Conquer Your Clamp Conundrums with These Simple Solutions
by Tim Johnson
“You can’t have too many clamps,” a wise cabinetmaker once told me. That’s certainly true, but in a small shop, you can easily run out of room to store them. One clamp is so different from another that no single rack can accommodate them all in a compact space. Most woodworkers benefit from a variety of storage solutions.
Here are seven broad concepts to stimulate your creative thinking. Each design contains one big idea tailored for a specific type of clamp. Mix and match to fit your assortment and your space. Just be sure to leave room for more!
Conduit Fits All the Shorties
If you have room for only one rack for your short clamps, build this one. It accommodates a wide variety of shapes—almost anything that has jaws. The rack even holds C-clamps and quick-release clamps, which usually have to be tightened to stay on a board for storage. Simply hook them over the metal conduit. Conduit is superior to using a wooden dowel rod because it is stiffer and more durable.For most clamps, position the conduit 2 in. from the wall. Strategically locate a second length of conduit to support the bars of long clamps.
Make Big Brackets
These sturdy 12-in. x 16-in. brackets are great for storing lots of long, heavy clamps in a narrow space. The 2x4 brackets are wide enough for pipe and bar clamps. Use 2x6s to store K-body-style and deep-throated adjustable clamps.
Dado a 45-degree support board into each bracket. Screw the brackets to the cleats from the back, leaving 2-in. spaces between for the clamps’ bars. Then fasten the brackets to the wall.
Throw ’Em in a Tub
Oddball clamps won’t become lost if you keep them together in a utility tub, which costs about $3 at a discount store. Tubs are a great way to store and transport spring clamps, C-clamps and small hand screws. Lidded tubs can even be stacked.
Stack ’Em Up
Hands down, this is my favorite way to store hand screws. Simply saw angled dadoes in one edge of a 2x4. Size the dadoes so the sticks for hanging the clamps fit tightly. Glue and screw the sticks to the 2x4 and fasten the 2x4 to the wall. This rack also works great for hanging loads of spring clamps.
Without notches on a mobile cart, one bump can send your clamps flying. The boards that you notch should be wide enough to fully support the clamps’ heads. The trick is to make the notches deep enough for a clamp’s head and wide enough so the clamp’s bar is easy to insert and remove.
To make half-round notches for pipe clamps, drill holes down the middle of a wide board. Rip through the center of the holes to make two support boards, each with half-round holes.
Metal Brackets Serve Double Duty
Got long clamps you want to keep handy? Use heavy-duty 12-in. shelf brackets. (They’re great for lumber, too.) This rack works well for long, heavy clamps because it stores them horizontally, making it easy to remove, use and return them. When you need one, simply pick it up and lay it down on your project. You won’t have to twirl or hoist them the way you would if you stored long clamps in a vertical rack.
Heavy-duty shelf brackets are available at home centers; the slotted standards come in short lengths for a dedicated clamp rack.
For regular pipe and adjustable clamps, storage doesn’t get much easier than this. Simply fasten 2x2 cleats behind a 2x4 and fasten the cleats to the wall. The 1-1/2 in.-deep space provided by the cleats accommodates most clamp heads. Long clamps will wiggle their way off a single rack and fall, however. Install a second board below to keep them upright and stable. Clamps store compactly with this solution, but the more clamps you have, the more wall space you’ll use.
This story originally appeared in American Woodworker November 2006, issue #125.
November 2006, issue #125
Purchase this back issue.
Filed under: Blog Post test, Gluing and Clamping, Storage, Blog Post, woodworking, woodworking projects, woodworking equipment, woodworking shop, woodworkers, CI, woodworking shop projects, woodworking shop plans, woodworking plans