Learn how to make Parallel Clamps
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty. That is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
John Keats…English Romantic poet (1795-1821)
The Need for Parallel Clamps
We have all heard that a woodworker can never have too many clamps. However, what do you do when you need parallel clamps for gluing up lots of panels of Koa wood, you are on an island, and you don’t have any clamps available? You simply have to be creative and use the materials available to you make your own parallel clamps. This was the case for me twenty years ago while working as a finish carpenter at a 5-star resort on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
At that time there were no hardware stores available that one could easily purchase parallel clamps or woodworking supplies. All of our materials and equipment were shipped in a cargo container from Southern California and would take weeks to receive. Waiting for any parallel clamps to arrive was out of the question. However, a fellow finish carpenter and I came up with a solution that worked like a charm. In this post I’ll share it with you.
Cost Effective Parallel Clamps
The poorboy parallel clamps are easily made from scrap material and are adjustable for varying widths of material to be glued. All you need for a clamp is a beam, two pillow blocks, and two drywall screws. Drill pilot holes and then drive the screws through the beams and into the pillow blocks. Make as many wood parallel clamps as necessary to get even clamping pressure. (Also…make sure to place a piece of plastic or wax paper between the parallel clamps beam and the glue seam to avoid gluing the clamp.)
The distance between the pillow blocks should be the width of the glue-up plus about 1/4″. Place the parallel clamps over the wood to be glued and simply tap the pillow blocks to create an evenly distributed pressure along the glue joint. The tightened woodworking parallel clamps will produce a nice, tight joint. It doesn’t get any easier than this.
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