Overview: If you are going to make boxes there is no substitute for good band clamps. They pull all eight joint cuts together and tend to average out any cuts that are slightly off. I use two clamps on each box. They are expensive to buy, but cheap if you make your own. When in use, they look like this. These are really cranked down to pull all the joints tight. (A big thanks to Derrick who patiently helped me picture each step in this process.)
Hint: To make this a quick read just scan the dark print and look at the pictures. You can come back for the details if you need them.
I will try to explain this process in two languages…English and pictures. Any comments or suggestions will be appreciated.
Start with a package of these. Cheap tie-downs from Sam’s or an auto store. Buy a set that has rubber covered crank handles as they are much easier on your hands when you tighten them.
General Idea: What we are going to do is remove the hook on the long strap. Throw away the small strap. Grind away the rivet from the frame, and re-position the long strap so the looped end that held the hook is now re-connected with a bolt where the short strap was connected, and re-thread the long strap through the eye in the ratchet mechanism. If this is confusing…just follow the pictured steps.
Here are the tools I used for this job. You don’t need all of these, but they are useful if you have them. A vise, angle grinder (you could use an emery wheel or file), ball peen hammer, small vise grips, drift punch, scissors, channel locks, 1 inch x 1/4 inch bolt, a couple of wrenches to fit the bolt and nut, and a big screwdriver. If you have been looking for a use for that great big screwdriver that came in the Craftsman set you got for Christmas…this is your chance to finally use that sucker!
Start by cutting away the short strap and hook with the scissors. DO NOT get carried away and cut the loop on the long strap! We will need this for later.
Now, you have the fame with no straps attached.
Twist the hook on the longer strap to spring the eye of this hook slightly so you can slip the loop off the hook. Told you you could finally get to use that great big screwdriver. (This is much easier and faster than cutting the hook itself.)
The next modification is to remove the rivet holding the long strap onto the ratchet mechanism. We are going to grind off the head of the rivet to remove it without harming the ratchet frame.
Use the channel locks to bend the frame enough so the rivet head stands proud of the frame itself.
I found it useful to use the vise grips to hold the rivet up while the frame was clamped in the regular vise.
With the frame clamped back in the regular vise grind away the head of the rivet.
Use the hammer and a punch to remove the rivet from the frame.
With the channel locks bend the frame back into its original position making sure the ratchet can turn freely and the spring loaded catch mechanism works freely too.
Now we are going to re-attach the loop from the long strap (This loop originally held a hook we removed.) We will bolt it in place back on the frame using the holes from where the short strap was originally held in place by the rivet.
Here you see that the original rivet has been replaced by a 1/4 inch bolt and nut.
Back to the vise putting the bolt head in the vise jaws.
Grind away most of the bolt sticking out beyond the frame, but leave about 1/8 of and inch to peen down. Caution: don’t let the bolt get so hot you melt the nylon strap. If you melt through the loop the clamp can’t work. (The voice of experience speaking here.)
Peening the threaded end means you batter what is sticking out beyond the nut spreading the end of the bolt so the nut won’t be able to come off.
Final step…take all the twists out of the strap and thread the loose end of the strap through the eye in the ratchet mechanism. You need to feed the strap from the bottom of the clamp to the top so it will draw around the box as you tighten it up.
I keep my supply of these straps hanging on my glue-up table. They are color coded for length since it is awkward gluing up a small box with a longer strap. Hint: I usually put a small block of wood under the ratchet body to prevent denting the wood when the clamp is tightened.
Thanks for working through all these steps with me. This post was really tedious for me, but hopefully it will cover any problems you have with the process. If you have questions ask, please Any comments or suggestions are always appreciated.
-- Big Al in IN