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    • CommentTimeSep 2nd 2009
    Sorry it's been so long since I produced a tip. Had my granddaughters with me all last month and they wore me to a frazzle. Sent them home to New Hampshire (or "New Hamster," as they tell it) last Friday, went to bed, and just now woke up. As fo the tip:

    Two of the most valuable clamps in my shop aren't clamps at all. They are objects that squeeze parts together without clamp jaws or screws. There is no need to find two opposing surfaces to provide a purchase for the clamps and no need to adjust them or make odd-shaped cauls if the angles or the shapes are out of the ordinary. In fact, they automatically conform to any shape and need no cauls at all.

    The first are 25-pound bags of lead shot. I have two of these wrapped in plastic bags so the glue won't stick to the cloth. The pressure is instant and it's evenly distributed over a wide area. They can be draped over any shape, and moved and removed easily. The only drawback is that they only apply pressure in one direction -- down. Well, actually, there is a another drawback. At the present moment, lead shot is very expensive. (When I bought my bags, they were $18 apiece. Recently, I've seen them as high as $60!) This is due to a little stunt that China pulled a few years ago, suddenly buying up lead, tin, copper, and brass by the shipload. Demand and prices rose all over the world. Then, after a few years of frantic trading, they stopped buying -- said they had enough. Prices are now coming down, but it will take the markets some time to return to normal. When they do, I strongly suggest you buy a bag or two of shot. It's unbelievable the number of clamping tasks that they will perform more quickly and with less trouble than any traditional clamp in your shop.

    The second are 1"-wide strips of an inner tube. Actually, two inner tubes -- and automobile inner tube from which I cut 3-foot-long strips and a tractor inner tube from which I cut 6-foot-long strips of a slightly heavier gauge. Of course, if you want even longer strips you can cut them from the tube in a continuous spiral. But I've found if the strips are too long, they are difficult to wrap. If I need longer strips, I just join them with square knots. The rubber can be wrapped around any shape and you can easily adjust the applied pressure by wrapping loose or tight or making additional wraps. And they don't have to be wrapped. On occassion when making the frames of wooden aircraft, I've had to deal with assemblies over a dozen feet long. Tie the ends of the rubber strips to the assembly members (or to small C-clamps attached to the members) and you can squeeze together parts far beyond the capacity of even the largest bar clamps.

    With all good wishes,
    Thanks, Nick. As always you are the ever resourceful craftsman.
    • CommentAuthorAijca
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