Handy Handscrews

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Forum topic by Greg Guarino posted 04-07-2014 10:45 AM 1183 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Greg Guarino

50 posts in 1735 days

04-07-2014 10:45 AM

I remember that we had handscrews back in shop class in high school, although I’m a little hazy on exactly what we used them for; this would have been in 1973 or so. I do recall that they seemed a little complex to use at first.

I “inherited” a couple of 14” clamps a while back and used them here and there, and when I saw a good deal on some 12” handscrews, I bought a pair. Still, they seemed like specialty items, to be used chiefly when their longer “reach” was necessary.

But over time (not that much time, I’m still a novice), I’ve discovered just how handy they can really be. I think of them now as portable vises. I’m making (very slowly, in my non-existent spare time) a kitchen shelf unit. Yesterday’s task was to glue on some 1×2 oak trim around three sides of the main shelf. It’s big: 94” x 12”.

I would normally have done this with the shelf laying down, probably lifted above the work table on some pieces of scrap. But then I had a better idea:

Attaching the Oak Trim

Attaching the Oak Trim

In this orientation gravity would be on my side for once, at least for the longest piece, and there was plenty of room below the work piece for attaching clamps.

Attaching the Oak Trim

It was very convenient. I’ll bet I’ll need this “system” again sometime.


7 replies so far

View Oldtool's profile


2739 posts in 2397 days

#1 posted 04-07-2014 11:47 AM

I agree, these are very handy to have around the shop. I have 4 large ones I purchased on Ebay for next to nothing, yet no matter how many times I use them, they still continue to confuse me on how to get a good parallel jaw grip. I guess more practice is needed.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Greg Guarino's profile

Greg Guarino

50 posts in 1735 days

#2 posted 04-07-2014 03:32 PM

Here I think I can actually be of help. Get the jaws parallel at some random opening. I generally do this by eye, but you can close the jaws all the way; then they will certainly be parallel.

Now hold one handle in each hand with the jaws oriented vertically and “crank” the handles like you were reeling in a hose. [With larger handscrews you’ll have to watch that you don’t hit yourself in the face with the spinning jaws]

“Cranking” the clamp this way keeps the jaws parallel, but increases or decreases the opening between them. Get it pretty close to the opening you need, then apply it to the work. You can then rotate the two handles at the same time until the clamp is tight, or alternate turning each handle a little at a time.


View waho6o9's profile


8525 posts in 2783 days

#3 posted 04-07-2014 04:41 PM

Notch a square in them and it increases their versatility.

View Airframer's profile


3043 posts in 2159 days

#4 posted 04-07-2014 04:47 PM

I have found that if I set the back screw the thickness of the piece I intend to clamp plus a turn of the handle then all you have to do is tighten the front screw and you get a good parallel clamp. If you need more pressure on the nose of the clamp turn the rear handle open and vise verse.

-- Eric - "I'm getting proficient with these hand jobbers. - BigRedKnothead"

View runswithscissors's profile


2898 posts in 2231 days

#5 posted 04-09-2014 05:01 AM

They also make a handy hand vise when you need to machine small pieces on the router or whatever. Keeps your hands away from the carbide.

Grizzly sells the kits (screws and “dowels”) to make your own. You can make the jaws as long as you want for deep engagement clamps.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3854 days

#6 posted 04-09-2014 05:04 AM

I have a few but for the applications you are showing I use
K-body and cam clamps. I have some Jorgensen long parallel
jaw clamps but they have a ridge that would interfere with
these sorts of setups even if they were short enough to
be practical for them.

I like hand screws. They are the right tool for the job sometimes.

View Greg Guarino's profile

Greg Guarino

50 posts in 1735 days

#7 posted 04-09-2014 10:33 AM

Here’s another application. Like a really long vise:

Sanding the Trim

I used it for sanding some long trim.


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