Clamps and More Clamps

besseyclamps

Assortment of Bessey Clamps

Luthiers And Their Clamps:

Luthiers can never have enough clamps. That’s almost like saying women can never have enough clothes or kids can never have enough toys. But it IS true. Just when you think you have enough of one kind of clamp, there is a need for 2 more or a different clamp. But – what should you purchase?

That is where we will guide you. This article will give you the best of the best so you don’t go out and buy a bunch of clamps and find out that will not meet a specific purpose for you next gluing operations.

First, let’s look at some of the different clamps that are available:

C-Clamps:

When we refer to these clamps, they are the cast iron body, heavy screw type clamps. These are available in a wide variety of sizes from little 1″ clamps to 8″ or larger. Note the dimension given indicates the open size that the clamp will fit. So a 4″ clamp will clamp stock up to 4″ thick.

Likes:
You can clamp with as much pressure as you like.
They are relatively inexpensive

Dislikes:
Very slow to adjust.
They Can Rust
They tend and mar the wood surface

How Many Should You Have?
(8) 4″ medium duty C Clamps
(8) 6″ Medium duty C Clamps
(4) 8″ heavy duty C Clamps
(2) 6-Inch Aluminum Deep Reach C-Clamp

C-Clamp Uses:
Neck Scarf Joints
Laminated Necks Together
Neck Heal Block Stacks
Headstock Veneer
Fingerboards on Neck
Head Block to Sides
Tail Blocks To Sides
Gluing Bridges

Bessey Bar Clamps:

These clamps have been life-savers for me. I absolutely love them. The are also available in a wide variety of sizes. They have jaw protectors for the wood, adjust easily and quickly and put a great lot of clamping pressure where its needed. These clamps can replace most of the needs for C clamps.

Likes:
Clamping pressure is very high, although not quite as high as C-clamps.
Fast adjusting
Available in very deep throats
Jaw protectors do not dent up wood
Do not rust

Dislikes:
Relatively expensive
Bigger ones are heavy
Not real good for lighter duties

How Many Should You Have?
(8) 4″ x 8″ Bessey Regular Duty Tradesman
(4) 5-1/2″ x 12″ Bessey Heavy Duty Tradesman
(12) (8) 2-1/2″ x 12 Bessey Regular Duty Tradesman

The Dream Clamp Set:

Never want to worry about buying a clamp again? Consider the Bessey Clamp Collection. It’s seems expensive a $1,899.00, buy you get 69 Bessey Clamps to address everything you will ever need for woodworking: If you are not up for that consider about three of the Bessey Homeowner Clamp Kits, which include about (6) clamps in each collection, put a few spring clamps, and other accessories you will use. $89.00 out the door. These incredible clamps can be used as follows.

Bessey Bar Clamp Uses:
Neck Scarf Joints
Laminated Necks Together
Neck Heal Block Stacks
Headstock Veneer
Fingerboards on Neck
Head Block to Sides
Tail Blocks To Sides
and much more…..

Just a side note on the Bessey Clamps. I recently visited my local Home Depot and found that they are handling miniature Bessey Clamps. These little jews have about a 4″ jaw capacity, are lightweight and perfect for many luthier gluing operations. As I recall they were only about $3.00 each so I bought a couple dozen of them, and I use them all the time.

Wooden Cam Clamps:

Even though you may have a good collection of C Clamps and Bessey Bar Clamps, it is always nice to have of few of the Wooden Cam Clamps at your finger tips too.

Likes:
Fast Adjusting – The fastest of any clamp
Very light weight
Available in very deep throats
Jaw protectors do not dent up wood
Do not rust

Dislikes:
Relatively expensive
Bigger ones are heavy
Light clamping pressure

How Many Should You Have?
(4) 4-1/2″ x 16″ open Wooden Cam Clamps
(4) 4-1/2″ x 8″ open Wooden Cam Clamps
(4) 8-1/2″ x 8″ open Wooden Cam Clamps

Uses:
Gluing the Bridge
Gluing braces
Helper clamps for gluing the back and top if needed
Side reinforcement braces
Head Blocks
Tail Blocks
Fingerboard helper clamps

Wait…You Can Make the Wood Cam Clamps if you want to. Here is an article on just how to do that. If can give you a great feeling to make some of your own tools. Article: How to make your own Wooden Cam Clamps.

Spring Clamps:

I run hot and cold on these clamps. But when you need a little extra help and it does not need to be much more than hard finger pressure, this is the ticket. I do have several coffee cans full of these clamps and they are very useful. Don’t buy the cheap ones though – you will be throwing your money away. They twist and the jaw protectors rip and come off very quickly. I really like the all plastic spring clamps and I would buy a boatload of these if not for all the metal ones I already have.

Likes:
Very fast clamping
Inexpensive
No need for jaw protection
I like the plastic or resin models

Dislikes:
Not many uses in the Guitar Shop

How Many You Should Have:
(60) Mini Resin Spring Clamps: for gluing lining.
(12) 4″ Resin Spring Clamps: for utility usage when you need an extra hand.
(4) Ratcheting Resin Spring Clamps: these come in really handy and you can apply a tremendous amount of pressure with them.

Uses:
Mini Clamps are used for gluing the lining for the guitar back support.
Gluing side braces in place
Helper clamps for bracing
Other light duty clamping duties

Spring Clamp Alternative:
An alternative for the use of spring clamps to glue the lining on the sides of your guitar would be to use wooden clothes pins and wrap 1/4″ x 2 or 3″ rubber bands around the jaws – just below the joint. These have the perfect angle for clamping and are very C-H-E-A-P.

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