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One-Handed Cam Clamp

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Project by GnarlyErik posted 581 days ago 3838 views 48 times favorited 19 comments

image image image image
Universal One-Handed Cam-Clamp Design
It is very handy to be able to clamp something with one hand while holding it with your other hand, mouth, leg, foot, etc. Old-style boat builders
make many of their clamps, and some are very specialized, for deep-reach, single purpose, etc. Here is a one-handed version to share with those
who like to make their own clamps. Most homebuilt clamps are made of wood, but other structural materials could be substituted. Wooden clamps
do not usually generate the clamping power of a metal clamp.
This style is intended to make its initial grab by cam action, then additional pressure can be applied by a wing nut on a threaded rod or modified
bolt. Almost any size desired is possible, so long as some general parameters are followed. First and most obvious, the wood must be suitable a
sound hardwood like oak, ash, hickory or maple, with the grain parallel to the throat of the clamp is needed. Secondly, the width of the clamp arms
should be at least 3 times the width of the broach (slot) needed for the threaded rod. The rod itself should be robust enough to handle the load I
use 5/16 -18 TPI or 3/8 16 TPI with appropriate sized wing nuts for my 3-6 throat clamps.
The rod anchor point should be about 5% (or more) past the centerline of the distance between the clamp hinge point and the jaws, towards the
hinge point. The anchor pivot should be low down in the meat of the lower arm to avoid weakening in the arm. The radius of the curve for the cam
section of the arm should be shorter than the length of the working part of the rod by 5% to 10% or so (the shorter in relation, the more jaw
movement). The sketch shows the overall arrangement. Patterns from stiff cardboard are made to play around with to be sure everything works
together properly before you commit to stock. Patterns are a must for making multiple copies in any case.
The hinge is anything that works. Leather tacked to each arm serves, as do actual cabinet hinges. There is little or no strain on the hinge as all the
pressure is on the contact point of the two arms. Short pieces of steel flat bar with the ends radiused, and pinned to each piece will serve, but your
must be careful on jaw alignment. The hinge should be centered on the desired jaw opening so that the jaws align with each other in action, both up
and down and crosswise.
Arms are as long as you wish for deep throat clamps, by locating the rod further towards the hinge, but your leverage (jaw pressure) will be
correspondingly reduced. The jaws may be fixed, or movable to align with irregular shapes. There are several ways to make them moveable, but
watch to be sure they end up where you wish in action. (see photos). I am thinking of making myself clamps with hard rubber balls as jaws to use
for delicate work for example I just have to figure out how to hold the balls to the arms.
In use, the wing nut is roughly adjusted to close to the size needed. Then the clamp is applied to the work and the rod and wing nut pushed up the
shoulder of the top arm of the clamp with the thumb. When the clamp has grabbed sufficiently to hold things in place, the wing nut is then used to
apply more pressure on the stock.
I usually put a little grab handle thingy on one arm of the clamp to hold on to in use, and this can be on either the upper or lower arm.
-- Candy is dandy and rum may be fun, but wood working is the best high for me!
19 comments so far
a1Jim
111999 posts in 2144 days
#1 posted 581 days ago
These are way cool Erik,Great job.
-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture
HillbillyShooter
4148 posts in 859 days
#2 posted 581 days ago
These are really neat! Thanks for sharing and for the great write up. Are the drawings available anywhere?
-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George
Washington
GnarlyErik
178 posts in 701 days
#3 posted 581 days ago
HillbillyShooter see my sketch in photos section . . .
-- Candy is dandy and rum may be fun, but wood working is the best high for me!
dakremer
2416 posts in 1658 days
#4 posted 581 days ago
I dont quite get where the cam action is coming from
Any chance of a video of it in action. I just dont get how it clamps without screwing down the wingnut
-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!
Dennisgrosen
10850 posts in 1682 days
#5 posted 581 days ago
nice to see a new design :-)
looking good .. and a great instrution
though I have to agree with Dakremer
how does it clamp with pressure with out using the wingnut
take care
Dennis
Oldtool
1699 posts in 758 days
#6 posted 581 days ago
I too, like Dakremer and dennisgrosen, couldnt figure out the one hand operation, until I noticed the slot in the upper
arm. Your good description led me to look for that. Perhaps a top photo would clear things up a bit.
Thanks for showing, these are cool.
-- "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
balidoug
363 posts in 1046 days
#7 posted 581 days ago
Many thanks for a great clamp, and many more for including the drawing.
-- From such crooked wood as that which man is made of, nothing straight can be fashioned. Immanuel Kant
GnarlyErik
178 posts in 701 days
#8 posted 580 days ago
I apologize for not being more clear in my write up about the camming action. The rod with the wing nut rides in a slot
cut in the upper armed (see drawing where it is labeled broach area last photo). The rod is swung back in the slot in
the open position (photo 1) and pushed forward on the shoulder of the curve with the thumb to close the jaws (photo 2).
So long as the radius of the curve on the arms shoulder (between the rod pivot point and the curve) is LESS than the
length of the distance of the rod between its pivot point and the wing nut, the curved shoulder acts as a cam to close the
jaws enough to grip, then the wing nut is tightened to apply additional pressure. In the example pictured, there is only
about 3/8 1/2 cam distance, but more can be had by making the radius for the curve in the arm shorter. See text of
the original write up.
It helps to note the difference in positions of the wing nut in the first two photos. I hope this helps to understand!
-- Candy is dandy and rum may be fun, but wood working is the best high for me!
Ken90712
14812 posts in 1756 days
#9 posted 580 days ago
Great job, a really cool tool Well done.
-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"
Mauricio
6720 posts in 1718 days
#10 posted 580 days ago
Brilliant! I love shop made clamps. Thanks for sharing!
-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O.
Nitsch
OregonWoodRat
113 posts in 854 days
#11 posted 580 days ago
Thanks for the write up. Also thanks for explaning the cam action. It is much more clear now. I think I am going to try
making some this weekend.
-- Peter, A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.
Von
176 posts in 780 days
#12 posted 580 days ago
just the other day I was thinking about a very similar clamp design. but you have this nailed down already. I might just
have to uh borrow your design here. hehe
Dennisgrosen
10850 posts in 1682 days
#13 posted 580 days ago
got it thanks Erik
take care
Dennis
majuvla
3080 posts in 1434 days
#14 posted 580 days ago
Its always nice to see home made inspiration.
-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted
Dutchy
407 posts in 735 days
#15 posted 579 days ago
Thank you for sharing. When there is time I am also making a couple.
-- My englisch is bad but how is your dutch?
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