On clamps

February 10, 2011 § 4 Comments

I mentioned earlier that when building a canoe, you can never have enough clamps. Having said that like a know-it-all, I wish I had more. The following picture shows my two favorite clamping methods:

canoe building: clamps

In the foreground, you see a spring clamp with an “L” bracket made out of plywood. This is my favorite clamping method, as it keeps the strip tight against the form and allows pretty good pressure to keep the strip in the cove of its neighbor. For pesky strips that need a little more force to keep the strips mated, I use bar clamps. These clamps have very good strength, but too much force tends to make the strips bow out from the station form.

I’ve also started to experiment with bungee cords:

Note that I use the bead from a scrap piece of wood when using bar clamps and bungees to protect the cove.

At any rate, here’s a picture of progress thus far:

The dots, by the way, are hot melt glue residue that will be sanded off.

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§ 4 Responses to On clamps

  • RussL says:

    This is a most excellent description of canoe building. I’m about to embark on my own adventure and I have a question about your choice of clamps.

    I notice you use a basic spring clamp to hold the L-bracket onto the forms to hold the strips in place. I’m surprised that this clamp has sufficient force to hold that L bracket into place. All other canoe-building write-ups I’ve seen the builders use C-clamps for this task.

    Did you experiment with C-clamps for this task? Do you find the spring clamps insufficient sometimes?

    Thanks again for the excellent log.

    • rstruck says:

      Good question. You’re right in that spring clamps and L brackets don’t provide a great deal of strength. When I’m starting a build, I normally use bar clamps, being careful not to bow out the strips, which causes them to separate from the forms. When the sides of the canoe are higher and my bar clamps won’t reach either because of the height of the sides or their curvature, I’ve found that using bungee cords works well. I will typically wind them around the sides and either attach the ends to the sides of the canoe, or to screws that I have running along the bottom of the strongback. Again, you have to make sure that you don’t squeeze the sides so much that they bow out. Note that I will use short length of 1/4″ dowel in the cove of the strip to protect it from the hook of the bungee. As for C clamps, I really only use them when I’m bending the stems or attaching gunwales. Hope this helps.

      • RussL says:

        Thanks much. I was wondering if bungee cords would work holding everything together. Sounds like they mostly do.

        Thanks again for responding.

  • rstruck says:

    BTW, the clamps and L brackets do serve a purpose with the bungee cord technique in keeping the strip against the form. Depending on how you’re using the bungees, they will have a tendency of pulling the strip away from the form.

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