of clamps. One little suggestion I would suspect that the rubberbands could slip off, if that does become a problem you might try screwing in 2 pieces of scrap wood on top and bottom, maybe some 2x2's or a 1x4 cut down to a 1x2 or something like that on either side of the rubberband, on top and bottom and just screw the wood down to the pipe with some 1/2' self tapping screws. Just a suggestion. Good instructable.

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    love the idea i'm working on drum-mic-clamps for the moment and this will reduce cost and work dramatically!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    I remembered seeing this and today needed to come up with a way to keep the table cloth on the picnic table. I remembered this instructable and made six clamps out of some PVC I happened to have around.

    PVC Clamp.JPG
    Mr. Rig It

    12 years ago on Introduction

    Me Likey! Great idea. Now to go pull some of the neighbors pipe out of the ground and make some clamps (long evil laugh).


    12 years ago

    Neat. I need this for holding down rolled aluminum for layout work.


    12 years ago

    wow.....this is absolutely genius.....i can imagine doing wonderful things with these homemade clamps...good job!


    12 years ago

    Great Site! Great Ideas...all. Like the wing nut idea. To hold rubber bands easy, Drill 1/2" holes before cutting pipe. Cuts would split holes in half creating notches for the bands to hold in. knock of edges with file so they won't split bands.


    12 years ago

    that's a simple but quite brilliant idea!


    13 years ago

    If you constructed them on a smaller scale you could use them as helping hands for soldering. A small hole drilled in the section of pipe prior to cutting the "jaws" of the clamp would allow for grabbing wire more easily.