simple and effective way to glue a panel using custom shop made clamps

I made these panel clamps to help me glue up large panels with ease. Their working principle is a little bit different than the usual panel clamps, as it does a double-action, it tightens the panel and flattens it at the same time.

You can watch our short video with their first usage, or you can scroll directly to download the instructions pdf directly:

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I’ll try to answer here to the questions I was already asked about them, but this doesn’t mean there are no more aspects I could clear, so ask me if there are any questions.

Download the free plans of these 4-way pressure panel clamps

If you don’t want to read any of the things below, you can just download the pdf with the plans of these 4-way pressure panel clamps:

Custom panel clamps instructions

Panel clamps image

Here you will find a list of all necessary parts for one clamp, along with a couple of sketches of how to assemble everything together.

The screws used to tighten the panel clamps with easy

The tightening screw: I chose to leave it as a standard hex screw, as it was easier than trying to weld a lever to it. I use a wrench that is large enough to let me tighten the clamps with ease. I just have to be careful not to tighten the clamps too much, as other parts of the assembly might break, since the tightening screw is the largest. i previously did another set of clamps (standard bar clamps) using smaller screws and the thread got damaged over time and the clamps became unusable.

The pressing pads used at these custom panel clamps do not damage the edges of the panels

The pressing pads: even though they are made of iron, they do not damage the edges at all. This is because I made them big enough so that the force distributes over a large area of the edge. I also sanded them smooth on the face that contacts the wood.

The finish of these custom panel clamps

Finishing: For the moment, I didn’t finish them at all. I just tested the entire assembly to make sure it works as imagined. I now have to round the corners of the flat pieces (they tend to be very sharp after cutting them with the angle grinder), and smooth all the faces so they slide easily. Right now some of the clamps require some mild tapping from time to time. After everything will be smooth, I’ll clean them thoroughly and paint them to protect from rust. I think I’ll use a blue of some sort, to match the colors of the website 🙂

Additional cauls when the thickness of the pressing pads is very close to the thickness of the panel

Cauls: For the panel shown in the video, I had to use additional cauls, since the thickness of the pressing pads was very close to the thickness of the panel. It meant there was a risk that the struts would press on the pads, rather than the panel. For thicker panels, there is no need for additional cauls. The wooden cauls should have been protected from the glue, but I forgot. I had to knock them pretty hard, but I did that sideways, so there wasn’t any damage to the panel (also because the cauls were made from pine and the panel was oak).

The range of these custom panel clamps

Range: The current setup features a top opening of 65 cm. i chose this size to fit the usual 60 cm or so panels, often used in kitchen furniture. When I’ll have to build wider panels, I’ll change the struts with longer ones. If I have to make smaller glue ups, I’ll just drill another set of holes to move the fixed part of the clamp closer to the tightening screw. That is one of the things that I just love with this design, that it can be extended very easily, by just replacement of the struts. If iron bars are not available, I can just use wooden struts. Although, I try to avoid wood for this, because wood is more prone do damage or bending.

The strength of this clamping system

Strength: The current weak point of the whole clamping system is in the 8 mm screws. But I chose this size since it’s a usual size and the holes are pretty easy to drill using a good drill (with a bad drill it’s quite impossible to drill through the 5 mm thick steel plates). If the 8 mm screws will fail, I will move to the next available size, that is 10 mm.

The price of these custom panel clamps is low, around USD 40 for 6 clamps

Price: The cost for all the project, that included 6 clamps was around USD 40 (estimated, based on the exchange rate). I still have a few parts remaining, except for the nuts and screws. I bought just a few more than needed.

So now, here is a downloadable pdf document with the instructions on how to make them. Please feel free to ask more questions if there are things you don’t understand (it’s my first project of this kind, so I might have forgot to include certain details). Also, feel free to criticize or come up with possible improvements.

Custom panel clamps instructions

Panel clamps image

Here you will find a list of all necessary parts for one clamp, along with a couple of sketches of how to assemble everything together.

Thanks!

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