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October 20, 2017

Poorboy Parallel Clamps…questions from a Woodworker

Woodworker Parallel clamps made in the Wood Shop

Woodworking Parallel clamps made in the Wood Shop

Perhaps you watched the recent woodworking video How to make poorboy Parallel Clamps.

Here are a few questions from one viewer that got me thinking.
A quick question …The poorboy parallel clamps obviously works well for panel glue ups, but what are limitations you could see. For instance:

* Could you use this with deeper pads for a benchtop glue up? or would the clamping force not be up to that task?
* Would longer pads apply more pressure across whole glue up or would more clamps be better?

………………………

These are very interesting questions.
1.) Benchtop glue-up. While I have not experienced a benchtop glue-up using the poorboy adjustable parallel clamps, I sense that it could be done if the wood clamps were proportionate to the pieces being clamped. I believe the system itself would work and that the clamping force would be adequate for a good glue-up. (However, for larger glue-ups I may consider using steel screws or perhaps lag screws instead of drywall screws where the pillow blocks attach to the main beam.)

Deeper pads? I believe the pads could be a bit deeper. However, consider putting the poorboy clamps on both the top and the bottom of the glue-up. This could give good even pressure all the way around and on the top and bottom of the pieces being glued. Remember, these woodworking clamps are cost effective so it doesn’t hurt for woodworkers to add more clamps.

2.) Longer pads or more clamps?…My instincts tell me more clamps. Here are my thoughts why. A clamp has so much pressure when fully tightened. A longer pad will not increase this pressure, but it will dispurse it in a wider area. More clamps mean more of pressure that can be equally distributed. (disclaimer…woodworker here, not a rocket scientist) ;)

Limitations? Keep an open imagination as there are many beneficial uses for the poorboy clamp.

Woodworking parallel clamp made by a woodworker

Poorboy parallel clamp tightened for a glue-up

A few thoughts…

Miguel, a viewer to the blog mentioned that he now has 3 pairs of the poorboy clamps. He brought up a good point when he explained that he likes the clamps because they are light in weight. This makes the clamps easier to handle than a heavier parallel or pipe clamp. If you were clamping all day long which type clamp would you prefer?

A woodworker may consider having pairs of these parallel clamps that vary in length. However, a longer length clamp can simply be shortened by moving the second pillow block or adding a third pillow block to create the length needed at the time.

Certainly, there are instance where it is advantageous the use store bought parallel clamps or pipe clamps before using the poorboy parallel clamps. However, there are numerous occasions where the poorboy parallel clamps would be my first choice. Why?
Because…
On the job site and in the workshop.
1.) On the job site, rarely does a finish carpenter have access to all the parallel clamps needed for the job at hand. However, a carpenter does have access to wood and screws necessary to build the poorboy clamps. There is very little cost in materials and in labor to make the size of clamps needed for the wood project.

2.) The poorboy clamps are very light in weight and easy to position. At this point it is simply a matter of tapping the pillow block to secure the fit.

3.) The poorboy clamps can be made to virtually any length that is required. Store bought parallel clamps are limited by their length. Pipe clamps and bar clamps can be long, but they can also heavy to handle and can also mar the surface of the material being glued.

Let me know how the poorboy parallel clamps work for you.

Recommended Videos:

Let’s Build a Drill Press Table
Let’s Build a Dedicated Dado Sled for the Table Saw
Let’s Build a Drill Press Table

The Apprentice and The Journeyman now has woodworking Plans and Books available for purchase.

The Apprentice and The Journeyman University


37…How to make poorboy Parallel Clamps

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.

Recommended Video… Woodworking Tip…The Power of the Shim

The Apprentice and The Journeyman now has woodworking Plans and Books available for purchase.

The Apprentice and The Journeyman University

 


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