Benchtop Hold-Downs Offer Flexible Clamping
I needed to clamp together a complex assembly with pieces arranged at a couple of different levels. But my standard clamps lacked the reach and versatility that I needed, so I came up with a benchtop clamping system that adjusts to most any project.
I based the system on Pony #56 Pipe Clamps, which have the release clutch and clamping screw both located in the head assembly. I began by drilling 1 1/16" holes through my benchtop and then mounting pipe flanges on the underside of the bench.
Now, I can mount 3/4" pipes of various lengths in the flanges, then slide one or more Pony #56 clamps onto the pipes. To hold a piece above the benchtop, I flip the bottom clamp upside down, then clamp the workpiece between the two opposing clamps.
The flange threads are tapered, so you can screw a threaded pipe end into the flared end of the flange only. You need to position the flange with the flared end facing upward, and add a 3/4"-thick wooden “doughnut.” Also, when mounting the flange, install a piece of pipe in it for proper alignment.
When I'm not using the clamps, I drop short pieces of 3/4" schedule 40 PVC into the holes. They sit on top of the flanges, flush with the benchtop, and give me a plastic-reinforced hole that fits a 3/4"- diameter bench dog.
- Aaron Butler, Danville, Pa.
For more in-depth information on gluing and clamping, visit our Gluing and Clamping section in the WOOD Store.