The Mystery of Clamping Wood

Using a jack post as a veneer press

Using a jack post as a veneer press

As a woodworker you can never have too many clamps. I have bar clamps, right angle clamps, bench dogs, and vices.  Working with large pieces of wood that need even pressure to maintain proper contact and adhesion can be a challenge, and I often have to improvise. I have used plate weights to keep objects in place,experimented with DIY vacuum clamps and  turned a 3′ jack post into a veneer press. A jack post can exert lots of pressure so it isn’t very every job.To use it I screwed a top plate into the ceiling and made a stand  out of scrap wood and a milk crate on the workbench. Then I glue my piece, cover the surface in wax paper and then clamp a piece of wood to the project. The jack post can dent your project so this step is crucial. Without the wax paper the project can adhere to your scrap wood and things get messy. Place the jack post between the project and the ceiling and then tighten the threaded jack screw. Don’t overtighten, but make sure it’s snug.  I have used this several times and I now have a dedicated jack post workstation. I install the post Jack screw end down so I don’t have to stand on a ladder to work on my projects.

taped exterior joining two pieces cut at a  30 Degree angle

taped exterior joining two pieces cut at a 30 Degree angle

Another difficult task is glueing odd angles. I had to join two 30 degree angles the other day and it took me a long time to get it right. I would glue the pieces, attempt to clamp and then end up washing the glue off with denatured alcohol and starting again. I ended up ripping the heads off of several wire nails and pinning the pieces together, securing the angle with tape, blocking interior and exterior angles with wood and applying vertical pressure with plate weights.  I don’t know if that will hold over the long term but the glue will be reinforced with screws so hopefully this will work. If not, I need to make a jig to clamp these angles because I see a lot of trapezoids in my future and I want nice joints.