Airfield Models - How To

Make Board-Edge Clamps

May 03, 2015



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Airfield Models (http://www.airfieldmodels.com/)How to Make Board-Edge Clamps

I have seen these type clamps included with various tools.  I have one that came with a tool but I don't know where I can get more.  I'm not even sure what their proper name is.

All I do know is I've wanted more of them for some time and it was kind of obvious how to make them.  It just took me a while to get around to it.

Most modelers will have all the tools necessary to make these.  The only things you might have to buy are the actual parts for the clamps which should cost less than $10.00 for enough to make a half-dozen or more of them.

Obviously you can scale these clamps larger or smaller as your needs dictate.  My wire bender can handle 1/4" wire and that's about it.  I can't imagine any application I would have that would require a heavier-duty clamp than that.

 
 

Why Make Board Clamps?

I have a variety of double-faced sanding boards.  These are particularly useful for sanding straight edges on items such as firewalls and other medium length pieces.

In practice I would always rather hold the work with both hands and move it against a sander rather than hold the work in one hand and a sander in the other.  It can't always be done but my sanding boards get more use than any of my sanding blocks.

There are three problems with clamping boards to a bench like this:

The clamps don't really hold the board that securely and it can shift which is very annoying.

They are in the way and I've gouged more than one piece of light balsa when I whacked it against a clamp.

Only the middle of the board is available and the sandpaper wears out while leaving fresh paper along the other edges that can't be used or is difficult to use.

These clamps are also great for small tools bolted to small boards.  You can store the tool easily yet secure it to your bench for use without having it semi-permanently mounted to your bench.  For example, I could cut a board for my Microlux table saw and use these clamps to hold the saw to the bench.

 
 

Making the Clamps

Pieces used to make the clamps. These are the only pieces you need to make a single clamp.  I used 3/16" music wire, a 10-24 x 2" thumb screw (shorter would have been better) and two 10-24 blind nuts.
Tools used to make the clamps. Ok, so not many parts are needed but a lot of tools are.

A Dremel is used to cut the music wire and dress the ends.

Nippers are used to remove the prongs from the blind nuts.

A wire bender is used to bend the clamp to shape.

Solder, a torch (or good iron) and flux brush for soldering the assembly together.

Extra hands are used to hold items while they're being soldered.

Most of these tools can burn or maim you somehow.  Wear good work gloves and eye protection.

Place the wire in the wire-bender. Cut a piece of music wire to the appropriate length.  You'll need to read through this entire article to figure out what the proper length is as it depends on your bench-top thickness.

Add a little extra length so you don't have to get every bend perfectly located without ruining the piece.

The first bend is a half-loop. Make the first bend a half-loop.  It doesn't have to be pretty.
Rotate the piece 90 for the second bend. Rotate the piece 90 for the second bend.
Bend the wire 90. Make the second bend 90.
Sand a flat inside the half-loop. Sand or file a flat on the inside of the bend.  The entire bend doesn't need to be flat just the area where a blind nut will be soldered.
Place the piece back in the wire bender for the final bend. Note that the bend is rotated slightly such that the center of the loop will more or less center on the wire.
A second 90 bend completes the wire bending process. Make a second 90 bend.

The distance between the two bends is dependent on how thick the boards are and how thick your bench top is.

Cut the prongs from both blind nuts. Clip all the prongs from both blind nuts.
Grind off the excess leftover from the prongs. Grind off the excess left over from the prongs.
Remove about half the shank from one blind nut. Cut about half the shank from only one blind nut.  I threaded the blind nut and a locking nut on a piece of 10-24 threaded rod and sanded the end flat using my bench sander.

A Dremel and emery wheel were used to remove the burr around the edge.

Place a blind nut inside the half loop and mark where to remove the excess. Place the short blind nut inside the bend and mark where to remove the excess wire.

Note that the short nut is used for convenience it is not the nut that gets soldered to the clamp.

Use a Dremel and emery wheel to cut off the excess wire. Use a Dremel with an emery wheel to cut off the excess wire.
Put the wire in your Extra Hands and apply flux to the inside of the half-loop and flange of the blind nut. The long blind nut is soldered to the clamp.  Apply flux to the flat part of the clamp and to the inside of the blind nut flange.
Apply solder to the half-loop. Apply solder to the music wire.
Drop the blind nut in place on the molten solder. While the solder is still molten drop the blind nut in place.  Use a wood dowel to push it down.  You may need to apply heat to melt the solder again.
When soldering is complete be very OCD about cleaning up the flux or acid. Be sure to thoroughly clean the clamp to prevent the flux from corroding it particularly if you use soldering acid like I did.

I used a wire brush and warm soapy water to clean the clamp.  I dried it and then oiled it.

A solder fillet around the blind nut. This is probably way more solder than necessary as the clamp pulls the blind nut to it rather than pushing it away.
Thread the thumbscrew into the clamp.  Attach the short blind using permanent Loctite. I used permanent thread locker to attach the short blind nut to the thumb screw after it was threaded into the clamp.  Don't let the thumbscrew protrude past the end of the nut.
Use a vise or strong pliers to crimp the shank of the blind nut to make it extra secure. Finally I put the assembly in my bench vise to crimp the blind nut slightly so I could use it right away instead of waiting for the thread locker to cure.
A set of four board edge clamps. Less than two hours work for all these.
Drill matching holes in whatever boards you want to clamp down. I drilled 3/16" holes in both edges and one end of all my boards.  The holes were a little too tight so I opened them up using a 13/64" bit.
The blind nut helps prevent the clamp from racking over as it's tightened. My thumb screws could have been much shorter.  I can cut off the ends and put on new blind nuts.
roxxon Shop and Miter Saw This is my Proxxon Shop and Miter Saw.  I mostly use it for cutting metal (music wire, large threaded rod, etc.).

It moves around when running so I made a base from 1/2" Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF).

roxxon Shop and Miter Saw mounted to workbench using board edge clamps. I used a Robart Hinge Point Drill Guide for their large hinges to drill 3/16" holes centered on the edge of the board.  The holes were opened up using a 13/64" bit to make the clamps a slip fit.

The board is drilled on all four edges so I can set up the saw however works best for the task at hand.

 
 

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