10-Minute Clamp Hack That Will Save Your Hands

Make clamping much easier on your hands with this quick trick.

Clamp Ratchet Handle 1

Clamp Ratchet Handle 2

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Clamp Ratchet Handle 3

Aging gets absolutely all of us at some point. The only part of aging that has really affected my furniture making is my grip while I’m clamping; particularly when I use clamps with small-diameter, round wooden handles. I make a lot of live-edge tables that need some creative—and fast—clamping so that all my joints are snug before the glue dries. My solution takes a little time but once it’s done, clamping is a breeze.

I modify the ends of my clamp handles by attaching a nut with a washer-head screw. This way I can use a socket wrench to tighten the clamp. Just attaching the nut, however, doesn’t quite do the trick, as the nut will just turn by itself without turning the handle. So I extend the profile of the sides of the nut 1/4-in. onto the handle. This allows the nut to sit deeper in the socket. Also, it gives the socket some purchase on the handle, so the nut doesn’t turn. To cut the profile, first hand saw a shallow kerf all the way around the handle, 1/4-in. from the end and about 1/16-in. deep. Pre-drill for the screw and attach the nut. Using the nut’s sides as a guide, pare down to the kerf using a chisel. Each clamp takes me about 10 minutes. — Kim Boley

Plus: 28 more secret clamping tricks from woodworkers