Shop Hack – Clamp Organization

clamp racks shop hack

So, there are tons of articles and blog posts on how to organize your clamps in your workshop.  I came up with a slightly different solution than most, and although it is unique to my workshop, I felt there might be others who could benefit seeing what I did.  So, here it is – organizing clamps using scrap wood and hand tools….

Organizing bar clamps

Clamps… they say you can never have TOO many clamps.  Anyone who has had to glue up anything can attest to it, and with my local hardware store having a recent fire sale, well let’s just say I stocked up on my smaller/mid-size clamps.  These really came in handy when making our unique baby monitor shelf, and for keeping the frame for my shelf perfectly square.  They can make your life so simple when glueing up anything.  So, now I have to figure out what to do with them. They are currently taking up valuable shelf real estate, so I figured I should make a better way to organize them. I have to pegboard or large sheets of plywood on my walls.  So I needed a unique solution that would allow easy access, but be out of the way. Basically, the same goal of every organization project right?

Location, location, location

Many people organize their clamps on stationary or mobile racks.  I’ve seen many examples where they dedicate a full a-frame rack to clamp storage.  I’ve also seen people do the same with their pegboards, taking up large amounts of the area with 12-20 bar clamps.  Well, since floor space is always a premium and the fact that I don’t have any pegboard – yet, I thought maybe I could take up some space that is close by, but away from my primary working area.

I had threw up these shelves shortly after we moved in, and although most of them have been dedicated to random stuff I don’t want to throw away, I had the idea that why couldn’t I put all my clamps off the end of them?  Not in the middle of the shelf, but along the wall? When closed, the hole in the clamps is roughly 3/4”x1”, and since I don’t throw away scrap wood very much, I thought that I might have all of my materials on hand.

DON’T FORGET TO PIN IT FOR LATER:

organize shop clamps diy

Design Idea for Clamp Storage

Although it would be relatively simple to try to nail up some boards at an angle, that I could slide the clamps onto.  I was worried that I might just split the boards. So, I figured why not take a piece of scrap that was twice as thick, and make a simple mortise-tenon joint with a bit of glue?  One tip that I that might help you in your initial design is to not design for today, but tomorrow.  What I mean is that I purposely made these clamp racks much longer than needed for the clamps I currently own.  I figure that I will probably pick up more clamps as the years go on, so I am leaving extra space for future clamps.

Getting started

The first step is to cut all boards to length, and rip the clamp rods.  I don’t have a table saw, but doing so by hand only takes a few minutes.  I quickly cut some scrap 2×4 to length as well, at a rough distance without measuring.  This is a scrap project so my risk is low!

Ripping the clamp boards wasn’t too scientific.  I just measured 1” at two distances and scrawled a line.  After you have cut your tenon, you should do a test fit with your clamps.  Make sure they can slide on, or at least fit well so that they will stay in one place once you put them on.  I had to take a couple of my tenonsrip lumber by hand

Cutting the slots for the tenons.

Now you need to remove some rectangular slots for the tenons.  To do this, I just held up my block to the shelf, placed the tenon at an angle I thought was appropriate, and traced it with a pencil.  Then, I marked the other areas to remove with a square.

Next, clamp it in the vice and cut along the lines.  One tip I will give you is to give a light tap with a chisel along the lines.  This will help you get your cut started with the saw, and will kind of serve as a stop line.  Cut down until you think you are at the correct depth.cut slot hand saw

Then, clamp the piece into the vice on its end, and chop out the tenon with a chisel.  Give light taps along the lines at first, as that will help guide you as you chop. Just try to ensure you are keeping the chisel vertical.  Since you have cut the walls, already, and it is going all the way through, it won’t take much to get it almost all the way out.

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After a couple of good chops, flip the piece over and repeat these steps from the other side.  Now you should roughly have the slot cut. Give it a test fit, and clean up the insides with a chisel.

Glue the tenon into place

Now we can fit/glue the tenon into place.  I just used some old Elmer’s wood glue I had lying around.  I didn’t use too much, as the fit was quite tight already. But just smear a bit of glue along the sides of the block where the tenon will fit in.  After getting the tenon mostly in place I covered it with a scrap piece of wood and pounded it in with a rubber mallet. Then, apply some clamps – or just use your vice, and let it sit for at least 30 minutes.glue rod into slot1

Attach it to the shelves

Apply some masking tape to each side of the block where the screws will pass through.  That will help prevent the board from splitting. Then, clamp it to where you want to install it on your shelves, and drill a pilot hole (again, prevent splitting).  Now shoot two screws into it and you are done.

Final results

I built 3 clamp holder assemblies, and staggered them so that my largest clamps were up high, then my 12” clamps, and finally my 6” clamps.  This way everything cleared my lumber cart. It was a simple project that didn’t take up much time, and freed up two of my shelves in the process.  Obviously, these are light duty clamp holders, but will get the job done for my purposes. I do have a few larger pipe clamps that I decided to just slide under my workbench, as those would obviously not work on these lighter clamp holders.clamp racks shop hack

But, I am happy with the results.  I hope this gave you a few ideas as to what you can do to better organize your area!clamps organized on shelf rack

If you want to see a ‘compressed’ video of the build – then check it out below!

Be sure to check out these projects, too!

DIY- Garden Bench With a Dual Purpose

DIY – Storage Shelves

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7 Ways to Update a Kitchen Without Painting Oak Cabinets

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