Building Clamps

Building ukuleles is great fun but I miss the projects that can be completed in a day. Recently, I realized that I could improve one of my glue-up procedures.clamps 050

Notice the clamps in the middle of the hole. They are the ones that clamp the soundwell to the top. Once I put a few in, there is no room for more. Time to buy more clamps! After looking online I realized that, not only did no one sell exactly what I wanted, but I wouldn’t be able to afford them even if they did exist. Time to get creative.

I poked around my scrap pile and found some nice mahogany that would do the trick. I also had some 1/2″ aluminum tube. I made a few drawings and created a prototype with what I had on hand. It’s always better to make your mistakes on one prototype than on the production run (in this case, 12 clamps). After fixing a few problems with this first clamp, I bought a few supplies at The Home Despot and started production.

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I used a jig on the drill press to drill all my holes in the appropriates spots.


clamps 055I moved to the lathe to turn the clamp handles. I used a variety of hard whitewoods for this.


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Drilling a centered hole using a forstner bit


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clamps 059I then snugged up the tailstock for support and proceeded to shape and decorated the handle.


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Once I was done on the lathe, I found that I could press fit the screw into the handle by mounting the two pieces in my vise and using it like an arbor press.

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Next, I moved to the bandsaw and cut the handle roughly to shape.

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Shaping and smoothing on the sander.

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Time for assembly. I used Loc-Tite on the nuts to hold them in place.

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Completed clamps. I added pieces of cork to protect the instrument body and I finished the wood with walnut oil.

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Oh yes – you mustn’t forget leaving your mark for posterity!

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Once completed, I promptly put them to the test. There’s a uke in there somewhere!

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Published in: on May 23, 2013 at 6:02 pm  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Fantastico! A life well lived!

  2. You’re my hero.

  3. mine too!

  4. Nice!

  5. Neat story and good product. Dad.

  6. You so smart!

    Sent from my iPhone

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