Woodworking began when the first person figured out how to join two pieces of wood together – probably lashing it together with some vines. And woodworkers through the centuries have continued to use that and other methods to hold it all together. I actually learned to hammer with nails before I earned the knot-tying merit badge. Pretty soon thereafter, I discovered that nails were not the end-all-be-all of joining, as my brothers over ran my castle in record time. There are of course fancy ways to cut wood in order to hold it together (i.e. the “You’re Not a Woodworker Until You Can Cut Perfect Dovetails With Only a Butter-knife and Fishing Wire” method), but the most accessible to beginning woodworkers – after mechanical fasteners (N.B. Nails are useless, see childhood story above, and screws require drilling holes first and can still come apart on purpose or not on purpose) – is glue. Now glue is only mentioned as a precursor to the real hero of this post, which is why it is not entitled: Oceans and Oceans of Glue, But Still Don’t Eat It. Glue needs to cure or setup; and in order to produce the strongest bond, it needs to stay in place for a period of time. Holding wood together while the glue dries can be done with a few of different methods, such as with nails (the only thing they are really good for) or screws (big unsightly metal plus signs staring at you), or CLAMPS!!! Not to delve into the only acceptable obsession of woodworkers of all stripes, but they are pretty handy. And there certainly are a plethora of types (a non-exhaustive, alphabetical list): angle clamps, band clamps, bar clamps, c-clamps, corner clamps, f-clamps, frame clamps, pipe clamps, parallel clamps, spring clamps, and wood screw clamps. The second thing you discover after their plenitude is their price. A set of 3/4″ pipe clamp mechanisms will cost you $36 and two 48″ pipes are another $26. Or you can get a 24″ f-clamp for around $12 a piece or a 48″ one for $25. Start adding it up and it gets pretty expensive, pretty quick. So for the the price of less than one 48″ f-clamp, you can build 4 traditional-style wood screw clamps, normally $18 a piece. These clamps are fairly simple to make, a perfect project for a beginning woodworker and require only a minimum number of tools. Besides being a great help in the shop, it also gives your shop ‘the look’ that real woodworking happens there.
Hey … It Works!