Monday, January 22, 2007

Poor Person's Plano Clamps

My apologies for leaving you all to talk amongst yourselves - not much to report and somehow blogging seemed too much effort. Must Do Better.

Yes, I'm afraid I'm falling out of love with this saw till in a Big Way. When exactly does wood cross the line from "characterful" to "what a mess"? I'm seriously contemplating paint, to be honest. Heck, I was seriously contemplating biscuits and have done with the thing yesterday. Maybe I need a break to do something else? Ah well, January is never a good month for feeling positive, is it?

Anyway, enough folks have expressed interest in my Poor Person's Planos for me to give a brief explanation of them. The background is simple; I've long desired a couple of the rather spiffy "Plano Vertical Glue Press", but unfortunately only have a budget for the rather less spiffy "Four Way Clamping System". Nowadays I don't have enough wall space for the Planos either, but that's by-the-by. Now you're s'posed to use these things on the bench top, but who can afford to tie up bench space with glue ups? And anyway in my experience they squirm about like a greased eel. So I had a Brainwave, and decided to hang them from a batten on the wall instead. Out of the way and reduced squirming - excellent. I've only got two; if I need more clamping pressure I just add an ordinary sash clamp. Being in the corner like this is Not Ideal btw. You really want to have the 4-ways evenly spreading their usefulness.

So, how are they hung on the batten? Well first an orientation picture - you're looking at them from this side, and in fact you can probably see the bolt head in the rear bar, right in the middle of the picture.

So here's a drawing I did a couple of years ago to try and explain it clearly. I may have failed...

One bolt is enough per clamp it seems, and gives you a little leeway where a more rigid fixing could give problems. You can, in theory, have as many clamps in a row as you fancy, but in practice I wouldn't want to have to deal with more than three I think.

One of the drawbacks to this system is that while the rear bar is held up by the bolt everything else is gravity's plaything and thus you need three or four hands to hold everything up and stop the bars slipping out of the notches. It's a pain, but have I done anything about it? Hah, "if it works don't improve it" could be my motto... But an email from a reader about them got me thinking and it could be there's a simple solution. Viz; take a simple swivelling toggle or two, like these rather rugged examples:

... and fit them so they can be swung over the notches and hold the head cross-bar doodah so it won't slip out any more.

The only drawback that's just dawned on me is that they're needed on the notches on the back bar too, which might be tricky not to say finicky. Hmm, s'pose the only thing to do is try.


  1. Thanks for the additional info Alf. The illustration made it very clear.

    Could a shock-cord (bungee)somehow be rigged across the clamps? Into the notches in the outer bar to hold everything together during set-up? Not a very elegant sounding, or looking solution I suppose...

    I just might have to get some to mess with myself...

    Thanks again - Dan in AK

  2. Thanks for that, Alf. I saw the Plano cramps at a woodworking show many years ago and thought 'They're nice' - then I looked at the price and thought 'Blimey!'.

    Cheers :)


  3. Hi Dan, meant to get back to this - sorry! Well I dunno if it's the power of suggestion or what, but if you look at the bottom of the second picture, you'll see I did just that. I use them for keeping everything together when not in use and it occurred to me this time to try it for this glue up. It did sort of help, in a way, but not to the extent that I think it's worth an actual recommendation.

    Paul, yeah, a pretty common reaction! It's noticable that they're one of the few "luxury items" you do actually see in professional workshops though, which is suggestive.


Owing to vast quantities of spam this blog is getting, I'm afraid only registered users can post. All comments are moderated before publication, so there may be some delay. My apologies.