Cheap Clamps-the Ties that Bind

I’ve turned my attention to turning scraps into pencil boxes while I wait for successive coats of BLO to dry on HB Tansu #2.  The offcuts left over from building the drawers is perfect for these pencil boxes.  I’m working on three this round and decided to try a different clamping system for their assembly.  Currently my smallest bar clamp is two feet long.  These are what I have used in the past and it’s cumbersome at best.  to make matters worse I only have enough of those to clamp two boxes.  After that I have to switch to the four-foot clamps.  Now that is just ludicrous.  I had to find a better solution.

While watching a few You-tube videos of Japanese craftsman, I noted that they were using what appeared to be cloth tape to bind/clamp their drawer assemblies.  I’ve also seen illustrations of rope being employed for this type of clamping.  The rope seemed more work than it was worth, but the cloth tape, now that seemed like a solution worth trying.

After a little bit of searching around on the internet, I came to the conclusion that what I had seen in the videos must be cotton twill tape.  A quick search on Amazon and I found what I was looking for.  Cotton Twill Tape.  Dirt cheap and arrived in two days.

Today I put this method to the test.  It takes about twelve feet of tape to wrap each pencil box.  So for just a little over $6 I now have four clamps.  Of course they can be combined if a longer length is needed.  This method works great!  It’s actually surprising how much pressure you can achieve.  I easily bowed the sides of the box and had to back off a little.  I ordered 1/2″ wide tape and it seems to be wide enough that it doesn’t damage the corners of the wood as the wraps are applied.


I’m not too worried about the tape sticking to the glue squeeze out.  I’m using hide glue and a little water will free up any stuck bits.  I’ll probably rub each of the strips with beeswax before using them again just to ensure no issues with sticking in the future.

What’s not to like?  Cheap and gets the job done.  Kinda like myself.  OK, OK, exactly like myself, at least the cheap part.

Greg Merritt

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6 Responses to Cheap Clamps-the Ties that Bind

  1. Schuyler says:

    Great tip. Think I even have some in my sewing box. Will have to give it a try. Happy thanksgiving.

  2. Bob Easton says:

    Great tip Greg!
    Did I miss finding a knot in there somewhere, or is it just enough wrapping to trap the tension?
    I too probably already have some of that binding and ought to give it a try. … after I puzzle out how to get my measuring sticks (squareness check) through the maze.


    • gman3555 says:

      Thanks Bob. No, no knot required. Simply trap the the ends with the first and last wrap. Each wrap builds tension. It’s actually quite easy and intuitive to direct the tension as need be. Hence the apparent haphazard wrapping in my example. I check for square with my small tape measure, so I just needed to be able to access the interior corners. A gauge rod might be a bit tricky. I “clamped” three pencil boxes with this method. It was quick and easy. All joints were pulled up tight and each assembly came out square. I then glued the bottoms on using this same method. I was able to apply even pressure across there entire bottom panel. I would have needed multiple clamps and/or cauls otherwise.

      One other thing to note. Once the wraps are in place you can slip a strip of wood or wedge under the wraps and increase the tension by quite a bit.

      I’m still exploring the possibilities. Here is a video that shows this method in action:


  3. Pingback: Hillbilly Mini Tansu-Progress 8 | GREG MERRITT – BY MY OWN HANDS

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