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I wood if I could.
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After I finally got all of my Christmas gift projects completed Sunday night I decided to whip up a pair of cam clamps. I bought the steel bar several weeks ago in anticipation of making these. I finally got around to doing so (until 4:30 in the morning).

I wish I'd have gone ahead and cut parts to make a half dozen or more. But I was still testing my method of construction so I acted more conservatively. But now that I see how easily I can build these it's a shame to not have done a bunch. It's always easier and faster to make more when you've already got the fixtures set up for each step along the way. Oh well.

My approach was simply to look up a picture of a wooden cam clamp via Google Images and make what I saw. It worked great! The wood I used was once part of an appliance shipping crate I acquired from a Sears store that discarded them.

Rather than explicitly explain each step, I'll demonstrate this via photographic progression. I'll be happy to elaborate on any steps that one might have question about. Here's goes the construction of two wooden cam clamps:

Wood Hardwood Wood stain Rectangle Wood block


Milling Machine tool Tool Machine Tool accessory


Milling Machine tool Machine Tool Tool accessory


Milling Machine tool Tool Machine Tool accessory


Wood Hardwood
 

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I wood if I could.
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Not shown: using a square to ensure proper alignment of jaw.

Milling Tool accessory Tool Machine tool Wood


Tool


Wood Furniture Plywood Table Hardwood


Spacer to leave about 3/16", which was later peened over to lock in place.

Wood Hardwood Table Plywood Furniture


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I wood if I could.
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Now shown: drilling and bandsawing kerf in lower jaw.


Using stop strip on table saw to limit length of cut.

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Wood Plywood Hardwood Table Furniture


Wood Plywood Hardwood Tool accessory Finger


Wood Plywood Table Tool Furniture


Table Wood Tool Tool accessory Plywood
 

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I wood if I could.
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Tool Wood Plane Hardwood Rebate plane


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French curve was used to create smooth curves. But cams are NOT a direct tracing of the french curve. A proper cam should have a profile that increases distance from the pivot at a steady rate, much like the spiral traced by a pencil tethered to a rod with string.

Font Wood Plywood


Sanded flats (after testing to see where they need to go) to lock clamp cam tightly. Only the "top" flat was needed.

 

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I wood if I could.
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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Tool Wood Table Plywood woodworking


Tool Metalworking hand tool Backsaw Table Japanese saw



Still have to peen nails after cut-off.

Tool


Tool


Not shown: Sanded hard edges of jaws to prevent denting of workpieces.

Hopefully this series of pictures shed enough light on the process for any one wanting to make their own cam clamps. If I can figure out you most likely can as well. But I'd be happy to explain or discuss any part of the build one might have a question about.

The only out-of-pocket expense on these was purchasing the flat steel bar, which was somewhere around $6 (I think). And I can easily get 2-3 more (if I stick with the same length) out of that same piece. The maple was salvaged from a crate. And the pins are just short galvanized nails, thick enough to handle the stresses without bending or denting.

ALSO, I still need to pad the jaws by gluing on a piece of sheet cork. I'll also be drilling and putting a rivet near the bottom end of each bar to prevent the lower laws from being able to come off.

It was a very easy, very useful project. Mind you, cam clamps are medium-duty tools. They aren't intended to be torqued to great pressures like, say, a standard pipe or bar clamp. But these will easily apply more clamping pressure than you might think. And they are extremely easy to use.

Thanks for looking in.
 

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I wood if I could.
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
That's really cool. Id like to see how they tighten up though? Maybe I missed something.
Tighten? They're supposed to tighten? Oh crap, maybe I'm the one who missed something. :laughing:

DaveTTC is correct. The lower jaw moves freely along the bar (unless pressure is applied to the inside face of the jaw). Once you've cinched the jaws you flip the cam lever to tighten. The cam permits for about 3/16 - 1/4" of travel.
 

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I wood if I could.
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I almost forgot to show the finished product. Well, they're done except for the fact that I still need to find some cork to pad the jaws.

I cut and peened all of the nails.

Tool Wood Plywood


I ran rivets through the end of the bars to prevent the lower jaw from ever falling off.

Wood Finger Table Tool Plywood


Tool Door handle


Here's one of a few occasions so far that I've gotten to use my new cam clamps.

Tool Wood Tool accessory Wood shaper Machine


No matter how many tools you own, nothing beats the satisfaction of using tools you built yourself. ;)
 

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I wood if I could.
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·

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Turning Wood Into Art
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You had a chain thread going 4 or 5 months ago, just before you had that teaching session I think. Did you do anymore with it. I have been off here a couple of times since then with all sorts going on.

Dave The Turning Cowboy
 

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I wood if I could.
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
You had a chain thread going 4 or 5 months ago, just before you had that teaching session I think. Did you do anymore with it. I have been off here a couple of times since then with all sorts going on.

Dave The Turning Cowboy
So... you've come to realize how lame I am, huh?! Heh, well, uhm, no. Not yet. But the next woodcarving show is in a few months. So I'll be back on all of my unfinished carving projects "soon". I've got to have them all ready in time for the show.
 

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Turning Wood Into Art
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Chaincarver Steve said:
So... you've come to realize how lame I am, huh?! Heh, well, uhm, no. Not yet. But the next woodcarving show is in a few months. So I'll be back on all of my unfinished carving projects "soon". I've got to have them all ready in time for the show.
Cool. Looking forward to it. I like all your build threads etc.

Dave The Turning Cowboy
 

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(clever wood pun here)
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I almost forgot to show the finished product. Well, they're done except for the fact that I still need to find some cork to pad the jaws.

I cut and peened all of the nails.

View attachment 58336

I ran rivets through the end of the bars to prevent the lower jaw from ever falling off.

View attachment 58337

View attachment 58338

Here's one of a few occasions so far that I've gotten to use my new cam clamps.

View attachment 58339

No matter how many tools you own, nothing beats the satisfaction of using tools you built yourself. ;)
You seem to be a busy guy, yet you still find time to document some of this fun stuff and share. Those are some good looking clamps. Is there any benefit over regular F-clamps? The'd probably grip more squarely, but anything else?
 
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