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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Some Skill Can Be Bought

I have a large number of inexpensive F style bar clamps.  We've been together a long time and have a cordial if not friendly relationship.  A while back Peachtree Woodworking ran a special on Big Foot clamps where I picked up 4 of the 48" models.  They sat wrapped in plastic for three projects; I thought waiting until I had a project that required the 48" capacity of these clamps was a good idea.  For the record, that was a stupid idea.

In the photo above you see a saw bench I'm working on.  There are actually two, but the second one is more involved and not even started yet.  The saw bench is only 12 inches (+/-) wide, but 3 inches thick.  The Big Foot clamp has a broad bearing surface; certainly much more than the button on F style bar clamps.  The  large bearing surface is perfect for a three inch thick glue up.

It turns out that the Big Foot clamp is perfect for any project, at least compared to the no-name F clamps.  I suppose a little explanation is in order.

I use a lot of cauls when gluing things.  Cauls make your clamps go a lot further.  One caul and two clamps can take the place of a whole row of clamps on a panel (though I always use a caul on each side of the panel).  The drawback of using cauls is one more moving part to deal with during glue-up.

The Big Foot clamp actually has feet to keep the clamp upright and your project off the table.  Additionally there is a broad bearing surface front and back (head and foot?  Fore and aft?).  My favorite feature is that the feet give enough clearance to turn the screw without interference.

I guess Big Foot clamps are my taste of the clamp good life.  Maybe I'll make it to the Bessey clamp level some day.

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