Wooden Bar Clamps





Introduction: Wooden Bar Clamps

About: I have been working with wood since I could stumble into the shop with my dad. About a year ago I moved into a house with no space for a full shop so I decided to take up all hand tool wood working. That sta...

I love my clamps! But these old wooden beam clamps are extremely hard to find. So it was time to make my own.

These were from a hardware kit I got from Wild Man Tech and he has a video out on how to make your own here. https://youtu.be/ZC49owEFePc

The beams and handles were made from Oak, and the pads on the jaws were made from pine.

Materials needed

Oak for beam = cut to whatever length clamp you desire. (strait clean grain if possible)

Oak oak for handle = 1 ¼” X 1 ¼” X 4 ½” “can be laminated”

Soft pine for Jaw pads = two pads needed 1 ½” X 1 ¼” X ¾”

#4 ¾” brass flat head screws = 4 per clamp : http://amzn.to/2gm1r7Z

#7 1 ¼” Brass Flat head screw = one per clamp : http://amzn.to/2gm1r7Z

Boiled Linseed Oil: http://amzn.to/2gm1r7Z

Past wax finish: http://amzn.to/2gm1r7Z

5 minute epoxy: http://amzn.to/2gm1r7Z

Tools needed

Hand plane: http://amzn.to/2gm1r7Z

Hand saw: http://amzn.to/2hiE8ON

Drill bit set: http://amzn.to/2hiE8ON

Brace or drill: http://amzn.to/2hiE8ON

¼” Chisel: http://amzn.to/2hiE8ON

Awl: http://amzn.to/2hiE8ON

File set: http://amzn.to/2hiE8ON

Step 1: Building the Handles

First, print off a pattern of an octagon that is sized to your desired width. For me that is 1 ¼” but others like larger and smaller. Trace the pattern on both ends of the handle stock so that it is aligned with two sides. This way those sides do not need to be planned to dimension.

Step 2: Shaping the Handels

Next, place the blank in a vice with one flat side of the pattern up. Then use the plane to take that side down to the line. Repeat this on all sides to give the handle the desired shape. I find it easier to cut it to length after shaping the octagon rather than before, but you may find different.

Step 3: Chamfer the Edges

Next, place the blank in a vice and use the plane to chamfer the corners on either end. This will make it feel better in the hand.

Step 4: Drill the Hole

Last, on the handle, you can drill out the hole in the center of the blank to fit the bolt on your hardware. Mine was a 15/32” and 4” deep.

Step 5: Building the Beam

The dimensions of the beam will be determined by the hardware you have and your desired length. I made mine 48” long and ⅞” X 1 ⅞” this fit perfectly inside the hardware of the clamp.

Step 6: Demention the Lumber

Use the hand saw and plane to bring the board to desired dimensions. Here is a video on how to do that. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioOOWGqe_LA

Step 7: Cutting the Back Notches

The sliding Jaw on the clamp needs a notch in the back of the beam to catch. Mine needed a notch ¼” by ¼”. I spaced them 3” apart all along the beam except for where the screw hardware is attached at one end. After laying them out I used the hand saw to cut either side of the slot and a ¼” chisel to remove the waste. I left these a bit large to make the hardware slide in and out easily.

Step 8: Making the Pads for the Jaws

I used Pine cut to the size of the faces on my jaws. Mine were 1 ¼” X 1 ½” but you will want to make them to the size of your jaws. I use the hand saw to cut them all to shape at the bench.

Step 9: Drill Attachment Holes

Next, up you will need to pre-drill all the holes. I use an Awl to mark the holes through the hardware then use the brace and drill bit to drill out the holes for mounting the hardware.

Step 10: Finnish and Assembly

For all the oak wood I finish it with Boiled linseed Oil and Paste wax. This will help seal and protect the wood from glue squeeze out. But I do occasionally (1-2 times a year) reapply the paste wax to help with glue removal. Here is more information on the finishing method. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvSvmOwmNV8

Step 11: Glue on Handles

The handles are glued in place with 5-minute epoxy. After the shaft of the screw is roughened up with a file or sandpaper.

Step 12: Attach Hardware

Last, the hardware and jaw pads are attached with brass screws. And there you go. A functional clamp.

Step 13: Final Product

There are cheaper methods, but I have not found ones that have been as satisfying to use. And I have a pile of these on my wall that are all a joy to use. They make the glue up process to be a fun one.



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28 Discussions

Excellent job

It seems to me that you have a lot of experience and that is coming from someone who also has a lot. I am not a big fan of people who try to correct your procedures after the fact...sgbotsford needs to check himself/herself. a pine pad can get changed out any time and for the handles you could even brill and pin it in place if it did work loose after a time.

I personally love the look of these and I sure as heck believe that they will stand the test of time...

Great job and I love that you don't seem to use power tools....

1 reply

Thank you. I went back and forth with putting a pin in these, but none of my others have a pin so I decided to let it go.

Very nice, sir! I have a pair of hand-me-down pipe bar clamps that
have served me well, but there's nothing quite like a tool that you've
made yourself.

1 reply

Very nice, sir! I have a pair of hand-me-down pipe bar clamps that
have served me well, but there's nothing quite like a tool that you've
made yourself.

These are some very nice looking clamps. I also enjoyed your video (especially liked that you use all hand tools to make these clamps) and subscribed to your channel. I am looking forward to watching more of your videos.

1 reply

thank you! That means a lot. I have a lot more fun things planned.

I've got a selection of sliding metal bar clamps. Even with a pivoting 4" handle on the screw I can't get them tight enough a lot of the time. I would be concerned that I couldn't get enough grip on a mere octagonal handle. Even standard pipe clamps have a 3" wingnut for cranking up the torque.

I would also worry about the long term stability of an epoxy bond between metal and wood. Epoxy is not noted for being a flexible glue, and I would expect it to fail from differential expansion and contraction of the metal and wood with changing temps and humidity. May be merit in using a low viscosity, slower set epoxy so that it could soak into the grain of the wood and not be a surface bond. Similarly, I would really rough up that shaft. I could see merit in making the hole 1/64 smaller than the shaft diameter, then attempt to cut splines in the shaft with very coarse sand paper.

Pine splits fairly easily. The pad end of the threaded shaft doesn't appear to be much larger than the shaft. This puts all the force on the center of the back of the pine block. Perhaps glue a square of 10 ga. steel on back of the pine block. Also, you don't mention it, but the screw on the face of the pine block should be countersunk, shouldn't it, and the hole be oversize so that the pad isn't torqued when the handle is turned.

1 reply

I never put that much pressure on anything. If the joint is fitted correctly you can even do it without clamps. Pressure is not important. I have used these for years and they hold up very well.

My husband only grudgingly lets me in his woodshop. This looks like a great project and you make it look so easy. With a little of his help I think I might give it a go.

1 reply

Great work. I may just have to give this a go and put the spare cash towards a new planer! Thank you.

1 reply

I love using these. and they look so good on the wall.