Strong & adjustable workbench hold down clamps

Strong & adjustable workbench hold down clamps

Build a workshop | Woodworking jigs
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If you want to clamp your workpiece on your workbench you will place your workpiece on the edge of the workbench and clamp it with any clamp available in your shop. But what if you have to clamp in the middle of your workbench?

If you have dog holes in your work table, just like me, the workbench hold down clamps discussed here are the perfect solution.

You will love this design because they are very easy to make at a very low price.

In this blog you will learn more about workbench hold down clamps and I will show you step by step how to make them yourself.

 

Let’s go!

There are different types of hold down clamps on the market, but the principle is the same for each one.

The hold down clamp uses a downward force to press a workpiece firmly against your workbench or any other surface.
In this way, you can work on the workpiece without it moving.
You can also use the hold down clamps when you want to glue parts together and let the glue harden under pressure.

Watch the video here

Before we start building

To prepare you for building this project, 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!

Building the workbench hold down clamps step by step

As I mentioned earlier, the workbench hold down clamps are very easy to make. You can make these in about an hour with materials that you probably already have in your workshop.

The wood I used was scraps of plywood I had lying around. The only thing I had to buy extra was a metal rod with a diameter of 10 mm.

I will show you step by step how I build the workbench hold down clamps.

Step 1 | Making the base of the workbench hold down clamps

For the base of the workbench hold down clamps I used a piece of scrap 18 mm plywood of 3 by 9 cm.

I marked a line in the exact center parallel to the longest side.

At both sides at 2 cm from the end of that line, a center point was determined where I drilled the holes.

Since both the t-nut and the metal rod required a 10 mm diameter hole, I could make these holes with the same drill. I used a brad-pointed drill for this.

Strong & adjustable workbench hold down clamps

Tip:

If you want to know more about drill bits for woodworking, be sure to check out my blog: 7 Essential types of drill bits for woodworking

Everything you need to know about drill bits can be found in this article. 

After making the holes I trimmed the corners with my drill press drum sander.

The corners are not only less sharp in this way, but the look of the workbench hold down clamps is also much better.

Strong & adjustable workbench hold down clamps

Then, using my vise, I pressed a t-nut into one of the holes in the base of this workbench hold down clamps.

By doing this, the base was ready and the next step could be started.

Strong & adjustable workbench hold down clamps

Step 2 | The bar

OK, then came the part where I was not sure if I would get the desired result, the bending of the metal rod.

Since I don’t have a jig (yet) for folding metal, I had to think of another way.
The easiest way was to clamp the metal in my clamp screw and bend it until I got the angle I wanted.

In the end, this worked out pretty well, and I was able to bend the metal perfectly to an angle of about 80 degrees.

You will wonder why 80 degrees and not 90 degrees.
Well, I wanted the end of the metal rod to be just a little higher. That way, when I place the clamp on my workbench only the end of the bar becomes a point of contact with the bottom of the worktop. I believe that making the point of contact smaller increases the force on the clamp.

Strong & adjustable workbench hold down clamps

After cutting the metal rod to a length of about 20 cm, I trimmed the edges with a file. This is to make the edges less sharp and thus avoid injuries.

If you want to make the workbench hold down clamps, you can of course adjust the length of the metal rod to your wishes and needs.

Strong & adjustable workbench hold down clamps

Step 3 | Making the handle of the workbench hold down clamps

To make the handle I used a piece of scrap wood again.

For this, I had a square piece of pinewood whose corners I chamfered with my Stanley block plane.

By chamfering the corners, the shape of the wood was already quite close to a cylinder.

Strong & adjustable workbench hold down clamps

To finish the handle I wanted to be able to clamp it in my drill press.

For that, I placed a hexagonal wood bolt in the center of the handle. That way I could use that bolt to connect the handle to my drill press.

Of course, you will need to drill a pilot hole before installing the wood bolt. Otherwise, you will risk that the wood will crack.

Strong & adjustable workbench hold down clamps

By clamping the handle with the hexagon bolt in the drill press and turning it at full speed, the handle could be made perfectly round.
By holding a 120-grit piece of sandpaper against the spinning handle, friction did all the work for me.

Tip:

If you want to know more about how to determine the right sandpaper for your project, be sure to check out my blog: The perfect sandpaper grit guide for woodworking.

Everything you need to know about sandpaper can be found in this article. It will no doubt give you a better understanding of the proper use of sandpaper.

There is also a FREE downloadable guide available to help you determine the right sandpaper grit.

Highly recommended.

Strong & adjustable workbench hold down clamps

Once the handle had the desired shape I could remove the hexagon bolt and widen the hole with a 10 mm drill.
This way the handle could be glued to the bolt during assembly in the last step of making the workbench hold down clamps.

Strong & adjustable workbench hold down clamps

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Step 4 | Making the movable jaw

Ok, this is the last part I had to make for my workbench hold down clamps.
When I tighten the clamps I want the jaws to be movable so that the clamped material would not be damaged by the friction with the clamp.

I’ll show you how I easily made that movable jaw.

To make this part, I also used a piece of scrap plywood of 18 mm.
First, I drilled a hole with a 14 mm Forster drill bit.
I made that hole slightly deeper than the thickness of the head of the bolt I used for this workbench hold down clamps.

Strong & adjustable workbench hold down clamps

After making the hollow in the center of the jaw, the jaw itself could be drilled out.
For this, I used a 32 mm hole saw.
Before drilling the jaw out I have removed the center drill so that there is no hole through this jaw. I don’t have to, but I didn’t want to have a center hole.

I admit it, sometimes my eye for detail and perfection takes over when I work on my projects, LOL.

Strong & adjustable workbench hold down clamps

Step 5 | Assembly of the workbench hold down clamps

Now all parts could be connected to each other.
First I placed the washer over the bolt and then screwed the bolt into the nut.
On the end of that bold, I attached the handle with epoxy glue.
Epoxy glue was added to the jaw and attached to the ring that was already on the bolt.

After allowing the epoxy glue to harden for 24 hours, the bar could also be mounted to the workbench hold down clamps, and they were ready for use.

Strong & adjustable workbench hold down clamps

How does the workbench hold down clamps work?

Working with the workbench hold down clamps is super easy.

Rotate the bar in the clamp until the bent end is on the outside of the clamp.

Strong & adjustable workbench hold down clamps

Hook the bar into one of the dog holes in the workbench and return the clamp to its normal position. Make sure the back of the bar is in contact with the side of the dog hole in which the clamp is located.
Also make sure that the end of the bar, which is now at the bottom of the worktop, is in a straight line under the movable jaw.

Strong & adjustable workbench hold down clamps

All you have to do now is to clamp the workpiece to your workbench by turning the handle.

Strong & adjustable workbench hold down clamps

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6 Comments

  1. You explained this well to a novice woodworker like me!
    Nice example of how to make a handle with a drill press.
    Regards,
    Jos

    1. Thank you, Tj. I’m glad you like this clamp.
      There are no plans for this clamp because it is pretty easy to make.
      All details you need to make this clamp are written down on this blog.
      Enjoy making this hold-down clamp.
      Greetings
      Christophe

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