This week I worked on the hood details of my tall clocks – the plinths for brass finials. The parts are small. As I worked, I discovered that my handscrew clamps were often drawn into action. These clamps are a great way to hold small parts.
The center plinth had to be shaped with a small radius cut at the front and sides. The first use of the handscrew was to hold the two (one of each clock) plinths face to face so I could easily drill the front radius; one 3/8″ forestner bit cut and created a small 3/16″ radius. I then went to my spindle sander to form a similar radius on each of the two sides of the plinth.
After the radius was created, I had to remove the material left below and sanding away that amount was too time-consuming. Band saw, here I come. At the saw, I wasn’t going to hold the plinth with my hand. Handscrew to the rescue. With the small part locked in the clamp, it was easy to trim the waste.
Two more uses for what should be a staple in the shop. And I find old clamps best, so shop auctions in you’re looking to add handscrews to your selection.
The hood (shown below) is coming along great. I now need to begin final sanding and finish. Below is a look at the hood without the brass finials. I need to get those ordered. At $70 each, I’m not in a big rush.
Build Something Great!
Glen D. Huey
I gonna bet that many of you reading this post do not have any of these clamps in your arsenal. You should. Handscrew clamps do not do a lot in my shop, but when I do put them to use, they work. My primary use of handscrews is to hold parts upright as I work. What they do not do, unless I have an odd setup to clamp or need a great amount of force, is clamp parts together. The combination of threaded rods and pivoting barrel nuts allows for large amounts of torque and for these clamps to move into odd shapes to grip and clamp.
The problem today, is that the handscrews we have available in most stores and online are not the same as the old clamps my Dad purchased 30 years ago. And not all old handscrews are worthwhile either – I hate handscrews with wooden dowel rods. I think they’re junk. At the right is a photo of a relatively new handscrew I have in the shop. A close look shows a mixture of wood dust and cobwebs. I don’t use these often.
I don’t know why these are so different. It may be the arrangement and location of the barrel nuts, or it could be that over time parts wear to make actions smoother. Whatever it is, I suggest you grab any old handscrews when your find them. I scout antique malls and old farm auctions – if I run across any this day and age. I’m sure you can find them if you hang out with old tool collectors, but those guys know the value and I doubt you get a steal.
Below are two examples of how I use handscrews. In the top photo I position the clamps to hold the clock waist sides vertical as I attach a face frame. (Yes, in the photo my face frame is already attached.) The bottom photo shows how you can use handscrews to hold something from moving. Clamps grip the case and butt against the front edge of my bench to make it easy to cut grooves for stringing.
If you have handscrews in your clamp arsenal, leave a comment to let me know how you use them and how much you use them while woodworking.
Build Something Great!