Hose Clamp Magic




Pocket Wonder

Hose clamps are ubiquitous in plumbing, and clamping a hose to a fitting tightly is critical in any plumbing system. Traditional hose clamps work great, but they can be bulky, and they don't work well around irregular shapes. Using stainless steel lockwire (also called safety wire) and a tool called a Clamp Tite, a custom clamp can be fabricated quickly and easily. 

Using this pocket-sized tool with lockwire, lots of types of connections can be fabricated, not just pipe clamps. This instructable will illustrate a simple example for fabricating an easy pipe clamp for a rain barrel. 

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Problem?

When collecting parts for a rain barrel, I neglected to test the fit of the outflow hose on the fitting. The hose barb end of the fitting was 1" but the hose was 1-1/4" inch. The fitting is not under pressure, so some sealant could have served to attach the hose to the fitting, but I wanted something more positive. 

Step 2: Solution! Components

The Clamp Tite tool uses the properties of lockwire to create a clean, custom-fit fastener. The tool draws wire tight around the fitting, then folds the wire over itself to lock the clamp in place. The clamp is weather-resistant and low-profile. 

Stainless steel lockwire is used in the manufacturing industry and in racing to create fastenings that will not vibrate loose, and to provide quick visual inspection that work has been completed. It is a great resource that has uses in many applications.

Lockwire can be found from lots of sources, and if it is to be used in industry, make sure it meets industry quality and safety specifications. If you're using it outside of regulated areas, look for decent quality and price. This is the niche Harbor Freight owns. A 1-pound spool of 1mm (0.041") stainless steel wire will cost about $7.50, which is far cheaper than almost any other source I've found. The least expensive Clamp Tite tool retails for about $30, but it can be sourced more cheaply from Lee Valley and other tool sources. There are more expensive versions for serious applications, but this model is easily used with bare hands and light-gauge wire. 

For the purpose of a hose clamp, measure and cut wire twice the circumference of the area to be clamped, plus 12 inches to attach the wire to the tool and tighten. 

Step 3: Position the Wire

Bend the wire in half, place the wire around the area to be clamped and pass the ends through the loop.

Step 4: Attach the Tool

Start with the wing nut at the end of the threaded rod inside the tool. 

Attach the Clamp Tite tool as shown in the image. Make sure the wire passes over the pins at the tip of the tool, and that the end of the loop is in the notch on the end of the tool.

Loop the wire around the rear pins and twist the wire ends on top of the body of the tool.

Step 5: Tighten the Clamp

Twist the wing nut clockwise to draw the threaded rod out of the body of the tool, moving the rear pins away from the tip of the tool.

Continue to tighten until the clamped area has sufficient tension. 

Fold the tool over the clamped region to lock the wire ends over the loop. This locks the joint.

Step 6: Trim the Ends

Loosen the wing nut and slide the body of the tool back from the clamp.

Snip off the wire with wire cutters to create small ends about 1/2" long.

Step 7: Dress the Joint

With the tool removed, use wire cutters to press the wire ends down in between the wires to bury the ends in the joint.

Rotate the hose so the joint is hidden behind the fitting.

The clamp is now complete!

Step 8: Examples of Other Uses

This tool has become a go-to for me. Here are some other examples of how I've used the Clamp Tite tool:
  • The truck had a rattle underneath, which turned out to be a loose heat shield on the catalytic converter. A length of wire and several turns of the screw later, no more rattle.
  • The bamboo tiki torches in the garden were showing their age, but the oil canisters were still fine. Some new bamboo and a couple of clamps made for good-as-new torches at whatever height I wanted.
  • One of the cross dowels on the laundry rack broke in a long, diagonal splintered fracture. Instead of having to replace the dowel, I used some wood glue a couple of wire clamps, made sure the joint was facing down and dressed nicely so as not to catch on hanging clothing, and the rack was back in action in less than 10 minutes.
Best pocket-sized tool ever!

Pocket-Sized Contest

Participated in the
Pocket-Sized Contest

2 People Made This Project!


  • Indoor Lighting Contest

    Indoor Lighting Contest
  • Metal Contest

    Metal Contest
  • Make It Fly Challenge

    Make It Fly Challenge

49 Discussions


3 years ago

I have that exact tool, and spool of wire. I have used it so many times!


4 years ago on Introduction

This instructable and the comments here have been very helpful to me. I've wanted something like this for a long time since I make stuff in my garden with sticks and bailing wire. I saw a variation of this clamp forming tool called the stronghold klamper at a convention but was too cheap to buy it. When I saw this one I was really impressed. I also searched the patents for "wire forming tool". I think everyone will appreciate J.J. Moock's patent "implement for applying bands" which is nicer than anything on the market today. Similarly nice is Whitlock's 1916 patent which has hold down clamps too but pushes a bar with a groove out.

Heathbar64's make is really great because it keeps the hook and the pushing groove close together and therefore wastes less wire. I think if I use an old door hinge cut down with an angle grinder and a bolt with slots cut in it I will be able to avoid welding the tube to the side of hold-down groove.

The other great idea on instructables by technomancer07 is using a turnbuckle for the sleeve. I was going to try that at first but use an open turnbuckle and a "draw bolt" or tee shaped s-strap bolt notched to grab the wire. I would also like to try and ditch the forward cross pin and sharpen and notch the turnbuckle itself.

Finally one might try adapting a bicycle brake with a pin placed where the lead bead fits. I have one but I'm stuck on where the best place to put the notch is.

3 replies

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

Hah! I like the way you think... I also look for ways I can recreate something myself as you're doing here. This is just such a nice tool and so cleanly designed that I'm happy to give them a few bucks to support their efforts. I have built many a trellis using bamboo bound with safety wire using this tool. I used it at a friend's lake house to keep a tree house log from continuing to split. I always bring it and a small coil of wire along on tech jobs, because when you need a clamp, there's no time to hunt around for materials...

This interest in DIY also applies to gardening for me, among other myriad pursuits. I love to grow almost anything, but it turns out cabbage is a heck of a lot cheaper to buy at the market than it is to grow yourself, and you don't have to store the produce you grow, you can get it on-demand. That doesn't mean I still don't grow cabbage, garlic, beets, and other crops that are usually far cheaper in the store. 

There's a lot to be said for taking an idea and putting your own spin on it, so to speak. If you do build one, let me know. I'd love to see it. 


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

I've got it put together but still need to test it. I shared it first with Tecnomancer07 here:
It's a bit different in that it doesn't get longer but has a bolt ride up the middle. The turnbuckle guides the build in a different direction though if it works it may turn out to be easier for some to build. The tricky part being the groove for the snap ring. Also my handle still needs a lock screw but it's late and I couldn't use any power tools on it so far. I'll keep you posted about how well it works.


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

Works fine even without the lock screw on the old shut off valve handle. When folding over the grooved tip is a bit rough and could use some cleaning up so it doesn't tear up what I am clamping. A 5/16 flat head bolt with the groove widened might work better as the nut pictured will require a lot of filing. Also filing four nicks in the turnbuckle to help press the folding over might help replace the forward pin. Got a beehive to finish for now.


7 years ago on Introduction

I didn't know they were selling this tool. I made one very similar many years ago based on a suggestion in an old popular science magazine for a homemade toole exactly like this. I guess I'll have to dig it out and use it again.

10 replies

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

If you can dig out the article, (an perhaps a picture of the tool you made) I'd tell everyone that you are awesome--deal?


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

Here is the same page but scanned.


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

Aw jeez, I've got at least a hundred vintage popular sciences, and I have no idea which one it's in. But I do know where my version of the tool is. perhaps I'll take a picture later today.


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

Ok, here is the tool that I made. looks a bit different but works the same. As I recall, the one shown in the old magazine all those years ago looked exactly like the one shown in this ible.


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

Dear awesome64,
I think I just crashed my brain trying to figure out how to use this.
(Don't even wanna go near figuring out how to build this without buying a welder)

If you ever find the time, could you post a short ible or a usage manual?


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

pretty simple to use, just put the notch into the loop of wire and twist the loose ends around the hook and crank it down.


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

I thought that this was going to be a homemade tool also. I have a similar tool sitting out in my shop that I made by looking at pictures of a clamp tite tool, mine doesn't look as nice but will do the job very well.
This is a nice instructable all the same though.
Good work


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

Thanks. Since I've discovered this tool, I have been finding all sorts of new uses for stainless steel wire. It's relatively rust resistant and holds together really well in these clamp configurations. It's also really easy to remove a clamp by snipping the wires with diagonal cutters. I had no idea about the concept of lock wire until I started looking for new sources for wire. Cool idea, and one I could have put to use in the past and will remember for the future. -- Geoff


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

Is there any chance you could write an instructible on the build of your tensioning tool?