Prototype: the Stretchable Clamp | See Me Build | Free Plans

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Clamps, you can never have enough!
But unfortunately, these cost a lot of money if you want to buy them.
So why not make them yourself?
Besides being cheaper to make them yourself, making your own clamping tools is also a fun project!

That is what I did with this new type of bar clamp for my woodworking workshop.
I made a wooden clamp with a clamping system based on a spring.

Just to be clear, this is not a tool with which you can press materials together under high pressure.
This type of clamp is rather a tool for temporarily securing materials.

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What is a bar clamp?

The principle of a bar clamp is very simple.
As with any other clamp, a bar clamp consists out of two jaws that allow you to clamp things between them.
A long bar, which can vary in length, connects these two jaws.

By turning the screw on the front end, you can clamp stuff between the two jaws.

In some cases, both jaws can move freely over the bar and be locked in place, depending on the size of the material you want to press together.
In other cases, one of the jaws has been mounted permanently at the end of the tool, and the other jaw can slide along the bars.

What is a bar clamp used for?

Bar clamps will often be used for larger tasks.
Due to the length of the rod, which can vary, it is possible to press large parts together with this tool.

Bar clamps can be used for:

  • Gluing wooden boards together into larger wholes
  • Assembling cabinets, to keep all parts in place.
  • Temporarily hold parts together to do other operations, such as trimming edges evenly.
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What bar clamp sizes are available?

There are several brands that produce clamps, and they offer them in different lengths.
The most common lengths can be found in the table below, as well as the clamping force of these clamps.

Clamping capacity Inch Clamping capacity mm Clamping force lbs
Most common bar clamp sizes

What makes this stretchy bar clamp unique?

Between the two bars, there is a spring that connects the two jaws to each other.

Thanks to the spring you can stretch it to the size of the materials you want to press together in a very easy way. 

That’s why I called this bar clamp “the stretchy clamp”.
This is a tool that is very easy to build yourself, even if you do not have much time.

Thanks to the free bar clamp plans in this blog, all you need to do to make this tool yourself, is cut the parts to size and assemble the clamp.
Just follow the step-by-step instructions below.

Clamp, and go!

With the bar clamp, you can make thanks to this blog, it is as simple as that.
Simply stretch the tool open and place it over the material to be clamped, and the spring does the rest.
In this way, you can quickly and temporarily secure material.
For example, if you want to mark or cut different pieces of wood to the same length with a circular saw or with a circular saw guide.

Make this bar clamp as a kind of third hand that will help you in your woodworking workshop.
You will see in the video and the step-by-step explanation below that this bar clamp is easy to make.

All you need to find is a good spring.
Sometimes you can find them in unexpected ways, just like I found my springs in an old fitness device.
The more powerful the spring you use for this, the harder the materials can be held.
Let’s go!

Watch the video here & learn how to make a bar clamp

Here you can watch the video and see how to make the stretchy bar clamp.
After watching the video, you can continue reading the step-by-step guide to making this tool yourself. 

How to make a bar clamp step by step?

Step 1 | Preparation

To make this clamp, I used 18 mm birch plywood.
I started by cutting 3 strips of plywood 4 cm wide.
These strips must be at least 100 cm long.

Since the plywood I use is 244 cm by 122 cm, I cut 3 strips from the width of the plywood sheet.

Bar clamp Prototype_ The Stretchy Clamp _ A stunning new way of clamping

Then I cut these strips to length on the cross-cut sled.
If you want to make the exact same clamp as I did, you will need 2 pieces of 100 cm to form the base of the clamp (the bars).
For the claws, you will need 6 pieces of 16 cm, 4 pieces of 8 cm, and 4 pieces of 4 cm.

Bar clamp Prototype_ The Stretchy Clamp _ A stunning new way of clamping

To make sure the jaws slide smoothly over the 2 base pieces, I rounded the corners of these pieces with a 45-degree chamfer bit on my router.

Bar clamp Prototype_ The Stretchy Clamp _ A stunning new way of clamping


To find the perfect router that fits your needs,  check out my blog  — Compare & find the perfect palm router | top 5 buying guide — This blog will help you for sure!

If you need some inspiration to know what router bits you should have in your workshop, visit my blog — 5 most important must-have router bits for DIYers | Best buy guide

Step 2 | Making the jaws

Once I got all parts cut to size and sanded smooth, I made the claws by joining the parts together with wood glue and brad nails.

Using the brad nails saves me a ton of time by not have to wait until the wood glue is completely dry.

Do you want to know more about wood glue? Check out this blog!

Bar clamp Prototype_ The Stretchy Clamp _ A stunning new way of clamping

The claw that will be in the middle of this tool must be fitted with a screw hook.
Later, the spring can be attached to that screw hook.

Bar clamp Prototype_ The Stretchy Clamp _ A stunning new way of clamping

I provided the claw, which will be at the end of this tool, with a hole that is slightly larger than the diameter of the spring.
In my case, it was 16 mm.
Later, the spring can be inserted through this hole.
That way, it will be possible to adjust the length of this tool.

Bar clamp Prototype_ The Stretchy Clamp _ A stunning new way of clamping

Because on this jaw the spring goes through the hole, I had to find a solution to secure this spring and hold it in place.

I did that with a metal plate that I can push between the rings of the spring.

To attach that metal plate to this tool, I made 2 small blocks with a slot in which the metal plate fit.
This allows me to slide the metal plate up and make the spring longer or shorter.

Bar clamp Prototype_ The Stretchy Clamp _ A stunning new way of clamping

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I made the metal plate from a thin piece of scrap metal.

After cutting the metal to size and bending the top edge of about 1 cm to 45 degrees, I painted the metal white.

The color was of little importance, but I wanted to protect the metal from rusting.

Bar clamp Prototype_ The Stretchy Clamp _ A stunning new way of clamping

I installed the two small blocks for holding the metal plate in place with wood glue and brad nails.

Only the claw, with the large hole in the middle through which the spring goes, needs to be provided with this system.

Bar clamp Prototype_ The Stretchy Clamp _ A stunning new way of clamping


If you’re considering buying a nail gun, be sure to check out my previous article on finding the perfect nail gun.
In that article, I’ll go over all the different types of nail guns available, so you can find the right one for your workshop.

Step 3 | Assembling

To protect the wood, but also to allow the parts to slide smoothly over each other, I treated all parts with bee wax.

Bar clamp Prototype_ The Stretchy Clamp _ A stunning new way of clamping

Now it was time to assemble all parts.
I placed the sliding jaw over the bars first.

After that, I could install the jaw in front of this tool, the one that needs to be fixed in place.

After drilling a pilot hole, I secured the claw, through which the spring goes, to the base with two screws.

I deliberately didn’t use glue here, so I can open the tool at any time if needed.

Bar clamp Prototype_ The Stretchy Clamp _ A stunning new way of clamping

All I had to do now was attaching the spring to the screw hook, and determine the length of the spring with the metal plate.

The clamp was now ready, and if you have followed these steps correctly, you can start using yours too.

I made this tool as a prototype.
If you have shorter or longer springs, you can use this principle as a basis, and make a clamp with the size you need for your workshop.

Bar clamp Prototype_ The Stretchy Clamp _ A stunning new way of clamping
Bar clamp Prototype_ The Stretchy Clamp _ A stunning new way of clamping

A workshop without clamps is unthinkable.
Clamps are required for practically every job I work on, and you will be no exception. Because clamps are expensive, it is best to purchase some of the clamps that you require.
But what exactly are they?
So, to assist you, I created the article – what woodworking clamps do I need?

In this article, I will assist you in your quest for the best clamps for your workshop. You’ll discover the perfect clamps in no time if you follow the guidelines in this post, and you won’t waste money on bad buys.
Don’t miss out on this content!

How to build your workshop on a budget?

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Building a workshop can be daunting, filled with trial and error. Believe me, I’ve been in those shoes.
But it was “The Ultimate Small Workshop” course, a gem I discovered and now endorse on, that provided insights unparalleled to any other. This expertise empowered me to invest wisely and save substantially.

I really suggest it to all of my fellow DIYers and creators!

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I hope this information on how to make a bar clamp was helpful, and that this blog and video inspires you.

Feel free to share this blog on Facebook, Pinterest, or other social media.
You can do this by using the buttons below or at the top of the blog.
It will be much appreciated.

I’m looking forward to seeing you soon in another blog or video.

Christophe, founder of
Woodworking | DIY | Home decoration

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