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Making All Wood Cam Clamps

Some men have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they want to, when all they need is one reason why they can.

Martha Graham

I need some clamps to hold guitar sides against the guitar top while I am assembling the guitar on the work board. I really wanted to make all wooden spool clamps, but I am facing a deadline. To make wooden spools clamps I would have to buy a wood threading tap and die set, then wait 2 weeks for Lee Valley to ship me some nice maple dowels. Then I'd have to turn the spool tops and bottoms on the lathe, not that that would be a bad thing, but as I said, I'm on a deadline.

The plans that I followed to make these clamps can be found here. I thank ShopSmith for posting all those wood working tips!

The plans are quite straight forward and easy to follow, though there is a misprinted dimension, it has to do with where the hole for the pivot is located on the cam lever. Double check all the plan measurements before you begin.

There are also plans for making laminated cam clamps out there on the Internet, you just gotta do some surfing.

I didn't want to spend a lot of money, so that ruled out buying a bar of aluminum to cut into bars. I ripped some 3/8 thick strips from a nice Douglas fir 2x4x10, then ran those strips through the thickness sander so they finished to 5/16 of an inch thick. I cut all the parts, then began laminating every thing. The bars were laminated into the lower jaw so I didn't have to drill a bunch of holes to make the mortise. Then I laminated the upper jaw around the bar making sure that the jaw could slide along the bar.

Why laminate every thing? Why not, I don't have to drill and trim mortises. I spent maybe 6 six hours making these clamps.

Why Douglas fir? I had it on hand, it is one of my favorite woods. Douglas fir is strong and this stud was milled from a third or fourth growth tree, this wood is awfully light which is a plus at this point. Remember, these clamps are going to be used only to hold guitar sides in place during assembly. I don't need clamps that can produce 300+ pounds of pressure to squeeze out a bunch of glue.

Wow, how nice to have a bunch of clamps that didn't cost me $20-$30 a piece.


  1. Can you please advise the correct location for the hole on the cam lever.

    Jim B

  2. Nice job! I've thought about making such clamps for a long time. Do you pad the contact faces?

  3. Thanks, Tico!

    Yes, I will glue some cork to the contact faces to pad them today.

  4. I like these Wilson. I bet they will be a real pleasure to use.

  5. I advise that you get out your ruler and measure the plans that you have down loaded from ShopSmith before you begin making these clamps. If you can do basic addition and subtraction you can figure out the proper location of the hole for the cam lever out on your own.

  6. Wow, how timely for me, that I found your clamp making post. Thank you for taking time to notify everyone!

    O.K, timely for me because I was going to go to a Woodcraft store 20 miles away and purchase two of their cam clamps that are on sale in the next week for $8 each. This in order to copy how they are made.

    I have several steel bar clamps from the Harbor Freight Useless store. It is quite easy to break the plastic clamp as it is ratcheted tight, and I have been saving bar stock for conversion to clams. At about $2 each, new, and with a bunch of D.F. ripping waste, I will try to follow your steps!

    Thanks again, Wilson!

    1. Hey, Bruce! I am glad that I saved you a trip to Woodcraft, these clamps are fun to make. The next set I'm going to make out of walnut, because that is what I have on hand. Walnut, maple, birch, beech, cherry are all great wood to use. Once you make your clamps you may want to put a screw in the clamping arm for added strength. Don't know if I show that in the post pics. Thanks for viewing my blog!


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