Homemade Bessey Clamp

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At home during a holiday, I found myself in need of a clamp larger than what I already had. With most stores closed I decided to make my own based of the Bessey clamp design. Total cost was $0 using scraps of metal I had laying around. compared to store bought ones which easily run for $50.

Parts list:
1x nut  (mine is 2" long)
1x bolt that fits the nut
2x washers
1x 20" of 1/4" thick x 1" flat bar
1x 5" of 1/4" thick x 1.5" flat bar
1x 6" of 1/4" thick x 1.5" flat bar
1x 2" round bar


Step 1:

first step is to weld the end of the 20" long 1" flat bar onto the center line of the 1.5", 5" long flat bar.
Obviously your going to want everything as close to 90 degrees and parallel as possible so everything lines up nicely when complete.

 On the end of the 1.5" bar I welded a washer for a nice clamping surface.

Step 2:

Next is the sliding arm.
Draw a center line down the middle of the 1.5, 6" long bar and make a mark about 1/2" from the bottom and another 1/4" about that mark.
Sorry no picture of this step so i drew one :)
I used a drill slightly larger than the bolt and made a hole 1/4" from the top for the tightening bolt
I used a plasma cutter to make the slot for the long flat bar. Make the opening slightly to small to fit the flat bar and use a file to take it down by hand so the bar just fits in but also slides smoothly.
You don't want it to be tight but if its too loose then there will be too much play and it will operate sloppy.
This is the probably the most important part of the whole build, explained why on the last step

Step 3:

Take the bolt and weld the 2" long round bar on the end. this will be used to tighten/loosen the clamp.
Protect the treads from damage of weld spatter

Position the nut on the sliding arm over the hole you drilled and weld in place.
Thread the bolt through and weld a washer onto the end. This will be he other clamping surface. Be sure to grind down the welds to a   smooth finish so it damage the work piece.

Step 4:

home stretch ...
Slide the sliding arm onto the main shaft and double check that everything moves smoothly, then place a tack weld at the end of the main bar to prevent the sliding arm from coming off.

Viola! finished. Grab some things to clamp together and test it out.

Step 5:

How to make it work..
grab 2 pieces of wood
put them together
move the sliding arm up against the piece being clamped
tighten down on the tightening bolt and your set

notice as you tighten, the sliding bar will angle back a bit causing the two bars to "lock" together, keeping everything tight and preventing the sliding bar from moving.
If you make the opening for the main shaft too big the angle it tilts will be greater which is why you want it as tight as possible while still being able move freely

I mainly use this for clamping metal items for welding, for clamping to oft materials (ie wood) I put felt pas on the contact points.

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    19 Discussions

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    deanz

    5 years ago on Introduction

    So simple and useful, brilliant ! After watching too many "rich ?" woodworkers on youtube I begin to think I need that new fan-dangled tool, thanks for reminding me I just need to think a bit more.

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    bobelon

    5 years ago on Step 2

    Krokkenoster is wrong. The modulus of elasticity of high tensile and mild steel is the same.

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    danzo321

    5 years ago on Step 4

    I think you made it right but described it wrong: the steel beneath the rectangular slot is more than 1/4" as it should be, as that area is where great stress/moment occurs.

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    dj_nme

    5 years ago on Introduction

    An even easier version would use round-bar for the main shaft, that way you don't need to make a rectangular hole: just drill using the next size up from your bar (eg: 12.5mm hole for 12mm bar) and there's enough slop to move the jaw and also get the locking action.
    The jaws would be better if made from heavier materials and the _threaded_ rod you've used is called "brooker rod", that's what you'd ask for at the shop.

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    jephodj_nme

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    if you use a round bar, the sliding jaw would be able to spin around the bar. already thought of that route :)
    Also the "threaded rod" I used was just a 3" bolt

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    stoobers

    5 years ago on Introduction

    This is the most brilliant, simple and functional homemade clamp I've seen yet.

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    KROKKENOSTER

    5 years ago on Introduction

    I tried something similar a number of years ago and the steel must be tensile steel as ordinary mild steel bends

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    danzo321

    5 years ago on Step 4

    I think you made it right but described it wrong: the steel beneath the rectangular slot is more than 1/4" as it should be, as that area is where great stress/moment occurs.

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    T_om

    5 years ago on Introduction

    The "bit of play" is what makes this type clamp work. The square hole should be fairly close to the bar size but there should indeed be some play. When pressure is applied to the clamp, the sliding bar "tilts" backward a bit, locking itself in.

    That s why the sliding part has no gripper for the main bar.

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    carpespasm

    5 years ago on Introduction

    It looks like there's a bit of play still in the mobile side that lets it tilt off-square. If you tried clamping things too tightly this might bend the bolt. You could weld another block of steel with a hole sized for the arm and that would help reduce this off-square shape. Perhaps even just a piece of tubing with the same inner diameter as the bar stock's width would do.

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    srilyk

    5 years ago on Introduction

    If you've got scrap metal just hanging around, this totally awesome. Great job!

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    Jaycub

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for this! I need more clamps but don't want to pay $15.

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    james123cb

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Great project, Not too complicated , yet provides a very effective and sometimes expensive tool!