I have been doing wood working for some time now and one thing I have learned is that the saying you can never have enough clamps is absolutely true. The issue is that while there are a lot of awesome clamps out there they can also be very expensive. There are also many less expensive options they have a large number of drawbacks.
Many of the lower priced clamps simply do not work a smoothly as the higher end clams as well as less clamping power. I have been using an inferior style clamp for some time now and while they do work they just simply might not work as well.
So after over a year of using the less than superior clamps I reached out to a company that I came in contact with on Instagram. Birchwood Tools is an upstart tool company that offers 40 inch bar clamps. I saw some of the pictures of the clamps and reached out to the company.
After speaking to them they sent me out some of there 40 inch bar clamps. I have to say I was quiet impressed with the clamps. I have looked at some others and these seems to be as nice as almost any other. I do want to say they are not paying me for any of this though they did send me out the clamps. I am just giving an honest overview of my initial impression of the clamps.
One of the first details I noticed about the camps ( though not the largest detail ) was the leveling clip on the end of the bar. I have looked at other clamps and used some with the clip on style clips. The clip on style work just fine but I have also noticed that some in that style have a loose fit witch can cause the clip to move around and not be as steady. The Birchwood Tools clamps have a leveling clip that includes a small cam lock. This is nice as the clip is in place firmly after the lock is engaged. Though this is a small detail I though as well that it speaks volumes to the design and build of the clamps.
One of the most important parts to me was the no mar design of the clamping surfaces. These plastic covers help to ensure that the clamps will not leave marks on the material you are clamping. This makes finish clamping much easier not having to use a cheater block to protect the project.
The movement of the clamp is a smooth action with not a lot of vertical movement on the handle to engaged and disengage the clamp head. I also noted that the teeth on the bar are also pretty deep and the body of the clamp seems to grip the bar tightly with no slipping.
The handle of the clamp has a good grip and is easy to turn and apply plenty of pressure. While the handle does not flip up at a 90 deg angle it still allows for more than enough torque to get a lot of force onto what ever you are clamping.
All and all I am extremely impressed with these clamps. Especially with them being as low as $27 ea when you order 4. That is a lot lower priced of most other high end claps. While I have not had the clamps long and will come back later on to do a review I felt that is was worth going over these clamps in an overview. The are well built and seem to be a great investment especially for the price point. With such nice clamps I did not want to simply lay them on the floor of the shop. I could not use my previous clamp rack system as it would not support the extra weight and also the Birchwood Tools clamps would not fit properly onto the rack. I decided to grab some scrap walnut and make a quick easy to build rack.
I started by planing down the walnut to lighten up the material and reduce the weight of the rack. The Dewalt Planer make quick work of this. I do want to mention that the planer has the Shelix helical head upgrade this an amazing upgrade when making finishing passes with this upgrade the material comes out as if it had been sanded. I will do a review on this upgrade later on.
After the boards had been planed to the final thickness I cut them to length using the Miter Saw. I had previously measured the clamps to ensure I was cutting the board long enough. I then ripped the boards down to around 3 inches wide using the Table Saw.
To cut the slots into the rack I used the I2R-8 uccnc. Using the cnc to make these cuts to me was much simpler and more precise. I wanted the clamps to be evenly spaced so being able to lay out the pattern and spacing in the computer made the planning much easier and less likely for a mistake. These cuts however can be made on either the Miter Saw or the Table Saw. Witch ever is you choice to use the spacing is key. The slots on the upper bar of the rack should be offset to allow the lower set of clamps to hang on the rack between the bars of the upper clamps.
With all of the slots cut into the upper and lower rack I then used a Chisel to round over the vertical corners of the slots. Then used the Router Lift to round over the corners of the rack.
Assembling the rack was straight forward. I used the Kreg Foreman Pocket Hole Machine to cut pocket holes into the tops of the vertical supports. I then held them in place using the pocket hole screws and Starbond Adhesives CA . I then used the Starbond Adhesives CA to hold the slotted boards in place and secured them with wood screws. I then marked and drilled mounting holes into the rack to secure it to the wall.
I finished the rack using some polyurethane clear spray on finish that really brought the grains of the wood out. Then let the finish completely dry.
Mounting the rack to the wall was simple and straight forward with the pre drilled mounting locations. It also ensured that the rack fit perfectly onto the wall. I had to ensure that he rack was secured to the studs of the wall as the clamps do have a good bit of weight. This is also why I did no cut secondary slot for the bar of the upper clamps.
This is a very simple yet very effective storage system for the clamps but it is also good looking and effective in my opinion. What do you think? Would you be interested in a simple set of plans for a clamp rack such as this?
Make sure to check out Birchwood Tools on Facebook and @birchwoodtools Also check out @veteran_furniture .
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