Sunday, July 29, 2012

Building: Mr Warmth on Pipe Clamps

How I made my awesome bar clamps for cheap(er)

If you have tried to build any large furniture item, you have no doubt wished at some point that you had a third hand or something to hold "that end onto that end" so you could screw it down.  Enter in the bar clamp.  Bar clamps are simple devices that have spring-loaded plates that slide along a bar while "open" and then lock into position when released.  The clamp is made tight by turning the screw handle.  If you have priced these things out, you have come to the conclusion like I did that "those will have to wait."  A few weeks ago I actually placed 3 such bar clamps in a shopping cart and anticipated the day I could finally make the purchase.  I decided that I needed one long one and two medium sized ones which translated to one 96" and two 60" clamps.  "Google" "Jorgensen bar clamps" in those lengths and you will find they will set you back about $51.99 for the 96" and about $38.99 for the 60 inchers.  

So as I was contemplating this purchase and dreaming of the uses for them, (translation: finally building a farmhouse table, a entertainment center, a clubhouse bed, mudroom lockers...) I was in Menards (they didn't pay me, I just prefer it because of its lumber over the other two big box stores, but I frequent all three about the same) (another sent of parentheses: HD has them too I later learned) and ran across these  (they are actually made by the same company so no business is lost by the making of this post)  Now this was amazing.  

So this is what you do: you purchase 3 sets of these clamp kits for $17 and then you go to the plumbing section and ask for "Black Pipe" in 3/4 (or 1/2 if that is clamp kit you grabbed--what do you mean you didn't look at the pipe size on the kit package?  take back those 1/2 inchers you fool; the pipe is too flimsy at those lengths.  where were we...oh yah, its a rigid pipe most often used in propane applications.  You can say that to the store employee--they'll think you quote google sites a lot to try to look smart.  You could also go with the shiny galvanized pipe right next to the black pipe but it costs a few dollars more.  but oohh itss sshiny...  So you ask for help (the hardest part of the whole process) and you ask for 2 10' black pipes please.  Then you ask them to cut one of the 10' pipes into two equal 5' pipes while you wait.  I thought about having the other 10' foot pipe cut down to 8 feet but then I thought wait just a gol darn minute here...I've been wanting a 96" bar clamp because that was the biggest size I had seen, but if I leave this pipe at 10', I will have a 10 foot bar clamp.  Then grunt like Tim Allen...then look up and start eyeing the 12' and 14' pipe before telling yourself you can't fit that in your truck or your house doors very easily.  Anyhoo, this black pipe is threaded on both ends so when you get home you attach the threaded clamp piece on that end and slide the other piece over the end (oh and make sure they face each other...unless you are trying to stretch something out...HOLY COW you just realized you have a 10' stretching device as well, let's see what could I do with that...) and viola you now have two 60" bar clamps and one 10' bar clamp for... get this: $17 + $17 + $17 + the pipe which was about $11 each.  So in the end you spend about $75 vs. $130.  Hey every bit counts right, and that $55 I saved can now go towards a new router.


  1. I decided that I needed one oetiker stepless clamps long one and two medium sized ones which translated to one 96" and two 60" clamps.

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