Poorboy Parallel Clamps…questions from a Woodworker

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Blog entry by Bob Simmons posted 02-24-2011 02:41 AM 3830 reads 3 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Woodworker 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

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?
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.

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..........Learn more, Experience more!

-- Bob Simmons, Las Vegas, NV,

9 comments so far

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3285 days

#1 posted 02-24-2011 03:08 AM

good blog Bob :-)

there is only one clamp type as cheap as this and with a greater force build in

but…but have a great limitation …it need a surface to be screwed into and that
is two blocks and four wedges for every poorboyclamp

take care

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10291 posts in 4222 days

#2 posted 02-24-2011 03:10 AM

I can see One Poorboy Clamp on top of another!

Picture this, to have a fully adjustable poorboy:

Have a poorboy clamp around the each Pillow block to hold it in place against the workpiece…?
... maybe using wedges too…?

Might not work… you’d just about have to try it & play with it a little…

... also, maybe the use of velcro would help… as a non-slip edge…?

Just some thoughts…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3893 days

#3 posted 02-24-2011 03:20 AM

I have to admit that I have never seen these clamps before, but I won’t forget about them now that I have seen them. Several times I can see these coming in handy.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View swirt's profile


3294 posts in 3142 days

#4 posted 02-24-2011 05:05 AM

Bob Simmons wrote :2.) ... 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) ;)

I think you are absolutely right on this one. Your physics is correct ;)

-- Galootish log blog,

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 3058 days

#5 posted 02-24-2011 05:07 AM

An option when you have no bench to nail the clamp pillow blocks to would be two parallel beams. Set the lower block in a convenient pair og holes and then use a pair of wedges between it and the item to be clamped and tap rhem into place until enough clamping pressure is achieved.

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View Bob Simmons's profile

Bob Simmons

505 posts in 3184 days

#6 posted 02-24-2011 05:20 AM


The clamp system you mention would work very well for glue-ups of a uniiform width. That way you could just leave the blocks screwed in for as long as needed. Simply glue the material, wedge it between the blocks, let the glue set up, remove the glued pieces, and repeat the process. Surely, there’s a place for that type clamping system.


As they say…”Don’t touch that dial.” The poorboy clamp does not need to be adjusted or tweaked. No need for velcro as that would drive up the cost. Remember the formula…Kiss…


There’s a first time for everything. Now that you have seen the poorboy clamps you will find certainly find a use for them. Remember, use a softer wood for the pillow block. It won’t slip nor mar a finished surface if used correctly.

-- Bob Simmons, Las Vegas, NV,

View Bob Simmons's profile

Bob Simmons

505 posts in 3184 days

#7 posted 02-24-2011 05:32 AM


You must be referring to my disclaimer…”woodworker here, not a rocket scientist.”…;)


You are referring to Dennis’ style clamping system. I agree two parallel beams would work very well with wedges placed wherever they are needed. You would certainly have enough clamping pressure especially with the flexibility of where you could place the wedges. Again…this would work especially well if you had multiple widths of equal size to glue-up. Great idea! Thanks for sharing.

-- Bob Simmons, Las Vegas, NV,

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 3010 days

#8 posted 02-24-2011 06:09 AM

did someone say poboy, oh sorry thats the cajun blood showing. ;)

Bob I do like the thought of on the job, any length, light weight and readily available because there is never any lack of scraps.

I like my poboy with fried oysters and holanase sauce and a habanero.. yum yum

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View Bob Simmons's profile

Bob Simmons

505 posts in 3184 days

#9 posted 02-24-2011 11:34 PM


You’ll find a lot of different ways to use these clamps once you begin working with them. Obviously, they are well employed when you are gluing in the horizontal position. However, they also work great when gluing in the vertical position…(for example mitered panels being wrapped around a column.)

Then again, maybe you just need to hold something together temporarily. The poorboy parallel clamps can do it. It’s pretty much up to your imagination. Lots of scraps = lots of poorboys. Dave, how about sending one of those poboys my way?

-- Bob Simmons, Las Vegas, NV,

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