Self-clamping corner clamps for cabinet making

How to Make Self-clamping 90° corner clamps for easy cabinet making | FREE PLANS

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If you have seen one or more types of right-angle corner clamps for woodworking, you will notice that they all have one thing in common. 

They need clamps!!!

For each woodworking corner clamp, you need at least 2 clamps.
But clamps are expensive, so that could be the reason you don’t own that many of them, just like me. 

With the self-clamping DIY corner clamp, you’ll discover in this article, clamps will be no longer needed.

Learn how you can make this cabinet making jigs for your woodworking workshop.
You will discover how thanks to the included video and step-by-step instructions.

Thanks to the FREE corner clamp PLANS you can download in this article, all the measuring work has been done for you.
So, you can start building cabinet making clamps right away.

So, let me show you how I built it.

What are corner clamps used for?

If you want to connect two boards at an angle of 90 degrees, this can be difficult.
You need both hands to hold the boards in the right position, and at the same time, you also have to screw.
So you are short of hands.
This problem can be solved with a corner clamp.

If you want to connect  two boards at an angle of 90 degrees, the corner clamp needs to be placed on top of the connection.
That way, the corner clamp keeps the boards perfectly in place.
Meanwhile, you can screw without the planks shifting.
Handy, isn’t it?

How many corner clamps do I need?

The best answer to the question of how many corner clamps you need is 4 pieces. I explain why.

Corner clamps will be mainly used in cabinet making.
Because there are 4 corners on a cabinet, you need at least 4 corner clamps.
This way you can clamp each corner of the cabinet at right angles, and be sure that the connections are correct when you start screwing.
After screwing, these clamps can be loosened, and you can use them to make the next cabinet.

That is why a minimum of 4 corner clamps is the most ideal number to have in your workshop.

Watch the video & see how to make a corner clamp

If you want to see how I build my self clamping corner clamps, you can watch the video below. 

After watching this video, you can go on reading this blog to make your own self clamping corner clamps.

Don’t forget to download the free corner clamp plans.
These plans have all the dimensions to help you make yours.

What do you need to make a DIY corner clamp?

To prepare you for building this DIY corner clamp, I have made a few handy lists.

In addition to a few personal protective equipment that I use*, I also list the materials as well as the (power) tools you will need to build this jig.

* Safety is always your own responsibility!

Safety first! protect yourself!

Materials I used for this Corner clamp

(power)Tools I used for this Corner clamp

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How to make self clamping corner clamps?

With these step-by-step instructions below, you can build your cabinet clamps easily.
All the dimensions you need to build them are on the free downloadable cabinet clamp plans. 

Step 1 | Preparation

All the wood I used to make this corner clamp is 18 mm birch plywood.
I used all pieces of scraps from previous projects.
I want to encourage you to save all your pieces of scrap wood from now on.
You can always use them to make smaller projects, like this one.

To start making this corner clamp, I first made the top part of the jig.
This is a triangle that will ensure that the corner you want to connect, when using this corner clamp, is square.
Make sure that this part makes a perfect angle of 90 degrees.

This part will later be connected to the lower part with a bolt.
On the spot where the bolt should be, I drilled a hole with a 14 mm Forstner bit to a depth equal to the thickness of the bolt’s head.
This way, the head of the bolt will be flush with the top of the wood.
In the center of the 14 mm hole, I drilled a hole that goes all the way through the wood with an 8 mm pointed drill bit.

Self-clamping corner clamps for cabinet making

After sanding this part, I placed it in position on a piece of wood from which I cut the bottom of the corner clamp.
For that, I placed two pieces of scrap wood on the edges of the wood. This gave me a reference, to where the triangular part would go, when the corner clamp is in a closed position.

Once that position could be determined, I was able to mark the start of the slot through the hole of the triangular part.

The slot, in the bottom of the corner clamp, will allow the triangular part to move easily forwards or backward.
You will find out more about that later in this article.

Self-clamping corner clamps for cabinet making

Once I had established that point, I also marked all other dimensions to make the corner clamp’s bottom part.

All dimensions, to make this woodworking corner clamp yourself, can be found on the free corner clamp plans that you can download in this article

Self-clamping corner clamps for cabinet making

Step 2 | Making a slot

As mentioned earlier in this article, I made a slot in the lower part of the corner clamp in which the bolt can move up and down.
The bolt I used has a diameter of 8 mm (M8x60mm).

To make the slot, I chose to use a router bit of 10 mm, which ensures that the bolt can move easily.

When making a slot in birch plywood with a router, do it in several steps.
Birchwood tends to burn quickly.
So if you try to remove a lot of wood at once, there is a good chance that burn marks will remain on the wood.

If you do have these burn marks, you can try to remove them with coarse sandpaper.

If you want to know more about sandpaper, be sure to check out this article I published a while back.

Self-clamping corner clamps for cabinet making

Step 3 | Cutting to size

Ok, now it was time to cut out the shape of the bottom part of the corner clamp.
To make the round shape where the jig merges into the handle, I first drilled two holes with the largest Forstner bit I have in my workshop (40 mm).
Then I could start cutting this part.
I tried to cut as much as possible with the crosscut sled, but that was a wrong idea.
I should have cut everything by hand instead. 

Due to the round shape of the saw blade, the blade cut out the bottom just a little further, and at one point I cut into the bottom of this part.
If you watch the video closely, you will definitely see that small error.
I immediately reinforced it by filling this small saw mark with epoxy glue.
The pieces that were not cut through were finished with the Japanese handsaw.

Self-clamping corner clamps for cabinet making

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Step 4 | Assembling

Once I had cut out all the pieces and sanded the edges, I could start assembling.
First, I attached the clamping blocks to the bottom plate.
I did that by gluing them to the base with wood glue and then reinforcing them with a brad nail.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that this is a favorite way of working for me.
The brad nail keeps everything in place while the wood glue dries.
That way I can immediately continue working and not lose any time.

Self-clamping corner clamps for cabinet making


If you consider buying a nail gun, be sure to watch my blog How to choose the right nail gun for your projects. A complete nail gun guide.
I have used my nail gun for almost every project since I bought it, so I can highly recommend buying one.

After placing the M8 bolt through the triangular part and the slot, as well as the hexagon bolt on the top of the jig (at the bottom), the two could be connected together.
For this, I used an ordinary rubber band, something that everyone has at home.
I made three turns in the rubber band, but you can of course give more turns if you want the corner clamp to tighten more.
After placing the rubber band under the washer that was over the hexagon bolt, I tightened this bolt so that the rubber band remains firmly in place.

Self-clamping corner clamps for cabinet making

Where the rubber band is over the M8 bolt, I placed it between two washers.
This way, the rubber band will not prevent the jig from opening or closing.
By placing a washer under the rubber band, it will slide through the slot as if by itself.
To close the two washers, I used two nuts.

Pay attention!
Do not over tighten these nuts against the washers or the jig will have a hard time working.
Tighten the nut slightly so that everything stays together, but the jig can move up and down smoothly.
Once you have determined that point, tighten the second nut against the other nut.
With two wrenches, you can then turn the nuts against each other (turn the bottom nut to the right and the top nut to the left).

Self-clamping corner clamps for cabinet making

Step 5 | Improvements

After a first test, I noticed that the corner clamp worked as I had hoped, but handling the jig was rather difficult.
So I made some minor adjustments.
In the triangular part, I drilled two 18 mm holes with a Forstner drill.
At the bottom of the handle, I made a small indentation with my drum sander.
These holes are just a bit bigger than my fingers.
So I now have a better grip on the corner clamp, and because of this, I can now operate the jig with one hand.

Self-clamping corner clamps for cabinet making

How to use these Corner clamps

It shows itself how to use this corner clamp.
Place your fingers in the holes provided, and pull the jig open until it fits over the material you want to clamp.
Place the corner clamp over the wood and let the jig contract itself by releasing it.
Check whether the connection you want to make fits properly and start screwing, nailing, or whatever you want to do to connect those pieces.

Self-clamping corner clamps for cabinet making

Because you have read this article, chances are that you are very interested in making clamps.
In the past, I built a few other clamps that you should definitely check out.
You can inspire yourself on these blogs:

Strong and simple DIY corner clamp
Easy DIY corner clamps to build cabinets
Prototype: The Stretchy Clamp | A new type of clamp for the workshop
Strong & adjustable workbench hold down clamps

Except for the last one (which is actually very easy to build), there are also free plans available for all of these corner clamps.

Don’t forget to download the cabinet clamp plans for this clip at the bottom of this article, before moving on to these other blogs.

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  1. There is a measurement missing in your plan, it is at the end where you place your thumb to open the clamp. Other than that it is a super idea.

    1. Hi Alexander,
      I’m glad to see you like the idea. About the measurement, that part depends on the size of the fingers the person has who will work with this jig. You can make that to the size of your thumb.
      I hope this can help you.
      Greetings, Christophe

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