An exercise in making wooden bar clamps #8: Reflections on the journey

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Blog entry by George_SA posted 10-15-2012 09:31 PM 6305 reads 2 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: The crank handles Part 8 of An exercise in making wooden bar clamps series Part 9: SketchUp plans »

I have one working clamp and five in the last stages of finishing, so the journey has not quite ended, but it has progressed far enough for a final blog entry.

I found this an interesting and satisfying journey with some knowledge gained and skills improved.

Insights gained: 1) This journey took longer than I at first anticipated, but isn’t that part of life? Projects are almost always over budget and they take longer than planned. Fortunately I did not make a specific budget for this project and maybe that is why the overall costs for this project is fairly low. Items I had to purchase was, the threaded rod, nuts, washers, poly finish and some dowel sticks. Al in al I estimate about R200 to R250 ZA ($25 – $30 US) which is not bad for six bar clamps that would have cost me about R2000 ZA ($250 US) if I had to buy them.

2) Some aspects of the making becomes tedious when making a batch of six clamps, especially when you have to make up batches of six and twelve components. However, if I did not take this route I would only have had one or two at the most.

3) Some planning before I started has payed off. My plans provided good direction signposts during the journey, even though I deviated from them slightly as I went along.

4) My experiment with back block payed off. I decided to use wood in stead metal for the holding bars. The tests so far show they are quite solid, though only time will tel on how they hold out in the long run. If they do fail at some point, it wont be too much of a hassle to replace them with beefier wood or metal.

5) If I had to go this route again, I will not use normal pine for the bars as the knots tended to introduce warps end bend bends in the bars that had to be planed out. I don’t have a jointer, so this proved to be quite a bit of a task. I got some practice using my stanleys though, so it is not all bad. My skill with hand planes still has a lot of room for improvement, thus the final result is not as good as it would have been from a jointer. For now, however, I think they are straight enough, even though they are not perfect. I worry that in future some warpage will return. I put a good coat of poly on to hopefully prevent this. This happened in spite of the me having the pine slab for many years. I had hoped that it was seasoned enough so that there would not be wood movement after cutting. Unfortunately there was quite a bit of wood movement. In the future for a similar project I will rather go for a fine straight grain hardwood, even though this may cost a bit more. In the end it will still be cheaper than shop bought clamps. The two clamps that I cut from the Origan pine door post are quite straight. Maybe this is because of the finer grain pattern of Origan pine.

All in all, I enjoyed the journey and would recommend it as a worthwhile endevour.

The final project post is over here.

-- Sometimes life gets in the way of one's woodworking :)

3 comments so far

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3111 days

#1 posted 10-16-2012 04:26 PM

thanks for taking the time to make and share both the blogserie and the project
well done


View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1707 posts in 2185 days

#2 posted 10-16-2012 04:56 PM

A Great build. These are a good combination of function and beauty.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2800 days

#3 posted 10-16-2012 11:05 PM

A very gr8 blog and build. Appreciate all your photos, and what you did. Very well done. Very good lookin clamps.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

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